From a reader…
I recently purchased some beeswax candles which I want to have blessed in order to use them at home. My question is this: is there a preferable material for devotional candles? Is there a difference between, say, a soya based candle and a beeswax candle? Or a scented candle and an unscented one? Or different colored candles?
Just yesterday I blessed some candles for a family’s home use. The blessing prayer in the traditional Rituale Romanum (the only book I will ever use to bless things) is lovely:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, bless + these candles at our lowly request. Endow them, Lord, by the power of the holy + cross, with a blessing from on high, you who gave them to mankind in order to dispel darkness. Let the blessing that they receive from the sign of the holy + cross be so effectual that, wherever they are lighted or placed, the princes of darkness may depart in trembling from all these places, and flee in fear, along with all their legions, and never more dare to disturb or molest those who serve you, the almighty God, who live and reign forever and ever.
Let’s put those damned devils to trembling, gibbering flight with our mighty sacramentals and sacraments and the blessings of priests!
Candles are beautiful symbols. They are like living things. They eat and drink the wax from the bees, made collectively in association with sweetness. They breath air. They move as they flicker. They communicate to our eyes a beautiful light and give contrast to their surroundings by illumination. They burn out at the end of their span. So do we. They are consumed as sacrifices for the Lord in the liturgy. So should we be too, consumed for the Lord. Using blessed candles during important times is a wholesome and Catholic practice. We should light them when the priest comes to give last rites. We can light them in times of storm or need. Leaving one of these personal, lighted stand-ins in a church is entirely natural.
I recommend that people save baptism candles and label them carefully as to what they are, the time and place, the name of the baptizing priests (so you can pray for him). Then perhaps that same candle can be used when you are ill or about to get married, etc.
To the question…
Q: is there a preferable material for devotional candles? Is there a difference between, say, a soya based candle and a beeswax candle?
For liturgical use, the Church prefers beeswax or a high content of beeswax. The substance is itself symbolic, as we hear in the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil. For devotional use. whatever.
Q: Or a scented candle and an unscented one?
A: Well… beeswax is scented like beeswax. As to artificial scents… just say no. There’s no rule about this, I think. A candle is a candle is a candle. But… just say no.
Q: Or different colored candles?
A: Do you use different colored candles on your Advent wreath? Again, there’s no rule for blessed candles outside of liturgical use.