KEEPING THE FLAME ALIVE
"Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission." CCC 1213
During one of our frequent military moves, I remember finding my sons' baptismal candles, warped and misshapen by outdoor storage and cross country moves. I threw them out.
When our oldest son was nine he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I was away from the Church, but I prayed then like never before. Apeace surpassing all understanding enveloped my husband and I.
There are many details I recall from those days, but one stands out. On a plane from Ohio to Texas where we were going to see a pediatric surgeon, I leaned my forehead against the oval window and prayed into the deep blue abyss, begging for the life of my son. The response? A clear voice in my head. "He never was your son. He is mine." I spent the rest of the flight and the following years wrestling with those words. They still haunt me. I began then to pray to the Holy Spirit who came to my sons at their Baptism. I still do.
Later, our two boys and my husband went through RCIA and I longed for those candles I had so casually tossed. I mourned my ignorance.
Ten years later, fully back in the Church with a degree in theology, I remember hearing St. John Paul II comment that we live in a time when there are more baptized non-believers than history has ever witnessed. How sad, but I knew personally that it was true! I had been there, but by God's grace and the work of the Holy Spirit, my family and I are home.
The candle endeavor happened serendipitously. Our pastor asked me to make a Paschal candle with Dominican and Irish themes befitting St. Patrick Church served by Dominican Friars. I had to figure out how to decorate a beautiful and long lasting candle that would be worthy of its holy use.
About the same time our pastor also asked me to be Director of RCIA. The Holy Spirit, who was clearly in charge, led me to see the connection between my work as an artist, the candles, evangelization and the development of a truly Catholic culture.
It was startling to realize how many individuals in RCIA have no idea whether or not they've been baptized and if they did know, they usually didn't know where, when or what denomination. Helping to track down that information, led me to pray that our baptized would never, ever wonder whether they had received this enormous gift of life from God.
I started personalizing their baptismal candles. I encouraged them to light that candle every Easter, to remember the holy night of the Easter Vigil when they became children of God and to keep the holy light alive within their hearts. That led me to the idea of making beautiful candles for other adults and infants. So, here we are!