Yesterday, I wrote about a not-so-great surprise from the Good Friday service at my parish. After that surprise on Friday, we had a beautiful surprise from the new translation of the Exsultet (the Easter Proclamation). The new translation of the Exsultet translates from the Latin some lines which were omitted in the 2nd edition of the Roman Missal. I read somewhere this morning that the Exsultet is now 23% longer (darn memory, I can’t remember where I read this).
I have always loved the Easter Proclamation, which is chanted at the Easter Vigil Mass before the readings begin. My favorite part was always “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer.” Which in the 3rd edition is translated “O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!” (another example of the heightened language I spoke about yesterday).
The pleasant surprise was in the previously omitted lines of the Exsultet.
On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise, this gift from your most holy Church.
But now we know the praises of this pillar,
which glowing fire ignites for God’s honour,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees to build a torch so precious.
I am delighted by the bee imagery! Bees are symbols of diligence and wisdom. St. John Chrysostom said about bees
“The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others”
The bee is also a symbol of the Virgin Mary, and of virginity itself, since worker bees have no role in reproduction except to care for the young of the hive.
I find myself drawn to bees as a symbol for these reasons, and because I like beeswax candles, with their beautiful natural scent, and because I lovehoney. I use honey more and more these days. It is in the bread I bake, I use it in my hot drinks (teas or coffee), and I wash my face with it (I guess I should write a post about that, to resurrect my Clean Hippie series).
I’d like to be like the bees that St. John Chrysostom praised and labor for others.