January 28, 2024
Dear Parish Family,
Candles play an important role in the Catholic Church and their origins go back centuries. In Judaism, a perpetual light was kept burning in the Temple and synagogues to show the presence of God. Christians adapted the use of lit candles for Mass, liturgical processions, funeral processions, and to show reverence to the Blessed Sacrament. In the Early Church, candles were burned at the tombs of the Saints, particularly martyrs. Light has a special significance because it represents Christ. We know that Jesus called Himself the Light of the World. Think about all the ways we use candles:
· The Paschal Candle, also known as the Easter candle, is several feet tall and has colorful designs. It is blessed and lit at the Easter vigil as a sign of the risen light of Christ.
· At Baptism, a candle lit from the Paschal candle is presented to the newly baptized with words: “Receive the light of Christ.”
· At Funeral Masses, the casket or urn is placed at the foot of the Paschal Candle as a reminder that the Resurrection scatters the darkness of death.
· Candles are used at the altar for Mass. Candles give of themselves to bear light. They represent Jesus sacrificing Himself for us.
· The sanctuary candle denotes Christ’s presence in the tabernacle.
· Lighting votive candles before images of the Lord or a Saint is an act of prayer. Candles can be lit for a special intention or in thanksgiving for a prayer that has been answered. Lighting a candle for someone is a way to extend our prayers and show solidarity with the person for whom the candle has been lit.
· Advent Candles are used to prepare for the coming of Jesus.
February 2 is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Celebrated 40 days after Christmas, the Presentation of the Lord recalls Mary and Joseph bringing the Baby Jesus to the Temple in fulfillment of the Jewish law. In the temple, Simeon recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. He quotes the scriptures, calling Jesus a light of revelation. That’s why candles are blessed every year on this feast and it is often called Candlemas Day. This Friday we will bless the candles that are used in our church throughout the year. Candles for you to take home for prayer will be available. You may also bring your own candles to be blessed.
Jesus is the light of the world, a light no darkness can extinguish. We are called to be the bearers of that light, that bring that light, carry the light, shine that light … always and everywhere.
Grace and peace,
Father Neil Sullivan