This is the night of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day, dazzling is the night for me,
and full of gladness.
The sanctifying power of this night dispels all wickedness,
washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.
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.
Why care about the bees? First, they are a delightful poetic flourish. Restoring them adds another glimmer of beauty to the text of the Mass. Second, their presence reminds us that the gift we offer to God is also the labor of creation. God has blessed mankind with the ability to take and use the work of other animals for the praise of his glory, a gift for which we should be grateful. Third, bees have been a recurring symbol in Christian history, and in recalling them we recall the virtues they signify–diligence, chastity, hard work, among others. On this front, Pius XII explained, speaking to a group of beekeepers:
Unlike the butterfly which flits from flower to flower out of pure caprice; unlike the wasp and the hornet, brutal aggressors, who seem intent on doing only harm with no benefit for anyone, the bee pierces to the very depths of the flower’s calix diligently, adroitly, and so delicately, that once its precious treasure has been gathered, it gently leaves the flowers without having injured in the least the light texture of their garments or caused a single one of their petals the loss of its immaculate freshness.