What’s with all the Candles on the altar?


By Jeremy Kiolbassa, Director of Music & Liturgy

I’ve had a few people ask me about the ‘new’ candles on the altar. There is a two-fold answer as to why we’ve decided to do this. The first part comes from The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, commonly referred to as the “GIRM”. This instruction can be found in the beginning of The Roman Missal, aka that big book that a priest uses to celebrate Mass. In the section where it lists things to be prepared for Mass, it says this:

171. The altar is to be prepared with at least one white cloth. In addition, on or next to the altar are to be placed candlesticks with lighted candles: at least two in any celebration, or even four or six, especially for a Sunday Mass or a Holyday of Obligation, or if the Diocesan Bishop celebrates, then seven candlesticks with lighted candles…

So, although two candlesticks are minimally required, there is an implication that, especially for Sunday Mass, we should have more. In addition, it is important to realize that the candles on and around the altar are meant to symbolize the light of Christ among us. For me, this is the greater reason to do more than the mandated minimum when it comes to altar candles! I find having the altar surrounded by light ads beauty to the prayers and helps us to focus on the Eucharist.

Last, since so many have asked, the candle stands on the altar are in fact from one of the previous renovations of the church (circa the late 1960s?). We would love to ad some more floor standing candles that better match the style of our beautiful Altar and Ambo, but we would need some especially generous donors to make that happen! We are also in need of a new, larger Paschal candle stand. If you have any interest in donating to this, please find me after Mass and let’s chat.

As always, we welcome your feedback.