In honor of Candlemas, the girls and I attempted to make candles. I ordered a beeswax candlemaking kit from Amazon. My husband and I discussed whether we should make small kid candles in fun colors or large natural beeswax candles that could be used in our candleholders. While the latter was significantly more expensive, we chose it because the kid candles simply would not have been used. Besides, I had been wanting to try a tip found in Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne. Payne recommends lighting candles at dinner to set an atmosphere of both calm and significance. Lighting taper candles we made ourselves would be quite special at mealtime.
Making candles from sheets of beeswax is quite simple. You cut the wick, press it into the wax on one side and roll the wax from that side to the other side. You must move slowly, letting the heat of your hand warm the wax slightly to prevent the beeswax from breaking. Meg and Clare had problems starting the candles, but once I began to roll the candles they were able to take over and finish. Their playdough skills clearly kicked in.
Candles are such a great start to liturgy. Candles are one of the first things children notice on the altar. Our three-year-old loves to count the candles that she sees at Mass. One of my first exposures to Catholicism came at an explanatory Mass in college. The visiting priest walked the many non-Catholics in the chapel through what each part of the Mass meant. At one point he stopped to discuss the candles. He said, "To produce light, the candle itself must be consumed--it must become less. The light of God's love will burn brighter in us as we are consumed--as we become less." Nearly twenty years later, I still remember that statement when I look at a candle. I am looking forward to Candlemas on Sunday and to watching our candles become less throughout the year.