What is Light a Prayer Candle about?

Prayer is an experience and the experience itself is what changes the heart, and grows a centred life. Each moment in prayer that brings us into ourselves, into the heart of God, also sends us out in better relationship to the world and others in our lives. Our centre makes our circle whole.

The Light a Prayer Candle site allows us to practice this prayer ritual where we are, at the same time seeing and sensing the ‘cathedral’ of our wide community. It honours the sacred prayers of each of us, even as it reminds us of the power and presence of all of us. It is an invitation to be still in a moment of prayer ... And to know you are cradled in a community of prayer, as in the hand of God, out of which you cannot fall.

Lighting your Prayer Candle

The great mystic Meister Eckhart said if ‘thankyou’ is the only prayer you say in your whole life, it is enough... sometimes there is only time enough for that ... so you may want to begin or end your day with the ritual of lighting a candle on this website. Sometimes, you may have a special reason – a special intention - to pray for, in your school or community or across our archdiocese, or in your own heart ... so you may want to light a prayer candle for that. Or you may simply want to spend some time in silent company with the candlelight ... and this too is prayer. Simply follow the steps...

History surrounding lighting candles

In many different traditions lighting candles is a sacred action. In the Catholic Christian tradition, lighting a candle is an old, old ritual of prayer used individually and together; found in cathedrals and roadside shrines; lit in need or in gratitude. It is a sign of God’s presence and the light of Christ. In this candle prayer site we are gathered in a special way: on our own, yet part of a wide community; lighting our own candles, yet drawing from the light of a great communion. This marvellous reality of presence, seen and unseen is the deep treasure of our tradition.


What has candle flame got to do with God?

Fire is one of the earliest and richest images associated with the heart of God and the human passion for the Divine. It is an image that echoes throughout the Judeo-Christian story and the rich written history of the great spiritual figures of our tradition including Teresa of Avila, Richard Rolle, St Macarius, Julian of Norwich, Meister Eckart, Mechtild of Magdaberg, St Columba and Teilhard de Chardin.

In this tradition, the flame represents the meeting place between us and God in which we are formed and transformed by the love and life of the God of relationships. Among early Christians, the bringing of light was especially symbolic of the presence of Jesus, and this ritual now claims a central significance in the lighting of the ‘great candle’ or paschal candle at Easter eve. This is the Light of Christ among us, into eternity.

How are prayer candles used in Catholic churches?

From early times, candles remained a central symbol for Christian communities as they developed and spread. The best (and most expensive) candles were made of beeswax and were used for the ‘great candle’ and also in other rituals. As devotions to Mary, Jesus’ mother, and to particular saints became widespread, people would kneel in prayer before their statues or icons, light a small candle, and offer their prayer, asking for help, giving thanks, or just kneeling in the presence of a holy place. These prayer candles are also called votive candles and were often made from tallow – cheaper and more easily made.

And so the church became the physical gathering place for Christians, the paschal candle still lit at each community gathering as a reminder of Christ among us; votive candles drawing on the power of the great saints who’ve travelled the journey, and the sanctuary light too, always burning, night and day, to welcome the stranger, to shelter the hurt, to be the constant centre in an inconstant world.