As we move back into Ordinary Time…

A Pray Tell reader in Europe sends in this not-anecdote from a not-diocese in Germany. From a parody issue, still in preparation, of a church music journal.

A large church in a certain diocese in Germany – it wishes not to be named – had to be closed after a “smoke and wax battle.” The Tridentine and Vatican II liturgies are celebrated in this church in a proportion of 27:73. As we know, the Easter candle is blown out in the Tridentine liturgy at High Mass on Ascension Day after the Gospel. But in the current rite, the candle is blown out only after Pentecost. A “Tridentiner” accidentally walked into this church on the evening of the Ascension during a Vatican II Mass and saw that the candle they had blown out that morning had been relit. He charged forward and blew out the flame. The altar servers relit it. This back-and-forth continued for several days, and more and more “Tridentiners” and “Pauliners” joined the fight, until it escalated at the vigil Mass of Pentecost. The sanctuary was already covered with a layer of wax nearly a tenth of an inch thick, and the altarpiece had become discolored from the smoke blown onto it. We can only wonder what decision the Holy See will issue in this urgent question.


  1. Sadly but truly, a priest in a real parish (where the Tridentine Mass is not yet celebrated) argued with the rest of the staff that the candle should be extinguished on Ascension Day. When asked why, he said that “it’s in the book.” When asked what book, he showed his copy of the 1962 Missale Romanum.

  2. Strange to say, I had a similar experience yesterday (Pentecost) when I was getting ready to celebrate (or however one describes that) Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

    In the Sanctuary of the Church there stands a large (10 feet at least high) Paschal Candlestick of elaborate gothic revival design, atop which is an equally imposing large and highly decorated candle. You have to climb on a chair to light this and it is always left burning all day on a Sunday.

    A gentleman in the gathering congregation asked me if I thought the Candle should not be put out as, in the EF, it should have been extinguished after the Gospel on Ascension Day.

    I smiled sweetly and said “Just you try putting it out.” He laughed and said “Yes I guess you’ve got a point.” Now why can’t people deal with such situations with a similar good humour?

    I was reminded of the motto of the Society of Saint Gregory: “Non clamor sed amor sonat in aure Dei” – “In God’s ears, it’s not shouting but love that resounds.”

    Eirenically, rather than ironically,

    Alan Griffiths.

    1. This would seem to create lots of possibilities for mutual enrichment. This could give birth to a whole new rite – one observed in both the OF and EF – in which people in elaborate (but wax-proof) vestments blow out and relight candles for a week in preparation of Pentecost. I’m sure in a few hundred years people can figure out what it has to do with Jesus, and it will become a long-cherished tradition uniting those who celebrate the EF with those who celebrate the OF.

      Or maybe it will become a not-rite in some not-future not-church.

      1. That’s an easy one: the multiple lightings of the candle, throughout the Pentecost novena, are an allegory of the many tongues of fire that came upon the disciples.

  3. Insisting that the flame of the Paschal candle be blown off on Ascension isn’t always a result of a desire to insert EF practices into the OF. It could merely be a survival of older practices that persisted through decades of using the OF.

    In my experience here in Metro Manila, many parishes used to put out the Paschal candle on Ascension Sunday. I think some still do.

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