The Flame of Hope


Advent, faith / Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Today, I invite you to join in the CatholicMom.com’s Advent Wreath Link-Up.

We keep ours pretty fairly simple.

The same ol’ brass (though I prefer calling it “gold”) Advent candle ring
that we’ve used forever, 4 candles, and a little Christmas wreath and (artificial) garland around it all.  

I really almost like the one our 7-year-old son made at school this year better or at least just as much…

As I think about it, the Advent Wreath is probably one of my most favorite liturgical traditions of the year.

Out of all the many great traditions my parents did with us during the Advent and Christmas time, the lighting the Advent Wreath before dinner is the one I can still vividly remember. Of course, I also remember fighting about who got to blow the candle out and why my older brother only got to light it (with matches). Just because he was a “boy scout”. Sheesh. 😉 Funny, how some things never change with kids as we’ve had to set up a rotating schedule with our own based on “birth order”. 

I love the simplicity of the Advent wreath.

Four candles, one new flame per week.

Some years we use a special Advent prayer booklet like Lisa’s O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath. Other years we simply light the candle as we pray in thanksgiving for our dinner. Next year I’d like to try Sarah’s Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families if I can remember in time! 

The accompanying prayers are nice but not necessary. All you really need is a match and the flame of light does the rest.

Advent is a time of new beginnings. It marks the beginning of a new liturgical year. It is a time for us to “start again”; a second chance, a fresh start. In the past, I’ve been lazy overwhelmed with life that I end up reusing the previous years’ candles. This year, I recognized the importance of new ones, much to my family’s glee. 

When we light a new candle for the first time, everyone is quiet, mesmerized as we watch the fire engulf the stiff white wick, consuming it, molding it…refining it. Even the toddler-baby is entranced. As we watch, I take in these rare seconds of silence, a small miracle in itself, and just enjoy the fire dance around the wick, slowly creating a small puddle of melted wax atop the candle. When I let my thoughts wander, I realize this simple tradition is burning with deep symbolism and metaphors.

I am the candle, Christ is my burning flame.
I start out straight, clean, seemingly invincible…”perfect”.
Then He comes and lights my heart on fire.
He Loves me intensely.

My stiffened wick curves, yields to His heat; He refines me.
I melt and slowly shrink; He humbles me.
And then, with the simple puff of air, He leaves me.
The smoke rises, disappears into the air; my soul scatters, looking for Him, grasping.
I am alone in the silence, solitude.

I am no longer the same, my wick is no longer stiff, upright, or clean.
My form starts to droop.

Yet I long for the flame. The unquenchable Flame of Hope.

For because of it, I know my purpose now.
Like a candle, I am not made to remain unused on the shelf or in the box.
My heart was molded for Christ’s burning flame.

Not for my benefit but for others to see and be warmed and guided by His Light.

At the end of my journey, not much will remain of me but maybe a hardened glob of melted purple (or Rose) wax. And if that’s so, then I have served my purpose well.

I carried my candle
So others could see 
the Flame of Hope
and find 

The Way,

The Truth,

The Life.

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”

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