“Moses, command the Israelites to bring you the best oil for the lampstand so that it can be lit every evening. Aaron and his sons will place the lampstand in the Tent of My Presence, outside the curtain that is in front of the Ark of the Covenant. The oil will burn there in my presence from evening until morning. This command must be obeyed forever by the Israelites and their descendants.” (Exodus 27,21-22)
As this biblical passage demonstrates, since the beginning of the history of God’s people, fire has always had a deep meaning. And it’s no wonder, as it has always been a source of heat and light, in addition to being very useful.
Using burning lamps to revere someone you wanted to honor was common. In the case of the worship of God, more than a homage, the lighted lamps became a symbol of a pious soul which praises and adores its Lord. God himself ordered that due care be taken so that the flames did not go out in his presence (cf. Leviticus 24: 1-4).
Even today, the Jews preserve in their cultural heritage the use of the seven-branched candelabrum (Menorah), which was known as the Candelabrum of the Covenant (cf. Exodus 25:31-40). It brings a great wealth of meanings, such as the days of creation, the Tree of Life, the heavenly bodies, etc.
Christians preserved these customs, which gained an even deeper meaning: fire, which was once a sign of God’s presence, is now Jesus himself, the God who is and is truly present among us.
Every year we are reminded of this during the Easter Vigil, which we popularly call the “Hallelujah Saturday Mass.” During this Celebration, the Paschal Candle is lit, which is that large candle that enters in procession while the lights of the Church are lit. In the taper, five carnations are placed, representing the 5 wounds of Jesus, which are no longer wounds that cause death but are wounds of light and life.
The candle will remain lit next to the Ambo of the Word throughout the Easter season until the afternoon of Pentecost Sunday. After that, it is next to the baptismal font and will be lit during the rituals of Baptism, Funerals, Confirmation, and First Communion (or First Eucharist). He is remembered whenever we renew our baptismal promises, for it is Jesus who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit. “I baptize you with water, but he who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3,11)
It is worth remembering that the burning lamps and the light were always present in Jesus’ preaching, as we see in the Parables of the Virgins (cf. Matthew 25: 1,2), in the lost Drachma (cf. of the Body (Luke 11, 33-36) and among other biblical citations. They are in perfect harmony with the entire Christian tradition and with the preaching of the apostles.
Lamps and candlesticks have the same meaning. Over time, it was realized that it was much more practical to use candles than oil lamps, as they caused less mess and did not spill.
What can they mean
Jesus, like a candle, sacrificed himself in the fire of his passion for us. He, par excellence, is the candle consumed in flames of love before God. That’s why a lighted candle means the ardor of a soul that lovingly gives itself to God. The burning candle flame also represents the prayer of a heart that keeps faith alive. But it also represents the faith of the whole Church, of which we are all a part.
When a priest blesses a candle, it becomes sacramental; that is, its use is for sacred things. Preferably, they should be lit in the oratory, on the altar of the house, in a cave, or in any place where reference to God can be made.
Candle for the dead
As said, a candle represents prayer and the prayer of the heart. When we light a candlestick for a faithful deceased, it means that our intercession, our love, and all the requests we make to God for that person’s soul are represented there, especially for them to find the Eternal light, which is God himself. The same meaning holds for a sick person or someone in dire need of God’s grace.
Can I promise to light a candle for God or some saint?
Catholics make vows and promise to God of various kinds. The important thing is not to confuse it with any kind of superstition, sympathy, magic, or the like. When we light a candle before a saint, it represents our prayer for him or her to intercede for us with Jesus.
Of course, the saints of God will intercede regardless of whether or not we make promises, but it is interesting to note that the act of lighting the candle helps our minds and hearts to focus on prayer and is a concrete act of hope that we place in the miracles of God. God.
When can I light a candle?
We light candlesticks at all liturgical moments, as they are the moments of manifestation of the Church’s prayer. They are at moments like the Mass itself, during Eucharistic Adoration, in novenas, at wakes, processions, in our prayer, or in family prayer. At the same time, we recite the rosary when the little chapel arrives at our house, for example. In a unique way, during the season of Advent, we light a candle from the Advent Wreath (or Ladder of Advent) every Sunday, representing our waiting for the manifestation of Christ and his return, which will be at the end of time.
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