Lighting of Candles Prior to Mass

Is there a set sequence or order for lighting candles on and behind the altar prior to either a Vigil or Sunday Mass for a Novus Ordo church?

I’m curious as to whether there are instructions for performing this action or if it is just local custom or if there is any preference given to an order at all.

Please don’t set the church on fire.


Didn’t like Holy Spirit already do that on the day of Pentecost? :wink:


But which order? :wink:

1 Like

If you have not heard of any, then no. The altar server instructions in my diocese list no order. For a while we are doing good to have someone remember to light them. We are now up to using one altar server, so they get done.


yes, but sometimes he doesn’t make it back before the priest so it has to be done again :wink:

I looked through Youtube, the GIRM, Google, I didn’t see anything so this was the place to ask.

pnewton, thanks.

1 Like


There is no such thing as a “novus ordo church”.


OK, then, a NO mass in a building that never has a TLM.

Yes, it is Mass. :rofl:

There is no order. I never do it myself, because I usually have my son with me who knows were the stuff is. That, and I am not allowed to use matches.


Why would whether or not the EF is ever celebrated in a Parish have any impact on the rubrics or procedures for an OF celebrated in the same Parish? Each Form of the Mass has its own procedures to follow.

Thanks, do you have a reference or resource for those procedures? As I said, I have looked and can’t find any so I am interested in performing the task correctly, if there is a method.

1 Like

As far as I know, whatever procedures are required would be in the GIRM.

When my husband was an altar server nearly seventy years ago, he was taught to light the candles nearest the tabernacle first then work out from those, and at the end of Mass, do this in reverse. IOW. the Tabernacle is honoured with lighted candles for as long as possible. This might just have been a quirk of the priest’s though.


Well, since it is outside of Mass, I don’t know if the GIRM would specify. Obviously if it does, then it needs to be followed. If not, there may be a Diocese or Parish instruction or even just tradition that specifies. And if none of those exist, then it actually doesn’t matter. If it did matter, it would have been made clear one way or another, given the amount of time that the Church has been doing this.

no, that sounds very plausible and makes perfect sense, thanks for sharing

Same thing here, and to start first on the right hand side or, as it was called then, the Epistle side

1 Like

There is no candle lighting procedure or rubric.

1 Like

Look at it this way. If there is no rubric, there is nothing stopping you from doing it as described as a private devotion.

1 Like

yes, except those 40 pairs of eyeballs watching you doing it :laughing:

I’ve never done it, there is a need for it occasionally, I want to be confident in doing it right

thanks to everyone for the replies, sometimes a guys just gotta ask

1 Like

No one cares how you like the candles. Really.

There is no right or wrong. You just light them. It sounds like you have an awful lot of anxiety about this, why don’t you talk to your pastor?

1 Like
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit