Have you ever wondered why we use candles in church when there is usually plenty of light from electric bulbs? In fact, electric lights have only been in use for about a century. Before then, candles, torches, and lanterns were used by everyone to bring light to dark places; the Church for centuries used candles on and around the altar to provide light for the ministers celebrating the liturgy.

In our time, candles are used out of reverence and are mainly symbolic — except when an electrical failure once more makes them useful for the light they provide. Candles give off light and heat, thus symbolizing what our lives as Christians are supposed to be doing. “You are the light of the world,” Jesus told His followers. Light here means being truthful and honest while sharing our faith with others. The heat given off by candles symbolizes the warmth of love. Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples if you love one another.”

Lighting the candles is a sign to the people in the church that something important is about to happen — God is to be worshipped by the celebration of the Eucharist or some other liturgical service.