Today in Lourdes, I have lit candles for many prayer requests – in thanksgiving, in sorrow, in anguish, in grief, in joy. Each request was embraced by Mary. Each candle is a little reflection of Christ, the Light of the World, illuminating a pathway of hope.

The prayer by the candles speaks about them burning “now or later.” In Lourdes when the candle stands are full, partially burnt candles are removed to make way for new ones. But they aren’t thrown away. Instead, they are re-lit in quieter times. So there’s a beautiful sense that a candle lit today may be re-lit in the winter, perhaps when it is needed most!

And the melted wax is recycled into fresh candles. Laudato Si’.

Two final thoughts about candles, in case they are of any consolation or help today: As one candle is lit from another it is not as if the first one gets dimmer. Instead, the light spreads and grows. That’s an image of our Christian living – every act of love, kindness, generosity & forgiveness is a light lit, an illumination of Christ’s love & hope. 

And another feature of a candle is that in order to give light, it spends itself. That’s such truth of Christian living – I think of those accompanying the homeless, ill, suffering, and hungry, at all hours of the day & night, often at great personal cost. Lights illuminate such hope for others, even as energy is spent. For these quiet heroes of Catholic life, a candle lit for you here today.

Prayers & blessings from Lourdes.

Father Dominic Howarth