How to use blessed candles
BY DEACON JAY W. VANHOOSIER, OFFICE OF FAITH FORMATION
The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is celebrated on February 2. For centuries, it has been a tradition to distribute blessed candles on this feast day. Maybe you have received a candle from this celebration or even from another source. How should you use it?
First of all, the blessing included in the Roman Missal summarizes the spiritual symbolism of this sacramental:
O God, source and origin of all light, who on this day showed to the just man Simeon the light for revelation to the Gentiles, we humbly ask that, in answer to your people’s prayers, you may be pleased to sanctify with your blessing these candles, which we are eager to carry in praise of your name, so that, treading the path of virtue, we may reach that light which never fails. Through Christ our Lord. – p. 667
It is appropriate to leave the blessed candle in a prominent place in your home or on in a prayer space. This is a reminder that Jesus, who is the light of the world, invites you to spend time with him in prayer. Then when you take the time for personal or communal prayer in your home, you can light the candle to help you stay focused on praying.
Candles provide a powerful spiritual character to an environment, which even the secular world recognizes. They can encourage a calmness of the heart and open us up to experience the light of God.
Another way to use blessed candles is to bring them out during severe weather. Traditionally Catholics would always light the blessed candle during a strong storm, invoking the power of God to protect their home. And as is so often the case, Catholic spiritual traditions have a practical element: the candle will be useful if the power goes out.
Last of all, if you are not able to use the blessed candles because they are no longer usable, it is best to dispose of it properly. Catholics are instructed to dispose of old sacramentals in a way that shows reverence to them. All sacramentals can be either burned or buried in order to properly dispose of them. This type of disposal honors their sacred purpose and returns them to the earth in a dignified way. If a person is unable to do either, the sacramental may be dropped off at the parish office and someone on staff can take care of it.
Although this custom is not practiced everywhere, blessed candles can be saved and in some places where they are gathered together and melted down to create the Easter candle. You will need to contact your local parish or monastery to see if they do it.
If you are looking for something to enhance your spiritual life, you might consider using blessed candles to enlighten your soul, bringing it out of darkness.
Dcn. Jay W. VanHoosier is the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Owensboro. For more information visit owensborodiocese.org/faith-formation, email [email protected] or call (270) 852-8324.
Originally printed in the February 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.