Something to consider as we light our candles and are illumined by them in our celebration of the feast of the meeting of the Lord and the reception of the “Light to enlighten the Gentiles” (Lk 2:32)
“The candles lit before icons of saints reflect their ardent love for God for Whose sake they gave up everything that man prizes in life, including their very lives, as did the holy apostles, martyrs and others. These candles also mean that these saints are lamps burning for us and providing light for us by their own saintly living, their virtues and their ardent intercession for us before God through their constant prayers by day and night. The burning candles also stand for our ardent zeal and the sincere sacrifice we make out of reverence and gratitude to them for their solicitude on our behalf before God.”
+ St. John of Kronstadt
Blessing of candles.
It is always a joy for me, when I turn around to bless the faithful on a Sunday morning, and see our chandelier, and candle stands glowing with warmth and beauty of lit candles . Truly having lit candles in an Orthodox Chruch, is pretty much the expectation for the faithful attending services, and even those who are distantly engaged in the life of the Church, as candles manifest our prayers for family and friends, and our hope in the promise that “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it “ (Jn. 1:5). It is not as if, without candles our prayers and hope is in vain (obviously they are some Churches that can’t have candles, not to mention situations where open flame is not the smartest thing), but they help us visualize our love for friends and family, and the fact that even the smallest flame can bring clarity and hope in what the Lord does for us in dispelling the darkness of sin and death.
Before we celebrate the Divine Liturgy for the feast of the meeting of the Lord, we will bless candles and pray that by His grace and mercy, the light they share, glows with the same love we have for our neighbour, and a hope that does not disappoint (Heb. 6:18-19), in Christ’s saving victory over the darkness of sin and death.