What is the significance of lighting a candle in church? The meaning can vary from person to person, but in general, candles represent our prayer intentions. A person may light a candle to symbolize a prayer offering for oneself or other people. It is also common for people to light a candle for peace. Sometimes, a board is placed nearby to write the names of people for whom the prayer is requested. There is usually a donation box, which provides funds to churches so they may continue to purchase candles and upkeep the church.
Candles have always been symbolically used in the Church as a meditation on light and the sacrifices of early Christians. They also served a more utilitarian purpose: providing light in a dark space. Even though we don't needs candles to light a room any longer, they still play a symbolic role in many worship services, as well as special occasions in the Church. In the Catholic church, lighting a candle signifies the fulfillment of a vow or promise, or to give honor and devotion to the saint in front of whom the candle is placed. This is not in honor of the statue itself, but rather of what the statue represents. The candles used in churches are typically made of beeswax, keeping with tradition.
The tradition of lighting individual prayer candles is a longstanding one. In the Catholic faith, candles are usually placed in front of a statue or image of a saint. This likely comes from the custom of burning candles in front of the tombs of the martyrs, when the candles burned as a sign of solidarity with Christians still on earth.
Candles can shed light on our desires or wishes, but more importantly candles represent the light of Christ. This light illuminates our hearts when we feel burdened and helps us turn toward God to reflect on whatever is resonating within us in that moment. Some of these may include:
One of the most universal ways to use candles in church is to light a candle for peace. We live in a world where peace is elusive due to war and natural disasters. Lighting a candle allows us to stand in solidarity with the many people around us who are affected by these conflicts. It also reminds us that Isaiah called Jesus the "Prophet of Peace".
When we light a candle with the intention of peace, we recognize it is a light that can shine in dark places. As we look at the candle, we can celebrate the peace we find in Jesus Christ. We know that it is through him alone that true peace is made possible.
When you light a candle for peace in the church, consider also saying a prayer for the following people or situations:
People all over the world need our prayers each day; lighting a candle in church is a physical manifestation and symbol of our solidarity and promise to lift them in prayer.
Lighting a candle in church is a universal gesture of goodwill:
When we light a prayer candle, we serve the good that is in all of us. Lighting a candle in church cauterizes all that is evil in us and acts as a universal gesture of goodwill that is immune to politics, philosophy, or dogma. It is an act that unites, not divides.
The natural beauty of candles can have a profound spiritual impact on our souls. Whether we are lighting a candle in church for prayer, blessings, or peace, the symbolism of the candle's burning flame serves to reignite the spirit and fill it with the fire of God's love.