The Holy Work of Mother Bees

This short extract from my next writing project is appropriate for this evening. It comes in the midst of my discussing the connection within the Catholic tradition between God and nature:

“The Exsultet, sung in many churches at the Easter Vigil, captures something of the sense of creation being mysteriously close to God. The Exsultet is a long chant that rejoices in the victory of Easter and involves the blessing of the Paschal Candle, itself symbolic of the light of Christ. It’s full of majestic language about Christ’s resurrection and the overcoming of darkness by light. In the midst of this high theology, the chanter sings:

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.

The image of mother bees building the precious Paschal Candle with their wax immediately grounds the exalted language about God and redemption in the ordinary activity of insects. That’s what I love about Catholicism—we can’t even celebrate Easter without including the bees.”

So, if you’re attending the Easter Eve service tonight, take a moment to give thanks to Mother Bee.

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