In order to truly worship in Spirit and Truth, Orthodox Christians should know the meaning of whatever they do in Church or in private prayer.
Below are 12 symbolisms of lighting candles in Church. 6 from Saint Symeon of Thessalonica and 6 from Nicodemus the Athonite.
St. Symeon gives these six symbolisms:
- The candle symbolizes the purity of the soul because it is purely made from beeswax.
- Since we can easily carve anything into a candle, the candle symbolizes how our soul can be easily imprinted (with good or bad).
- The candle symbolizes God’s Grace as wax is made from blooming flowers that give forth fragrance.
- Just as the candle gives food to the flame, so by Theosis (our nature is made into flame that burns sin and gives light)
- The candle symbolizes the light of Christ which gives light in the darkness.
- The candle symbolizes the light and peace that every Christian must have. When the candle burns it enlightens and comforts mankind giving light in the darkness.
Our holy father Nicodemus of Mount Athos gives us these 6 explanations:
- We light candles for the glory of God who is the true and only light that enlightens every man.
- We light candles to disperse the darkness of the night to comfort ourselves from the fear of darkness.
- We light candles to show the joy that is in our hearts.
- We light candles to honor saints and martyrs of our Faith just as early Christians lit candles at the graves of the martyrs.
- We light candles to symbolize our good works, as the Lord says, “Thus let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens”.
- We light candles for the forgiveness of sins of both those who light the candles and of those for whom the candles are lit. For this reason, in churches in many places, there are separate candle stands for the living and other ones for the dead.