Ask Father Figpenny your question.

              Questions will be posted anonymously.


        With Palm Sunday, holy week and Easter Sunday is now behind me, I am able to get some rest, prepare for Pentecost and Trinity Sunday.  This gives me a chance to answer some questions emailed to me.  This next question took some time to research the answer.


Dear Fr. Figpenny, is there a formal name for the "brass candle snuffer on a long stick", or is it just a “snuffer”?


Most “catholic” churches refer to their brass candle lighter/snuffer as a “candle lighter/snuffer”.  You will discover in different acolyte manuals (including “Serving Basics”) and church supply companies that they are called a “candle lighter/snuffer”. I even looked up the term in “online encyclopedias” and came up with the same name.  Most churches will use a “candle lighter/snuffer”, while churches with a small chapel will use just a “candle snuffer” in their chapel. 


I believe the “candle lighter/snuffer” would make an interesting historical research project. 


Thank you for this very good question!


Dear Fr. Figpenny, is the Paschal Candle extinguished after the gospel on the Day of Ascension?


        Thank you for your question asking whether or not the Paschal Candle burns after the gospel on the Day of Ascension.  The Paschal Candle is lighted during the Easter Vigil immediately following the kindling and blessing of the new fire.  In many churches the congregation follows the Paschal Candle into the darkened church.  Some churches present parishioners with small tapers which are lit from the Paschal Candle as it passed by.


       Once in the church the Paschal Candle is placed in front in a place of prominence.  It is customary to burn the Paschal Candle at all services from Easter Day through the Day of Pentecost.  This marks the Great 50 Days of Easter.


       Ascension Day occurs 40 days after Easter and marks the day when Jesus ascended to Heaven to return to his rightful place at the right hand of God.  Thus the Paschal Candle burns on the Day of Ascension and for 10 days afterwards.  


Dear Fr. Figpenny, Is tradition and ritual obsolete in this modern age?


No more than placing your hand on your heart during the National anthem, roasting a turkey on Thanksgivings Day, dressing up for Easter, and blowing out candles on a birthday cake! The church has historically cited tradition as one of the fundamental sources of its truth (along with Scripture and reason). But, for decades, perhaps even centuries, the church has been abandoning tradition in favor of modernism and liturgical revisionism for the purpose of adjusting to the norms, requirements, and whims of the society it has been charged to lead.

The abandonment of liturgical traditions and the tendencies of rectors and wardens to bend to "local custom," personal preference, or simplification of ritual, has resulted in confusion, cacophony, and the disappearance of ceremonial consistency that used to bind the church and its faithful together. Now, it is impossible to travel from one church to another with the expectation of finding uniformity of teaching or practice. What you were taught as correct at St. James’, you may be told is wrong at St. Philip’s. Acolytes and other lay ministers who were carefully trained and have served diligently for years, now risk being admonished for not knowing what they are doing by leaders in other parishes.
The major source of the abandonment of liturgical tradition has been the increasing lack of knowledge and teaching of the sources and history of liturgical detail and symbolism. If we don’t know why we do something, or use something, we will eventually be inclined to discontinue its use. And once tradition is lost, it may never be regained.

Tradition gains its dignity and meaning only through a long period of consistent use. No single individual, whether clergy or lay person, can declare any tradition as either valid or obsolete. Only history can do that. But we can confidently state that tradition connects people to people, generations with generations, and the contemporary world with history.

To turn our backs on tradition is to ignore opportunities of adding enormous depth to our liturgical experience. To embrace tradition is to connect with all of the church that has gone before and will continue long into the future.  Embracing tradition requires understanding, appreciation, education, and practice.

It is the intent of the "Serving Basics" book to provide not only the "what" to do in the best traditional practice, but also the "why" whenever possible. It supports the goals of the OSV "to preserve the knowledge of our liturgical heritage" and "to encourage proper liturgics."



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