- Blessed be God.
Hi. I'm back from Florida. For those of you who might be interested
and don't already know, the Orthodox Church in America's Metropolitan
Theodosius has retired and His Beatitude, Herman, formerly Archbishop
of Philadelphia, now wears the white hat.
Anyway, I saw you had a long discussion on candles, paschal and
otherwise. Here are some observations:
Regarding the RC rules, we were always taught that "in maxima parte
cerei apium" meant at least 51%. Dunno how this rule stands now.
It seems to me of course that beeswax is to be preferred, in any
case-- it's real, it's organic (natural), it smells nice (mmmm!), and
if the wick is right, it burns clean even without a wax guard, whereas
Kerosene candles smell like diesel exhaust. If you've ever stood near
one, you know what I mean. If you use them and don't know, the only
reason you haven't observed it has to be that you have air
conditioning, or else they're far away on the altar or something. But
smell is a powerful associator, and what does it do for the
atmosphere of a church if there is a subtle whiff of petroleum product
in the air?
Another alternative is olive oil. It's pretty-- has a nice golden
color, burns quite slowly, and is relatively cheap (and you certainly
don't need extra extra virgin for your lampadki). If you haven't used
it before, you need to know that the wick just needs to be held above
the oil some way, not too high and not too low. For this, you can
either buy a floater that floats on top of the oil, or you can make a
wick holder out of a strip of tin (long enough so the ends fit over
the edges of the glass; just drill a small hole for the wick). You can
buy wicks commercially, but regular string like for wrapping packages
works best. You need to trim the wick before each service; It should
never stick out of the wick holder more than an 8th of an inch or so.
If you use the kind of wick holder that sits across the rim of the
glass, then you need to fill the glass to the level of the wick holder
before each use. As olive oil burns, it gives off a faint but pleasant
smell of-- well, olive oil.
Regarding paschal candles, i can't see why anyone would use last
year's. Isn't the whole point of the service that a new fire is lit?
If there's a problem with having a lot of leftover candle at the end
of the year, why not get a smaller (narrower) candle next time? You
know the volume of wax you tend to actually use; get something of
about that size. If you can't find anything premade, why not consider
making your own, or having some candle-maker make one for you?
As you know, in the Orthodox Church we use a lot of candles--
basically, just as you would use holy water upon entering the church,
we light a candle or two-- or ten. The volume is sufficient that it's
worthwhile for us to make our own. So about every six weeks we have a
day when anyone who wants to can come and spend half a day making some
2000 candles. It's great community, there's always lunch, and the
process is fun and relaxing. Perhaps some of you would enjoy getting
together every so often and doing the same. Since you don't use the
same volume, you could make fewer, and make them for all the churches
in your city or whatnot. Anyway, to do this, we buy the beeswax in
bulk-- it's not very expensive-- and since we sell the candles for a
buck apiece for the little ones, $1.50 for the bigger ones (they last
a couple three hours), we more than make our money back on it. A big
ball of string costs next to nothing. You do need some other
equipment. If you're interested in the details (size of string,
beeswax supplier, etc), I can report them. Or, if you want, a nearby
Orthodox monastery does this for a living, and they have very
Making a paschal candle would be a special case of course. For that,
you'll probably need a form, or a very deep dipping vat. But it can be
done. I imagine with as many people as some of you have in your
churches, there must be someone with that kind of ingenuity, who would
enjoy figuring out how to do it. Or you can come next time and help
out, and learn how!