December 22, 2022
Though the use of candles for prayer predates the Catholic Church, there’s no denying that Catholics love their candles, even setting minimum beeswax requirements for those used during liturgies. The abiding presence of Our Lord is represented by the red sanctuary candle, which burns in the sanctuary of a Catholic Church whenever the Eucharist is present in the tabernacle.
Candles are a helpful tool for building your personal prayer life as well. Find out how below, then don’t hesitate to (safely!) light a candle during your next prayer time, allowing its warmth and light to gently burn away the cares of the world and help you concentrate on growing in love for Our Lord.
The act of lighting a candle provides a calming and centering activity to help us to slow down and enter into a more relaxed state, as the soft light provides a gentle visual focal point. The sanctuary lamp is a beautiful example of how this works – focus is easier when your attention is continually drawn to the small, persistent flame burning near the golden tabernacle. In the same way, the lighting of candles in your home provides a reminder of the prayerful aura of a church and the constant presence of Christ.
Though the words “lighting a candle for someone” have fallen out of usage, in the early days of the Church it was quite common to use this turn of phrase to explain that we were praying for that person. Lighting a candle to Our Lady or patron saint, indicating that we were asking for their prayers as well, remains a popular and powerful devotion, and keeping a candle safely burning in your home serves for a reminder of your prayer intentions, both as you’re actively praying and throughout the day as well.
When we light a candle, the flame flickering upwards and the smoke rising toward heaven symbolize our petitions ascending to the throne of God. This visual reminder of our ongoing conversation with Our Lord helps us stay focused on prayer, whether we’re in the adoration chapel or in our prayer corner at home.
Our Lord tells us in the Gospel of Luke that “I have come to set the world on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” Fire is a common symbol of Christ’s love, not only in this passage, but also at Pentecost, when tongues of fire appeared above the Apostles. The Sacred Heart frequently appears with flames around or above it.
In addition, Jesus called Himself “the Light of the world,” and calls us to imitate Him in spreading light to a dark world. Setting a candle alight during your prayer time provides a powerful reminder of Jesus’ all-consuming love for you, and His call for us to follow Him.
They touch our senses, reminding us to focus on prayer
Because we are both body and soul, we have to contend with both spiritual and physical distractions whenever we set aside time to pray. So, the more physical, sense-related reminders that you can set up, the more focused your prayer time will be.
Candles touch our eyesight with their gentle light and involve our touch with their warmth. With the alluring scents of our J. Lily candles, they even provide a reminder through your sense of smell.
Candles have been used for prayer and meditation throughout history. Their light and warmth create a prayerful, peaceful atmosphere that helps us to focus on our prayers, reminding us of our intentions and symbolizing our prayers rising to heaven. And finally, they remind us of Christ’s redeeming love by touching our senses and reminding us to focus on prayer. So, before your next prayer time, light a candle to increase your focus on growing in relationship with Our Lord. May the flame of the candle guide you in your journey toward Christ.