In his column, Kevin M. Clarke explains why he believes wax-and-wick candles matter for worship.
In the ecclesial space, the ersatz glow beneath a sacred image feels more like a nod to sentimentality than a creation of an authentic prayer space. It is a spiritual turn-off. I light a candle because I am also a spiritual beggar for grace; I look at the Sacred Heart and light a candle because I cannot actually light my own heart. Sometimes I will spread the light before Our Lady or St. Thérèse just to say, “I love you.” But flameless candles? Forget it! They do not engage the incarnational in the faith. There indeed is something sacred to the burning candles and something desacralizing about the flameless ones.
He argues that this seemingly insignificant detail has implications for how Christians think about their hope of resurrection in Christ:
If I flick a switch, I hope that someone is not going to flip my two dollar “candle” off later. If I light a candle, I have hope that God will answer my prayer. Even the wax itself calls to mind the other valuable product of the bee: the honey, a symbol of the promised land toward which we are journeying through this present darkness. Lighting a candle inside a church is a remembrance of that night when in her liturgy the whole Church fills with light: the Easter vigil, that great fulfillment of all hopes, for Christ once lay in the tomb, and now he has arisen. In moving the flame from candle to candle, that communion in “Christ our light” is rekindled in steadfast hope that he who overcame the darkness of death can lead me through any dark obstacles in my own life. That is confidence that cannot be inspired by a “click.”
Read the full On the Square here.