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Something about Candles

Notes from the Pastor [5]

(Please note this is an archival post that is decades old.  Msgr. Awalt passed away a number of years ago.)

Perhaps the most familiar object in our worship is the candle.  It is a visual illustration of that familiar phrase from the Canon of the Mass, “All creation gives you praise,”  The humble but hardworking bee contributes the wax.  The wax is also the work of human hands as it is given wick and shape.  The candle plays an important part early in our lives with the baptism of children.  Once lit, it is presented to our godparents and through them to us as we are admonished to keep the Faith burning as the flame of the candle.  Thus we become a reflection of the one who is the Light of the World.  At the Eucharist we find candles near or on the altar.   Long ago it was a practical necessity so that we could see.  Now with electricity, it is essentially symbolic.  The candle is consumed while giving off light.  This action is analogous to ourselves being expended in the work of Christ.

The lighted vigil candle marks the real presence in our church where it is positioned near the tabernacle as a silent witness.

The candle dispels the darkness as it is greeted at the Easter Vigil services as the risen Christ, the Light of the World.  All light their individual candles and spread the light, candle to candle, indicating that we are to transmit or share the Word of God.  The Easter (Paschal) Candle is greeted in song as it enters the church.  It symbolizes the risen Christ.  It bears signs of the wounds from the crucified and risen Christ.

William J. Awalt

One Response

  1. The Novus Ordo church I sometimes attend when I cannot make it to the Latin Mass of the Roman Rite because of the distance, has no vigil light that I can detect and the tabernacle is also there but not prominent, once again indicating the inconstancy of this new liturgy since Vatican II.

    FATHER JOE: It sounds to me that the church is in violation of the current (post-Vatican II) guidelines. The problem has always been one of obedience. The Modernist heretics of the 19th century said the Latin Mass daily in properly kept chapels and yet their belief was compromised by error. Of course, a deviation in belief is a substantial rebellion while a matter of architecture is more that of accidentals. Having said this, the placing of tabernacles on the side and the omission of a vigil light could be a substantial act of disobedience if intended as a denial of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. My ecclesiology is one that emphasizes continuity with sacred tradition. I would very much oppose what some define as “a hermeneutic of rupture.” Have you told the pastor of your concerns? Has the diocese been informed that the church has no vigil candle or lamp? God bless!

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