Why do Catholics light candles
It’s obvious that one of the things used to recognize the Catholic Church is the candle especially the Votive or Paschal candles, once it’s seen on TV it’s very apparent that it’s about the Catholic Church.
Getting into a Catholic Church, one of the things you will surely notice are candles which are lit on altars, in front of a statue, image etc.
Seeing the candles has made people wonder why do we use the candles especially while praying and celebrating mass , it’s benefit and what it symbolizes. This article will provide you with all the knowledge you need to know about the Candle and it’s purpose in the Christian religion especially in Catholic Church.
Candle is a usually molded or dipped mass of wax or tallow containing a wick that may be burned (as to give light, heat, or scent or for celebration or votive purposes)
The use of the Candles in Catholic Church always symbolizes the presence of God in our midst. The light always represents Christ just as he said in John 8:12 “I am the Light of the world; the one who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have light and life”. Then John 1:4 says “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”
From the old testament the light and fire have always represented the presence of God, when God appeared to Moses, he appeared in form of flame. In exodus 40:24-25 it says “And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward. And he lighted the lamps before the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses”.
From the above bible references it’s clear that the jews use light and flame as a dwelling place of God and as act of devotion, which is continued till date in the Catholic Church by lighting a candle in the tabernacle.
Why do Catholics use candle
We light the candle especially the Votive candle for our prayer intentions, we light them to offer prayers to God for ourselves and others.
We light candles in front of statues or images to show that God resides fully within the person whom the image refers to, like the Saints, Mary, Angels, etc. In same manner we beg them to intercede to God for us in our prayers.
When we light candles in front of Christ image or statue, it’s to worship, honor and show reverence to him as our redeemer.
We use the candles during baptism to show how a new soul and apostle of Jesus( the light ) joins the family of God.
The Paschal candle which is well recognized because of its length and appearance is used doing easter as sign of risen light of Jesus which shines to the world as symbol of hope and love.
The candles on the altar during mass, reminds us of the persecuted Christians in the first century, who celebrated mass in secret at night using candle light.
Types of candles in Catholic Church
- Votive candles : These are candles found in racks and Catholics light it for prayer intentions. The word Votive comes from the Latin votum, meaning promise, dedication or simply “prayer.”
- Tea candles : This is a very small candle used to light up statues and sacred images.
- Taper candles : These candles are used during mass and other liturgical celebration. There’s a taper candles known as congregation tapers, they are used by people during the easter vigil.
- Candlemas candles : These are tapers candle that people home with on Candlemas day. It represents glorious entry of Jesus into the temple of Jerusalem.
- Glass sanctuary candle : These candles are lit day and night beside the Blessed sacrament and are red in color which signifies Jesus love.
- Paschal candle : These candles are recognized because of their length and size. It’s lit during the easter vigil and is used throughout the Catholic calendar year for other liturgies and sacraments like Baptism, it signifies new resurrected light of Jesus shining upon us. It’s replaced every Easter.