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Author Topic: a friend asks a question about candles  (Read 883 times) Average Rating: 0
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Mister Jim Dude
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« on: July 26, 2012, 02:45:10 AM »

A friend of mine just started attending the parish I am attending. She started a blog to "ask questions" about Orthodoxy. In her first post, she asks about candles and their significance. More specifically, is it permissible to light a candle for yourself. Everyone she talked to was lighting candles for family or friends who needed prayer.

Here is the post:  http://1000questionstoorthodoxy.blogspot.com/2012/07/candles-yourself-and-custom.html#comment-form

If you could answer the question on her blog as well as her, I think she would find that helpful. She doesn't go to this forum.
thanks Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2012, 04:33:42 AM »

"The burning candle represents the entire life of the faithful, from birth to death. It stands for the inner flame of love for and devotion to God. A Christian should burn like a candle before God, and his whole being should gradually be consumed by this divine flame thus marking the end of his earthly life.

Blessed Simeon of Thessalonica (15th century), commentator on the Liturgy, states that pure wax symbolizes the purity and chastity of those who offer it. It is offered as a sign of our having repented of stubbornness and self-will. The softness and pliability of wax speaks of our readiness to obey God. The burning of the candle represents man's deification, his becoming a new creature through the fire of God's love.

Moreover, the candle is a witness to faith, of man's belonging to the Divine light. It expresses the flame of our love for the Lord, for the Mother of God, for the angels, or for the saints. One must not light a candle with a cold heart, merely as a formality. The external action must be supplemented by prayer, if only the simplest one, using one's own words."


From the following link where more can be found:
http://www.stjohnaz.org/index.cfm/resources/attending-divine-services/the-candle
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 04:34:09 AM by IoanC » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2012, 08:27:10 AM »

Yes, we carry the "Light of Christ" as we are commanded to do,"Let your light so shine before men, so that he can see your good works, and glorify your Father, who is in Heaven." 

Also, the smoke from the candle, like the smoke of the incense, takes our silent prayers to Heaven.
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2012, 08:31:37 AM »

Dear Mister Jim,

I'm glad you came for a visit.

Of course we can light a candle for ourselves!  I think we're supposed to bring all of our cares and concerns to the Lord.  If I pretended to be perfectly and unselfishly unconcerned about myself, I'd be lying and not drawing closer to God.  

I read a book "Elder Sebastian of Optina" published by the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood.  In it the Elder (Saint Sebastian) says "Do not light a candle; be a candle yourself."  I doubt he's against lighting candles -  I think he's encouraging a prayerful attitude.   I also think this is a way of overcoming the temptation of "magical thinking".   For instance, I don't think it matters if you light one candle or twenty, what matters is your prayer and how your thoughts and actions turn towards God.

love, elephant
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2012, 09:17:30 AM »

I broke my arm recently, and as I was lighting candles one-handed and remembering friends and relatives who are sick, I suddenly realized, "hey, I need prayer too!" So I have been praying for myself and my injury. Duh! Embarrassed
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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2012, 10:50:00 AM »

As elephant said, we can't treat lighting candles as something magical; that if I light a candle in church, my supplication comes true. That's nonsense, but unfortunately this way of thinking for some people outside the Orthodox Church (maybe also for some Orthodox) seems to be proper. For me the candle is the symbol of Christians that we are the light of the world. Furthermore, it's also a call to prayer and a sign of our sacrifice (I mean money that we spend for the candles).
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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2012, 03:40:47 AM »

thank you everybody; I am so glad people on this forum are so willing to answer questions we newbies have! Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2012, 11:50:09 AM »

Candles are a great metaphor for the human soul.

Consider until very recently historically speaking candles really were an offering of light…especially for those services which were observed at night or in the wee hours of the morning. Each candle was not some symbolic token, but an actual offering of light. The more gathered to worship, the greater the light. So it is with us.

As noted above the body of the candle is transformed into light just as the human soul is transformed and transfigured in Christ our God, the Light of the world.

As it burns, the candle warmed by the heat becomes softer and more pliable as do we in earnest prayer.

When undisturbed in it's "prayer" the flame is simple, calm, steady, and fragrant…as we should be.

When disturbed, the flame flickers, burns unevenly, smokes, and weeps…as do we.

And when it's course is done the fire completely consumes the candle. Every speck of it has been transformed into light…as should our lives at the end of our days.
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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2012, 11:57:32 AM »

Candles are a great metaphor for the human soul.

Consider until very recently historically speaking candles really were an offering of light…especially for those services which were observed at night or in the wee hours of the morning. Each candle was not some symbolic token, but an actual offering of light. The more gathered to worship, the greater the light. So it is with us.

As noted above the body of the candle is transformed into light just as the human soul is transformed and transfigured in Christ our God, the Light of the world.

As it burns, the candle warmed by the heat becomes softer and more pliable as do we in earnest prayer.

When undisturbed in it's "prayer" the flame is simple, calm, steady, and fragrant…as we should be.

When disturbed, the flame flickers, burns unevenly, smokes, and weeps…as do we.

And when it's course is done the fire completely consumes the candle. Every speck of it has been transformed into light…as should our lives at the end of our days.

This is beautiful.  thank you for posting this.
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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2013, 12:30:11 AM »

She started a blog to "ask questions" about Orthodoxy.

1000questionstoorthodoxy.blogspot.com

But she only asked one question!  angel
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« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2013, 09:11:39 PM »

I broke my arm recently, and as I was lighting candles one-handed and remembering friends and relatives who are sick, I suddenly realized, "hey, I need prayer too!" So I have been praying for myself and my injury. Duh! Embarrassed

And I will light a candle for you at church on all-night vigil this coming saturday. Praying for a speedy and fine recovery.
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