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Easter Hope: Why Local Churches Are Encouraging Candle Lightings at 7:32pm This Saturday

The Paschal candle. (Photo: jofo2005/ Flickr)

The Paschal candle. (Photo: jofo2005/ Flickr)

Easter celebrates Jesus Christ’s rising from the dead, and with that in mind, local Roman Catholic churches are encouraging parishioners to light electric candles in their windows this Saturday.

The candle lighting is meant to represent unity and the celebration of the holiest day of the year for Christians. It is planned for 7:32 p.m. Saturday to correspond with the Catholic tradition of lighting of the Paschal Candle – displayed in every Roman Catholic church in the world – on the vigil of Easter at sunset. The Diocese of Trenton, which oversees all Catholic churches in Ocean County, is hoping the tradition can expand to parishioners’ homes this year as the spread of the coronavirus has closed churches.

The candle is lit as part of the official celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. The Easter Vigil is held in the hours of darkness between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Day – most commonly in the evening of Holy Saturday or midnight – and is the first celebration of Easter, days traditionally being considered to begin at sunset.

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Traditionally, the Paschal candle is lit outside the church at sunset the night before Easter Sunday and is used throughout the season of Easter, remaining in the sanctuary of the church. It is also used at baptism celebrations to remind all that “Christ is light and life,” according to church doctrine.

“This symbol will be for us in the Diocese of Trenton ‘A Light in the Darkness,’ the darkness that has been the COVID -19 Pandemic,” the diocese announced Tuesday.

Along with the lighting of the candle in one’s home, the diocese has suggested a simple prayer: “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.”

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