Expert Answer Forum

Where have the candles gone ? QUESTION from RUSSELL December 27, 2000 Ms. Fortin,
Where have the candles gone?
I dont know the technical name for it so I will describe it.
A set of candels with a kneeler and donation box.
I dont see them much anymore. Why ?

ANSWER by Mrs. Suzanne Fortin, B.A. on January 7, 2001 Dear Russell
The candles you are referring to are votive candles. In the churches I have visited, votive candles are the rule, not the exception. I've had that observation confirmed by a couple of other people on the internet. It just depends on where you live.
Some churches do not want votive candles due to the cost of fire insurance. Other churches did away with theirs because of a liturgical trend that began in the late sixties that discouraged traditional forms of piety as distracting from the main purpose of Christian worship, which was the Eucharist. So they stopped teaching the rosary, they never spoke of traditions like the scapular, First Fridays, etc. Popular piety was left by the wayside during the 60's, 70's and 80's.
With the introduction of the Internet, Catholics who want to learn their faith now have a better chance of being exposed to traditional practices. Whereas previously, it was in many cases next to impossible to learn about them, now they are widely popularized. I see that as a very positive thing. I think the Internet is the 21st century equivalent of the Roman Roads of the apostolic age: it makes international evangelization possible and relatively easy. Now Catholics can learn about the Divine Mercy chaplet, Devotion to the Sacred Heart, consecration to Heart of Mary, etc. Ten years ago, I had barely heard of them and knew almost nothing about them.
Before you assume that a parish is too liberal to have votive candles, remember that there are other considerations such as fire insurance, fire hazard, aesthetics (the smoke can damage works of art) etc. It's best to try to interpret people's actions in the best light possible light until circumstances make a negative judgment necessary.
Here is a short article on the reasoning behind the practice of Votive Candles.
Thank you for your question.
God Bless, Suzanne Fortin
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