Fr Wilfred Sumani, SJ, Hekima’s resident liturgist, made an ecological pure-bees-wax Easter egg candles. This is an initiative inspired by Pope Francis’ call to care for the earth, our Common House. In Laudato Si, the Pope said “Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption” (n.23)
This call of Pope Francis is seriously taken by the Jesuits at Hekima University College (Kenya). Honore Onana Olah spoke to Fr Wilfred Sumani, SJ, Hekima’s resident liturgist, who created the ecological pure-bees-wax Easter egg candles:
“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” (from the Exsultet). Traditionally, the Easter Candle was made out of beeswax, a true sign of the important role of creation in worship. An ancient version of the Exsultet, in fact, went to great lengths heaping praises on mother bee who, though chaste, generated numerous bees that worked together to produce honey from which beeswax was made. The Easter candle, just as bread and wine, was a fruit of the collaboration between nature and human labour.
This year, Hekima College produced about 200 pure-bees-wax Easter egg candles to be used by the faithful during the ceremony of light that culminates in the proclamation of the Exsultet. Experts in the properties of beeswax candles underline the eco-friendliness of such candles suggesting, among other things, that, as they burn, the candles release negative ions which purify the air.
But what motivated Hekima to make these candles at home was the desire to recover the ancient liturgical practice whereby items used in the liturgy were normally produced by the local community. Bread and wine used for confecting the Eucharist, for instance, used to come from people’s homes. Thus, the words “Fruit of the earth and work of human hands” would ring true. Hekima’s was a prophetic gesture, inviting Christian communities in Africa and beyond to rediscover their agency so as to cut back on excessive dependence on commercial enterprises.