Candles

Upon entering a church one lights a candle. Although it seems simple it is actually a very deep and meaningful act.

By lighting a candle it is not only for oneself, but for family members and anyone else for God to watch over.

Different meanings
Lighting a candle is making an offering to God. It is offering our prayers and thanks to Him for His blessings.

Lighting a candle is a symbol of prayer. The act of lighting a candle is a prayer without words, although still say a prayer as one lights a candle.

The light represents the people and the Faith. When standing in church one is like the flame, alive and attentive to the Word of God. Therefore, it represents one’s presence in the church. It is also a reminder that Christ is the LIGHT of the world and the FLAME is the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, the candle is like a person – coming into the church from the world with a harden heart. Just as the heat of the flame melts the wax making it soft, hopefully the same will happen for the individual and their heart will soften and accept God.

At most candle stands there will be one main candle in the middle. Light your candle from this one – it is symbolic as this main candle (representing Christ) offers light to all the small ones (the people).

How to light your candle
After making a donation:
  • light the candle(s);
  • quietly say a prayer whilst lighting it;
  • make the sign of Cross; then
  • go venerate the icons.

If you have more than one candle, repeat each stage for each candle before going to venerate the icons.

One custom, if the candle stand contains sand, is to draw a small sign of the Cross in the sand with the candle then place it in the middle.

Buying a candle
Before lighting a candle a donation is made to help cover the church’s expenses.

Although the thicker candles have a set price, the thinner ones do not as the church wants to make them affordable for everyone. Therefore, it is up to the person’s discretion how much to give.

The donation should be based upon one’s circumstances and what they are able to give. Someone who lives a very comfortable life is better able to give more than a person who is impoverished. A person who falls into the latter category is actually allowed to take the candle for free, but only if they are truly struggling to survive.

In short, give to the church according to one’s means.

Lighting tall candles
There is the custom of lighting very tall, thick candles.

As lighting a candle is an offering to God, these larger candles are for people who are praying for a miracle.

The tallness symbolises the person’s prayer being closer to Heaven so God can hear it. These candles range from 1m to 3m. They are then placed in a specially designed candle box to hold them.

They are more expensive but it expresses the person’s faith because it shows how much they want their prayers answered.

Use of candles at home
Church candles can be used at home, such as for house blessings or burning the Holy Light on Pascha.

There are several types, including:
       Paschal lambathes (candles)
       white, 40-day pre-Ascension candles
       plain yellow candles
       natural beewax

By keeping them in the icon corner they are held on reserve. It also helps when transferring the Holy Light on Pascha to the kantilia.

It is a good way of supporting the church and maintaining a very close connection. As the icon corner is the “home church” it should be treated the same as an actual church.

36 comments:

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    George.
    my email. gportel@bigpond.net.au

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