Lighting a Candle

This might sound dumb but I mentioned that I lit a candle for my mom, dad and aunt this past weekend at church and wanted to know why we do this? I used to light candles for people when I was younger, before I left the Church. This weekend was the first time I’ve done it since, but have wanted to do so at my parish.
My mom used to light candles for people and taught me that I should, too, but aside from it being a nice and beautiful ritual, is there some extra spiritual benefit the person we’re praying for receives by doing this?
On Saturday I lit the candle and then said a prayer for the people I lit it for. Was this proper or should I have done more?

Hi Faith,

I love votive candles and I have Blessed candles at home which I light for a particular persons intentions. It’s just so nice. I’ve heard of people doing this for the souls in Purgatory.

In the Catholic Church, I light candles for loved ones and it is a sacramental that puts focus on a prayer. Even when I leave the Church it seems my intention is still alive and visible. I can’t describe it any better but it’s one of my favorite Catholic customs.:slight_smile:

So it’s more of a visible sign of our prayer?

I know it’s considered one of the Catholic Churches sacramentals but the custom has been around for centuries, I believe since the 11th century.

I pray for the intentions of those who lit the candles.
I hope others will do the same for me.

It’s also a sort of offering to God. And it serves as something of a remembrance connecting us in a mystical manner with the intention or those for whom we have lit. I understand that the Jewish people have a similar tradition, actually.

I always get a comforted feeling when I see lots of candles lit or see someone lighting them.

I still don’t really understand, why do we light a candle when we pray? Is it just a symbol? or is there any other meaning to it? A friend just asked me why do I lit a candle when I pray in my room.

Here is what comes to mind for me… in the wilderness, God led His people with a pillar of fire - God spoke to Moses in a burning bush, it seems that burning fire is an important thing to God. When I say a prayer and light a candle, I show that I recognize the power and majesty of God and may my little fire be a pleasing offering to Him.

For those who are interested in learning more about candals and other sacramentals, you might be interested in this book:

Explore Mary Kallsen

I found it on Amazon, and I put it on my “wish list.”

I heard or read somewhere that the light keeps vigil for us. After you have to leave the chapel or wherever, the light continues to burn with the prayer you offered up.

I don’t know if this is official teaching or not. It is somthing that I know I heard at one point. I’ll see if I can remember where and post back.

Also, I have that book posted above. I’ll look through it and see if it says anything on the subject. I won’t be able to get back to you on it until sometime next week though… I’m having a baby tommorrow, so I’ll be pretty tied up. :slight_smile:

Well, can’t you take your book and computer to the hospital and post from there in between labor, delivery, holding the baby, etc???:smiley:

Wow - hope all goes well for you and baby!

Yep, you’ll be busy for a while.

Prayers for your family!:slight_smile:

Like the Virgins with their oil lamps, we want to be ready for the bridegroom to appear in the night (Mt 25:1-13). We want to be clothed with readiness and keep our lamps lit (Lk 12:35). We don’t want to hide our light under a bushel, but let it shine (Mt 5:14-16). We want to walk as children of the light, for God is light and in Him there is no darkness (1 Jn 1:5-7). The Bible is full of hundreds of symbolisms of light as well as directions for how to keep the lamps lit not only in the temples, but in our hearts. It is an offering and a symbolism. An offering of nature (from the beeswax) back to God, an offering of prayer you bring to God, and a testament to your prayer, standing in vigil for you.

People take a candle and light it before an icon or statue of Christ, the Mother of God, or the saints as an expression of their love. The burning candle symbolizes the warmth and sincerity of the prayers offered and also serves as a reminder of the words of Our Savior when He said, “I am the Light of the world. (Jn 8:12)” We who believe in Him are the children of light: “In Thy light shall we see light.” (Psalm 36:9) The burning candle is a symbol that we want our soul to be pure as light and our heart to burn with the flame of love to God, the Blessed Virgin, and the Saints. The vigil lights burning before the statues and icons are to remind us of the light and warmth of love that have been brought to our lives by the lives of the saints.

In the Old Testament, people brought some living thing, like a lamb or a pair of doves, for a sacrifice in the temple. In the New Testament, such sacrifice was abolished because our Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself as a complete and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of all humanity when He died on the cross. In Catholic churches, we see many lights and candles burning. They are lit in the Altar during services, burn before icons or statues, and they are carried in front of the Gospel in the procession and when reading from it, during which time we remember: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Ps 119:105)

Wow, I never thought about that. How selfish of me…

I light candles by a grotto dedicated to Mary. I ask her to pray for my intentions as long as the candle burns. Nothing official, just my internal hope…

I light candles because I’m just a pyromaniac at heart :stuck_out_tongue: … keeps me from getting into real trouble.

catholic.com/thisrock/1991/9111cust.asp

Got this right off this website, from one of the apologetic magazines. There is great message in here…particularly at the end. Consider reading this article.

I think I am going to go light a candle myself.

There’s nothing particularly religious or mystical about it. Lighting candles likely predates Catholicism by centuries. It’s just a nice way to offer a prayer for someone, and it does provide some revenue for the church. It’s more active to the person doing it than praying alone. After all, praying is as much for the prayer as it is for the prayee. Think of it as a little prayer that continues “burning” after you have prayed it.

I feel like I would like to light a candle in my home.I was wondering if there was a special kind of candle I should use and a special holder to put it in? Also,I noticed at the grocery store,there are candles with pictures of certain saints like St. Michael and a prayer on the back in English/Spanish.Would those be okay? Also, do you have to get the candle blessed?Thanks for all of your help.:slight_smile:

Hmm - I’d like to see that link but can’t open it. Got another one?

Try adding in the www as in catholic.com/thisrock/1991/9111cust.asp

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