Run while ye have the light of life, lest the darkness of death overtake you.
Prologue of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict
For Mother Lioba, the Abbey's candle maker, her work in candle making gives her insight into the nature of our enclosed monastic life.
The candle making process, wherein wax is heated to a very high temperature and poured into a container, gives a visual image of enclosure as a place where a contained intensity of life allows for transformation.
Artisanal candle making is a painstaking process. Hand-dipping tapers is a very traditional way of making candles that can include 14 separate dippings to create very thin layers. Whether making a free-standing candle or taper, the candle maker must consider many factors to obtain a candle that has subtance and stability. Artisanal candles are hand-poured or dipped one at a time and are made from beeswax or other natural and organic ingredients, unlike mass-produced candles made of artificially scented paraffin pellets bombarded togther to make a solid mass. The wax and wick have bonded together into one, whereas in commercially-made candles, a hole is drilled and a wick is inserted as a separate entity. With an artisanal candle, you are breathing in that beeswax and the flowers and grasses visited by the bees who made this beeswax. You are breathing in the land and people who tend these gardens, hay the fields, and care for the orchards; rather then breathing in petroleum products and artificial fragrance.
Following the laws of wax and wick, a well-formed and solid candle, able to stand on its own, will be released from the mould. In community life, staying with the process brings strength and release. Likewise, within each layer of a hand-dipped taper, is proof that fidelity to each step of the process will lead in the end to an integral wholeness.
Most candles made at the Abbey are used in our liturgy, using beeswax from our own hives fragrant with pollen from our fields, orchards, and flower gardens. These particular candles are a practical way of bringing our land into our sanctuary. The paschal candle and tapers used during the Easter Vigil are a prime example of our beeswax candles used for our liturgy.
. . . from the work of bees, Holy Church renders this column of light, which though divided into parts, experiences no loss of the light borrowed from it. For it is fed by the liquid wax, which into the substance of this precious candle the mother bee has brought forth.
From the Exultet which is sung at the Easter Vigil after each person's taper has been lit from the Paschal Candle.
Although Abbey candles are handcrafted predominantly for liturgical use in our church Jesu Fili Mariae, between liturgical seasons hand-dipped and poured candles are made available for sale in the Monastic Art Shop.
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