When to light altar candles?

We have two altar servers in our chuch who are usually serving every Sunday at our 10:30 mass. They’ve been in the habit of lighting the candles as soon as they get there, which is usually around 10 am, sometimes a little earlier. Do you think that is too soon to light them? The only exception would be the paschal candle during Easter which usually will stay lit after the 8:30 mass ends.

I was told it’s okay to do it maybe 10-20 minutes before Mass starts. I don’t think there’s really a rule for it, so whenever the servers get there and get vested is fine, I guess.

However, I was pulled to serve this morning, and thinking someone else got the candles, I didn’t light them. The organist came out and asked: “Is someone going to light the candles?” And it was less than five minutes before Mass was going to start! :o

So, I’m lighting them, and then the bells go off. I was delaying everybody. :eek:

Oh, also, if the candles are lit longer, they will burn faster, so I don’t know if your parish may care about candle life, but that’s something to consider.

We usually light our candles about 10 minutes before mass starts. Since we use wax candles, we are conserving wax as much as possible. The only problem we have is that sometimes the servers forget and I end up lighting them right after we process up. Looks a little awkward, but it gets done.

Not aware of the rules. A server comes out of the sacristy to light the candles, go back, then they come out again with the priest.

During Mass today one of the candles on the altar went out. Deacon gestured for the server to light it with one of those clicker things. This was during the consecration. :eek:

Do you think the server should have (she did). Should the deacon have gestured for her to do so?

The “candle” was one of those wicks with oil that look like a candle.

If a candle goes out during Mass at my parish, we just let it go. It’s really no biggie. I wouldn’t recommend going to light a candle (especially with a clicker) during the congregation because it’s a distraction. The deacon probably shouldn’t have gestured to do that.

When we serve, usual the candles are the last thing to be done. Usually about 10 minutes before the Missa Cantata, and 5 or so before Low Mass.

I once attended Mass at a near-by parish that used processional candles. Instead of putting them on a table in back and extinguished, they were placed on pillars beside the ambo. Then when it was time to set the altar, they were moved to pillars on each side of the altar. I like this idea.

There is no rule as to how early to light the candles. However, those candles are pretty expensive, so our servers are instructed to light them about 10 minutes prior to Mass.

Can candles only be light before the start of mass? The reason i ask is because i seem to recall once a visiting preist talking to me before mass and mentioning that if you forget they can be lit later? Perhaps at start of Eucharistic Prayer? I’m not sure - this was several years ago… Thanks for reading.

I think you can, but it’s probably not recommended, especially during the Eucharistic Prayer, because it’s distracting.

Yes, but an unlit candle can be distracting too. I have occasionally found my attention distracted by a candle that is not burning. And despite my attempts to focus on the Mass I find that I am instead obsessing over whether or not someone is going to do something about it.

The middle of the Eucharistic Prayer may not be the best time to light a candle but it is usually possible for an altar server or other person to quietly light a candle during a momentary “interruption in the flow”, saw, perhaps as the organ is finishing up the last notes of the Memorial Acclamation.

As to when candles should be lit in the first place…

A lot of this is going to be matters of prudence. It doesn’t make much sense to have candles burning without reason. It’s not a good use of parish finances and unattended burning candles with a high center of gravity could constitute a fire hazard. It’s partly going to depend on what else the altar server (or whoever lights the candles) needs to do prior to the start of Mass.

In my parish the candles are carried in as part of the entrance procession on Sundays so it is common to light them while those in the entrance procession are standing in the narthex waiting for Mass to begin. On weekdays we don’t have altar servers so someone (usually a sacristan) lights the candles just prior to the first reading. (We have morning prayer which leads directly into Mass so the opening rites are a bit different from those of Mass alone.)

In my parish, we are transitioning to the norm that the altar candles are to be lit by altar servers - not the sacristan - a few minutes before Mass so that the “lighting of the church” can be witnessed. Our altar has six candles, so two servers should light them simultaneously from outside in. Likewise, they should be extinguished in reverse order as soon as the servers return from the recessional. They are always to use the brass candle lighters, never matches or barbecue lighters, and they must extinguish them with the snuffer bell on the end of the lighter. If they blow them out, wax flies everywhere. Any action which takes place in the sanctuary should always be done with reverence.

A few minutes b4 midnite. . . .

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