by Fr. Theodore Ziton
from The Word, April 1968
The candle is one of the oldest and the most widely used sacramentals in the Church. It is one of the richest religious symbols or instruments used to express spiritual ideas. It is seen glowing throughout the entire Church and is used in every Sacrament except that of Confession.
Two things are needed for the illumination of the Church. They are oil and wax. The oil which comes from the fruit of the olive tree is symbolic of the grace of God. It is an indication that the Lord sheds His grace upon men, while men on their sides are ready to offer Him in sacrifice deeds of mercy. Pure wax which is collected by bees from the flowers of the field, is used as a token that the prayers of men offered from a pure heart are acceptable to God. And, too, the pure wax, produced by virgin worker bees, is a beautiful figure of the pure body of Christ, born of the Virgin Mary.
Thus, we see that the Church used and uses visible things of God’s creation to lead man to the invisible majesty of God’s Kingdom.
The candle is lit to illumine God’s home, the Church, but it is also a confession that He is the Light of the World, and that we attest to that light by our belief through prayers to Him. The lighted candle reminds us, too, of Christ’s gospel, the Holy Bible, which dispels the darkness of sin and ignorance; the lighted candle also stands for the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth. For the individual Christian the candle’s flame means the faith that makes us “children of the light.”