Why do we light the Candle and what does it symbolize?


The word candela comes from the Latin candela = candle.

In the Orthodox Church the Candle is placed in front of the holy icons. What is placed in front of the Crucified One, inside the Holy Altar, is always kept lit and that is why it is called the “sleepless” Candle. A Candle is also placed in the iconostasis of the house and is lit every day, according to Orthodox tradition. A habit that maintains its deep Christian symbolism with the Light of Christ that illuminates every human being, that warms hope and that comforts and accompanies in the endless hours of loneliness.

The lighting of the candle symbolizes that it is offered as a sacrifice of respect and honor to God and his Saints. It also symbolizes the light of Christ that illuminates every human being, as well as the well-known command of our Lord that we Christians should be the lights of the world.

The oil, ie the oil. that burns in our candles, “the oil of God appears” writes St. Symeon of Thessaloniki, the mercy of God that was manifested when Noah’s dove returned to the Ark to signify the cessation of the flood, having in its beak an olive branch, or when Jesus, as he prayed extensively, watered with the clots of his sweat the , under the branches of which he knelt that martyrdom that night, in the Mount of Olives. Of course, we all know that infinitely superior to the lighting material is the inner, spiritual lighting. So the Theophoros Father Gregory the Nazianzen wrote: “Let us enlighten the language” and his commentator adds: Was this achieved? The oil symbolizes the infinite mercy of God, but also the candles symbolize the Church which is contagious Divine mercy and enlightenment. They symbolize, of course, the very saints whose Light shone, according to the word of the Lord, “before men, so that they might see the good works and glorify the Father in heaven.”

There are many reasons why the Orthodox should light the candle such as:

  • to remind us of the need for prayer,
  • to illuminate the space and chase away the darkness where the forces of evil prevail,
  • to remind us that Christ is the only true Light and faith in Him is Light,
  • to remind us that our lives need to be bright,
  • to remind us that just as the candle requires our own hand to light, so the soul requires the hand of God, that is, His Grace,
  • to remind us that our will must be burned and sacrificed,
  • for the love of God etc.

According to Agios Nikolaos Velimirovich, we light the candle for the following reasons:

First. Because our faith is light. Christ said, “I am the light of the world.” The light of the candle reminds us of the light with which Christ illuminates our souls.

Secondly. To remind us, that our life must be as bright as the saints, that is, the people, whom the Apostle Paul calls “children of light”.

Thirdly. To be in control of our dark works and our bad memories and desires. And so to bring them all back to the path of the light of the Holy Gospel. To shine “brightly before us men, as we have seen the good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven.”

Fourth. It is a small sacrifice of ours, a sign and sample of gratitude and love, which we owe to God for the great sacrifice he made for us. With this and our prayer, we thank him for life, for salvation and for all that his divine and infinite love gives us.

Fifth. To be afraid of the forces of darkness, who attack us with particular cunning before and during prayer and want to turn our thoughts away from God. The demons love the darkness and tremble at the light: Both of Christ and of those who love Christ.

Sixth. To motivate us to self-sacrifice. That is, just as oil burns the wick in the candle, so too does our will burn with the flame of love for Christ and always submit to the will of God.

Seventh. To learn that: Just as the candle does not light without our hands, so the inner candle of our heart does not light without the hands of God. The efforts of our virtues are the fuel (the wick and the oil}, which in order to light and illuminate need the “fire” of the Holy Spirit.

It goes without saying, of course, that the oil of the candles must be olive oil and of the best possible quality. After all, the Lord prayed in the Garden of Olives and the temple with the candles is transformed into a new garden of mercy (oil) and Divine Mercy. Their oil reminds us of God’s mercy and their light in our lives, which must be bright and holy. .

The shedding of the temple symbolizes the divine light of the presence of God that illuminates the hearts not only of the newly enlightened but also of all Christians. The Lord revealed this great truth about Himself with the following words: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). It is light not only because of His luminous teaching, but above all because of His luminous presence. This is mainly confirmed by His miraculous Transfiguration, where “His face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light” (Matt. 17: 2).

In the Creed the Son of God is presented as “light from light”. In the sequence of the Vespers, the hymn writer also presents the Lord as a “cheerful light”. And Christians with the sacraments of the Church and their spiritual struggle can receive the light of the grace of the Holy Spirit and radiate it with their lives.

In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord, advising His disciples, said: “You are the light of the world…. (Matthew 5: 14-16). (That is: You are the light of the world … so that your light may shine before men to see your good works and to glorify your heavenly Father). Here it is clear that the light of Christ’s disciples is the good works of their holy life. The saints in the next life will be like the Lord, they will become “gods by grace”. The Lord expresses this clearly in His prophetic words: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father” (Matt. 1).

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