The Blessed Blaze
All that We Have: The Burning Bush Sculpture at Saint Andrew’s
Published on April 19-20, 2014 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
A steel sculpture of the Burning Bush is planted on the mound at the center of the circular drive to Saint Andrew’s Church. It was made by Craig Kaviar in 2001 at Kaviar Forge and Gallery in Louisville, Kentucky, and was given to the parish by Tim and Lois (Mateus) Peters of TC Peters Construction Company after the present Church was built.
The sculpture rises 52 inches from the ground and measures 56 inches at its widest. It resembles a modern menorah with its eight branches springing out from a tall central stem. The branches are decorated with metal leaves and all around the lampstand steel vines are woven.
The sculpture’s shape recalls the seven-branched sacred candelabrum of pure hammered gold that once stood in the Temple of Jerusalem. The original design found in the Book of Exodus (25:31-40) has since been modified into the nine-branched candlestick used in the celebration of the Jewish holiday of Hannukah. Eight of the holders rise to the same level; the ninth, called the shamash, is the taller stem at the center. Although it allows for the placement of candles, this piece has not been used as a working candleholder due to the strong winds that constantly buffet this hill and quickly snuff out the lights of any tapers.
The intertwined vines close to the bottom of the sculpture form a base wherein a metal basin can be inserted for the lighting of the new fire at the Easter Vigil. This metal basin was made by William D. Fister (1941-2005) who had lit many a new fire for the Easter Vigils of our parish. After his death, Bill’s son, Joseph W. Fister (born 1977), took over the annual responsibility of igniting the blessed blaze. He was assisted for the first time last year by his own son, W. Gunnar Fister (born 2001), the third generation in their family to have kindled this searing symbol of our Savior’s risen glory.
The sight of the sculpture’s budded branches engulfed by the flames of the Easter fire evokes the burning bush seen by the prophet Moses on Mount Horeb (cf. Ex. 3:2-3). The Paschal candle that is lit from this blaze recalls the pillar of fire that guided the people of Israel in their exodus from Egypt (cf. Ex. 13:21-22). These images from the Passover of the Hebrews reminds us that there is a vital link between the Old Testament and the New, and that our own Catholic Faith is rooted in what the patriarchs had professed and what the prophets had preached. After all, the Lord Jesus Himself had told us that “salvation is from the Jews” (Jn. 4:22), for we owe them not only our history, but also our Savior.
The placement then of this sculpture at the entrance of our Church calls to mind where we had come from; but, it also points us to where we are headed: to the Lamb’s high feast, the saving banquet of Christ that we celebrate at every Holy Mass here at Saint Andrew’s.