WHY DO CATHOLICS MAKE USE OF CANDLES IN LITURGICAL WORSHIP?
“Hi Justin, thanks for the clarification you made the other day concerning the word ‘Lucifer’. However, I watched the video and discovered another issue which is the use of candles in your church; everyone was in the dark with their lighted small candles and the big candle was beside the altar. Now my question: what is the significance of the use of candles in your Church today (I really mean to know), after all we are in the age of electricity, and the power supply is stronger and brighter than candles. Please do not publish my name. Thanks”
Dear sir, light is pure; it penetrates darkness; it moves with incredible velocity; it nourishes life; it illumines all that comes under its influence. Therefore it is a fitting symbol of God, the All Pure, the Omnipresent, the Vivifier of all things, the Source of all grace and enlightenment. It represents also our Blessed Savior and His mission. He was “the Light of the world,” (John 8:12), to enlighten “them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.”(Luke 1:79; see also Matthew 4:16)
Having found ourselves in the age of electrical power supply, the Church cannot jettison the use of candle in liturgical worship. This is so because the wax has its symbolic meaning. The early Fathers of the Church endeavored always to seek out the mystical significance of Christian practices, and one of them thus explains the reason for the Church’s use of candles till date:
“The wax, being spotless, represents Christ’s most spotless Body; the wick enclosed in it is an image of His Soul, while the glowing flame typifies the Divine Nature united with the human in one Divine Person.”
In consonance, the big candle you made reference to is known as the Paschal Candle. It is a special candle used during the Easter Season to represent the resurrected Christ. During the Easter Vigil, this candle is lighted from a new fire and carried into the darkened church by a deacon or priest. The darkness represents the world without God, and the candle is the light of God returning because of Christ’s resurrection. Then people following in procession light their small candles from the Pascal candle, and the light is evenly distributed which illuminates the church. This candle is also used at baptism and at funeral mass. Paschal Candles have special decorations to indicate who is represented, which is a symbol of Christ according to scripture (Jn.8:12).
May the light of God continually illumine our minds and hearts in worship.