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Why We Light Candles Before Icons

By Bishop Nicolai Velmirovich

FIRST - because our faith is light. Christ said: "I am the light of the world (John 8:12). The light of the vigil lamp reminds us of that light by which Christ illumines our souls.

SECOND - in order to remind us of the radiant character of the saint before whose icons we light the vigil lamp, for saints are called the sons of light. (John 12:36, Luke 16:18).

THIRD - in order to serve as a reproach to us for our dark deeds, for our evil thoughts and desires, and in order to call us to the path of evangelical light; and so that we would more zealously try to fulfill the commandments of the Savior. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works." (Matthew 5:16)

FOURTH - so that the vigil lamp would be our small sacrifice to God, who gave Himself completely as a sacrifice to us, and as a small sign of our great gratitude and radiant love for Him from Whom we ask in prayer for life, health, salvation and everything that only boundless heavenly love can bestow.

FIFTH - so that terror would strike the evil powers who sometimes assail us even at the time of prayer and lead away our thoughts from the Creator. The evil posers love the darkness and tremble at every light, especially at that which belongs to God and to those who please Him.

SIXTH - so that this light would rouse us to selflessness. Just as the oil and wick (or candle) burn in the vigil lamp submissive to our will, so let our souls burn with the flame of the love in all our sufferings, always being submissive to God's will.

SEVENTH - in order to teach us that just as the vigil lamp cannot be lit without the holy fire of God's grace, even if it were to be filled with all the virtues. All these virtues of ours are, after all combustible material, but the fire which ignites them proceeds from God.

EIGHTH - in order to remind us that before anything else the Creator of the world created light, and after that everything else in order. And, it must be so also at the beginning of our spiritual life, so that before anything else the light of Christ's truth would shine within us. May the Light of Christ illumine you as well!

Compliments of St. Michael the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral Archpriest, John O. Zabinko, Dean P.O. Box 697 Sitka, Alaska 99835

Additional reason added by Father Andrew Harrison.

NINE-as a remembrance of those who we are praying for. For the good health and healing of the living and for the eternal rest of our departed loved ones who have fallen asleep in the Lord.

"Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light of revelation to the Gentiles, And to be the glory of Your people Israel." Luke 2: 29-32