The bees are back.
Not terribly big news, I suppose, especially since I didn’t even realize the bees were missing prior to 2011. Missing, that is, from the Exsultet (the Easter Proclamation) in the previous English translation of the Roman Missal.
As I’ve noted before, I’m not a big fan of the 2011 translation, worked out (I understand) so that it adheres more faithfully to the original Latin. (A curious undertaking, IMHO, one that succeeds mostly in mangling the English language and confounding the faithful. But I digress..)
Still, in this case, the change is an intriguing one—especially at Eastertide.
These days, when we pray the Exsultet, we honor the work of the bees who provided the wax out of which we fashioned the Easter candle. In fact, we note their contributions not once, but twice, in the space of about a dozen lines:
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 honor,
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.
(Hat tip: Pauline Sr. Rose Pacatte, writing in the National Catholic Reporter)
There’s something very incarnation-al about this cameo appearance on the part of the bees in the Exsultet, it seems to me. Something very much this-world-ish.
As if to say, ‘Easter glory touches everything.’ It magnifies even the handiwork of bees. Their wax, too, is God’s gift to us. Nothing is left to chance. Everything is perfect, as the Light of this great feast day begins to penetrate the darkness.
The bees know—and they witness to us—the ultimate truth now coming into view in the light of this candle:
O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human…
…Christ, your Son, who coming back from death’s domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and [He] lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen!
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.