Vigil lights


#1

I am in RCIA currently and loving it.

I noticed something the other day though.

Nearly every Catholic Church I have gone to (maybe 10 at this point) has had some form of vigil lights where you can either light a candle for a prayer intention or have one lit for you.

My parish does not have this.

What gives? My director of faith formation had no idea why we did not have any.


#2

My husband and I are converts, too.

We are members of a parish in a fairly-modern (50 years) parish. Until a few years ago, we didn't have the prayer candles, either.

For a few years, I played piano in an old Catholic parish (100 years) that had them, and they were almost all burning at any given time.

But now that our "modern" parish has the candles, very few people use them. At any given time, only a few candles are lit.

I'm not sure why this is. I suspect that the practice just doesn't mean as much emotionally to most "modern" or "non-traditional" Catholics. But I don't know if that's the reason.


#3

We have had to discontinue them because they are a fire hazard and our insurance company will not allow them.

We are aa rural parish and do not have staff on site. In some parishes, where the Church is open all day, they can have them but they may have restrictions about leaving them burning overnight or unattended.


#4

Insurance companies often try to get parishes to eliminate candles, sometimes even altar candles, for fire safety reasons (even churches built of stone). In many cases, fire codes have forced new church buildings to install smoke detectors in places where incense would be used. These are just some examples of how "separation of church and state" is a one-way street.


#5

My parish was one that was built around 1968, so those types of devotionals were not on the radar. In the past 20 years though, we have added them in our Marian Shrine. At first one, then now we have three with about 100 candles or so on each. They are lit constantly, especially when Mass is being celebrated. In fact, the Parish office had to post a "Vigil Light Etiquette" recently because of their popularity. One factor though that leads me to believe that this devotional is so strong in our parish is that of the ethnic makeup of the parish. We have large populations of Chamorros (from Guam and the CNMI) (I am one :), Filipinos, and Hispanic background (from Mexico, Central, and South America) where this type of devotional is much more commonplace.

I love lighting candles asking the intercession of Our Blessed Mother for my special intentions. I am not fond of the "push button" electric candles, although I understand their need especially when it comes to fire insurance and the like.

Ginen Kristo pot si Santa Maria (In Christ through Mary)


#6

I've been in my parish 16 years and we got our first bank of vigil lights a few months ago. None of the previous pastors saw that as a priority. They were a missionary congregation for whom that type of devotional did not seem very important. Our latest pastor is a diocesan priest and the tone of the parish has greatly changed since he was appointed.


#7

Interesting wide range of responses!

Thank you everyone.

My parish was built in the 60's so maybe the fact that its newer had something to do with it. I don't think it is fire regulations because the Red Lamp by the Tabernacle is a candle in a Red Votive, and I am pretty sure it is supposed to be lit all the time.

Maybe its something that can be added in the future.


#8

[quote="Jon_S, post:7, topic:337328"]
Interesting wide range of responses!

Thank you everyone.

My parish was built in the 60's so maybe the fact that its newer had something to do with it. I don't think it is fire regulations because the Red Lamp by the Tabernacle is a candle in a Red Votive, and I am pretty sure it is supposed to be lit all the time.

Maybe its something that can be added in the future.

[/quote]

We have a sanctuary lamp, that is required and non-negotiable. It is in a metal bracket away from the wall and anything flamable. But our insurance does not allow the small vigil candles.


#9

As other posters said, different dioceses and parishes have different policies (largely relating to local laws, and the policies of their insurance company).

One solution some people use is the "electric votive stand." This looks like a votive stand, and once you slip your money in, you have 10 seconds to push a button underneath one of the "lamps," which causes the light to go on for a set amount of time. Unfortunately, the majority of these electric votive stands look terribly tacky.


#10

These are actually prohibited.


#11

In my limited experience I’ve usually seen these candles in big, historic city churches and not at rural or suburban parishes.


#12

[quote="1ke, post:10, topic:337328"]
These are actually prohibited.

[/quote]

I think you are right in the case of the United States, but I have seen them in Canada where I was under the impression they are allowed.

I agree with the person who said they are tacky though.


#13

[quote="1ke, post:3, topic:337328"]
We have had to discontinue them because they are a fire hazard and our insurance company will not allow them.

We are aa rural parish and do not have staff on site. In some parishes, where the Church is open all day, they can have them but they may have restrictions about leaving them burning overnight or unattended.

[/quote]

Parishes need to fight back against this. It's not like there is a rash of parishes having fires. It is just insurance people being overly ridiculous, trying to remove ALL risk. We need to fight back against this, because they are in the business of accepting risk. Candles and candle stands that are properly built, situated, and structured are not material fire hazards.


#14

[quote="zz912, post:13, topic:337328"]
Parishes need to fight back against this.

[/quote]

It is up to the bishop to do so. We follow diocesan policy.

[quote="zz912, post:13, topic:337328"]
It's not like there is a rash of parishes having fires.

[/quote]

I can name 5 churches in my area that burned down at various times in the past.

[quote="zz912, post:13, topic:337328"]

It is just insurance people being overly ridiculous, trying to remove ALL risk. We need to fight back against this, because they are in the business of accepting risk. Candles and candle stands that are properly built, situated, and structured are not material fire hazards.

[/quote]

Unattended candles are a pretty large risk. We do not have onsite staff to monitor a group of burning candles.


#15

Really? I wasn’t aware of that one. Is that by the USCCB, Ecclesiastical Province, or on a diocesan level?


#16

old.usccb.org/liturgy/q%26a/environment/candles.shtml

In the interests of authenticity and symbolism, it is likewise unfitting that so-called electric vigil lights be used for devotional purposes.


#17

There are many churches in my diocese ( both large and small parishes) that have vigil lights.

Several have the standard open tray of dozens of small votives that parishioners light themselves.

One large cathedral has an interesting policy that I think could be a great option to satisfy the insurance issues.

They have about 2 dozen large votives with metal tops that look a lot like the lantern by the tabernacle, spread around the church. The candles within these are only allowed to be lit by the church staff. They have envelopes where you can request a candle lit and specify a specific prayer intention. They suggest a $2 donation and then will light the vigil light for one week for the intention. They also make it known that the church staff prays for each intention.

Also the stands these large 12 inch tall votives sit on literally looks bomb proof.

I am a professional firefighter and honestly find it pretty ridiculous that this is a fire hazard when done properly. Of course you can't drape linens and things over them or put decorations around them, but there really is no more hazard if done right then having a kitchen or electricity in the church.

I think it's just something my parish chose in my diocese. It was said when the parish was formed in the 60s that it was "the most Protestant Catholic Church in the diocese". I think this was meant to mean they were very anti traditional.

I am happy to say that it is almost the opposite of what the church is like now, like it was maybe just the times, a fleeting fad, so if that was the case it would be nice to get the lights back.

I will keep investigating but all your responses have been quite helpful. Thank you!


#18

[quote="1ke, post:16, topic:337328"]
old.usccb.org/liturgy/q%26a/environment/candles.shtml

In the interests of authenticity and symbolism, it is likewise unfitting that so-called electric vigil lights be used for devotional purposes.

[/quote]

Thank you, sir!


#19

I’m a m’am. :slight_smile:


#20

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!


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