Friday 12 February 2010

Closed for candles.

It was just before 10 o’clock in the morning, early Mass had long been over and everyone had left. The church was empty, or so Father Ignatius thought. He came out of the Sacristy to spend a few minutes with the Virgin Mary, sitting on the front pew reciting his Rosary as usual, when he noticed a young man sitting in his place. He was wearing a very smart dark suit and had a small business case with him lying beside him on the pew.

Father Ignatius nodded a greeting and sat on the other side of the church, by St Joseph’s statue, for a change. He thought it prudent to give the young man some privacy to pray or meditate. He’d never seen him before, “not one of our regulars,” thought the priest as he started his prayers.

A few minutes later the young man got up and made his way towards the priest.

“Do you work here?” he asked hesitantly.

“Yes … I am the priest here, they call me Ignatius. At least to my face, that is …” joked the priest standing up.

“I saw a book at the back about Catholic Saints. May I purchase it please?”

“Oh, you’re welcome to it … it’s free. Please help yourself to any leaflets or pamphlets on the table at the back,” replied Father Ignatius.

“I am not from this side of town …” continued the young man, “I’m here for a job interview at the factory down the road. I was surprised to find the church open at this hour. Where I live they are always closed.”

“It’s the devil’s finest hour when we lock our churches,” replied Father Ignatius, “we try to leave the door open as much as we can around here …”

“It’s a shame that so many churches are closed during the middle of the day … I like to go from time to time and just sit there … it helps me to think … and pray perhaps … you know, before my interview. I really need this job.”

“I wish you well … and I shall pray for you too …”

“All these statues of Jesus and the Saints have candles lit besides them. I’m not Catholic and I never understood the purpose of candles … do you believe they help get your intentions attended to … you know, if I lit a candle for this job I need?” asked the young man hesitantly.

The priest sat down and so did the young man. “Ah … I’ve been asked this so many times … the statues are of course inanimate objects just to help us envisage what Jesus or the Saints looked like. Just like having a photo of a loved one in your wallet. A helpful reminder every time you look at it …

“Some people consider it wrong to pray or light candles to statues. I understand that sentiment. But it’s important to understand also that we’re of course praying to Jesus or a Saint and certainly not to the statue we see there.

“It’s also important to understand that Jesus or the Saints do not require anything material from us … they don’t need candles lit … flowers put in vases or any such things …

“Lighting a candle is for many people a sign of love and respect. Their way of veneration … an expression of their Faith.

“So the answer is no … a candle will not help get you a job at the factory or anything else for that matter.

“I’ve lit many a candle in my time … I don’t see any harm in it, as long as it is understood that it will not buy you any favors in any way.

“God does answer prayers, I’ve seen it often … but He does so according to His will and not based on candles, flowers or such like …”

“Thank you …” said the young man, “I’ll light one all the same … but no promise or guarantee intended …” he smiled.

“Should you get the job around here … I hope to see you visit us from time to time …” said Father Ignatius as he shook the young man’s hand.

It seems that this time God was willing, and the young man did get his job, because Father Ignatius saw him sitting at the back of the church at midday Mass on several occasions since.


  1. My goodness what a wonderful lesson!! I do so enjoy my visits here!!!!! Cathy

  2. Hello Cathy,

    We do very much enjoy your visits here. Please continue to visit and comment often. God bless you.

  3. Oh I'm so glad he came back! We have several churches in Manchester that are open all day. I always like to call in when I am in town.

  4. I love it when the church is open and I can sit, pray and meditate, lighting a candle reinforces my own sense of focus.

    We all should have a Father Ignatius in our parishes........:-) Hugs

  5. What a beautiful post. Thank you for visiting my blog...I look forward to more visits here! We do not always know why things happen, but I do trust that He answers our prayers in his own way. Blessing...

  6. Hello Mother of this lot,

    It's nice to hear that in Manchester churches are still open all day. It's years since I visited Manchester; sadly it's too long a way to call there to visit a church. Around London, not many churches are open as a matter of course.

    Hi Bernie,

    Glad to hear that churches are open where you live. Like you, I love to go and sit for a while and pray.

    Hi Mary,

    Welcome to my Blog. Nice to see you here. Hope you call again and often. Thank you for your kind comments. I really appreciate them.

    God bless you Mother of this lot, Bernie and Mary. Thanx for your comments.

  7. One of my best times of prayer was when I sat with several friends around a big conglomeration of candles that melted together as they burned. Seeing the fire reminded me of purity and of the Holy Spirit's power as we prayed.

    I don't typically light a candle when I pray, but maybe I should. I think I may add that to some of my morning quiet times.

  8. Hello Sarah,

    I like to light a candle every now and then ... or sit in church next to a number of candles and pray or meditate. The dancing flames tend to have a calming effect somehow. Or when a candle dies out sending a plume of smoke heavenwards ... perhaps carrying your prayers with it ...

    Thank you for your comments Sarah.

    God bless you and yours.

  9. I felt real peace reading this article. Where I live, the curches close the door after the service, and many times I felt the need to sit and prey in the House Of God - I feel closer to Him there. But often I had no place to go. Lighting a candle represents more then a sign of love and respect, is the light of your soul, in my belief.
    As Bernie says, we all should have a Father Ignatius in our parishes...
    God Bless him! And God Bless you for this Blog!

  10. I felt real peace reading this article. Where I live, the curches close the door after the service, and many times I felt the need to sit and pray in the House Of God - I feel closer to Him there. But often I had no place to go. Lighting a candle represents more then a sign of love and respect, is the light of your soul, in my belief.
    As Bernie says, we all should have a Father Ignatius in our parishes...
    God Bless him! And God Bless you for this Blog!

  11. Hello Eight O'Clock Coffee,

    It's so nice to see you visiting here and commenting. Welcome. I hope you visit again soon and comment often. Thank you for your kind comments.

    I find sitting in church and praying or meditating so peaceful. Especially watching the votive candles burning by the statues.

    God bless you.

  12. I let Michaela [carefully] light a candle when we visit a nearby shrine :) She thinks this is cool! She likes the Sacred and Immaculate Heart ones the best. I let her start her own blog [carefully monitored and in my name] and one of the first pictures she put up was the two Hearts picture. Her blog is called The Rose and she does it all by herself :)

    Oops! Sorry, I know I have a tendency to ramble on about things!

  13. Hi Mary,

    No ... you don't ramble on. Your Blog is very entertaining and often inspirational. Thank you for that.

    Thank you also for commenting on my post encouraging donations to the Salvation Army. Please ask as many people as you can to do the same so I can send a respectable sum to the SA.

    God bless you Mary.

  14. I love to light candles. I don't consider it asking for anything. I consider it an expression of my love for either Jesus or Mary or some saint.

    Can you explain that red candle in the front of the Church, behind the altar? That has special significance and I either don't remember what or I never learned it.

    1. Manny I agree entirely. Lighting a candle is an expression of love and respect. It's like giving flowers to a loved one. I've done it often.

      Usually there's a red light near the tabernacle at the front/behind of the altar. It is sometimes a candle, more often an oil lamp in a red glass container. It is known as the Sanctuary Lamp. A lit Sanctuary Lamp signifies the presence of God in the tabernacle that contains the Eucharist. Sometimes it is called the Tabernacle Lamp.

      The Law of the Catholic Church indicating the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle is: 'A special lamp must burn night and day before the tabernacle in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, to indicate and honour the presence of Christ'. This explains why it is often an oil lamp in a red container because it lasts longer.

      I hope this helps, Manny. God bless you.

    2. Yes it does help a lot. There is also one at the shrine where I go for Eucharest Adoration. Now it all makes sense, and according to Wikipedia, it's also in Jewish tradition:

      "Hanging or standing in front of the ark in every Jewish synagogue, it is meant to represent the menorah of the Temple in Jerusalem as well as the continuously burning fire on the altar of burnt offerings in front of the Temple.[2] It also symbolizes God's eternal presence and is therefore never extinguished."

      The reason I asked was that I remember a Jewish convert to Catholicism saying something to the effect that Catholics carried forth many of ancient Jewish traditions (more so than other Christian faiths) and she cited that red candle. I didn't know it was called a Sanctuary Lamp. Thanks a bunch!

    3. Thanx Manny for writing in. Yes, Catholics have carried forth many Jewish traditions. God bless you always.

  15. I love this story!
    Just the right answer to questions from non Catholics!

    1. Thanx Ric. I hope you visit here again soon. God bless.



God bless you.