Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This week the pastoral staff will be on retreat from Tuesday morning July 19 through Friday July 22.  The pastoral offices will be closed except for pastoral emergencies. Our staff retreats are usually held at a retreat center, but due to our budget restraints, this year we will be staying on campus (but out of our offices) and also taking advantage of nearby venues and parks.  On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we will begin our day with the 9:00 am Mass.  You are of course welcome to join us for the Eucharist.  I am pleased that the Wellness Committee of the parish will be the retreat masters with the theme Walking to Wellness with Jesus.  Over the past several months they have been working on our behalf to put together a retreat based on the six dimensions of wellness (spiritual, physical, emotional, vocational, intellectual, and social).  Please keep us in your prayers this week.

In the near future you will notice that votive candles will be installed  in the main body of the church.  These wax candle holders with “electrified flames” will be placed by the statue of our blessed mother Mary holding the child Jesus and by the statue of our patron Francis of Assisi.

Votive candles indicate that someone is praying about something in particular, either for themselves or on behalf of someone else. They are indicative of seeking some favor from the Lord or the saint before whom the votive is placed.  Prayers for a saint’s intercession are common.  Because of their friendship with God in heaven, saints are powerful intercessors.

According to A Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals by Ann Ball, the practice of lighting candles in order to obtain some favor probably has its origins in the custom of burning lights at the tombs of the martyrs in the catacombs. The lights burned as a sign of solidarity with Christians still on earth. Because the lights burned continuously as a silent vigil, they became known as vigil lights (from the Latin vigilia, which means “waiting” or “watching”) and are traditionally accompanied by prayers of attention or waiting. 

The lighting of candles has been observed since the time of the early martyrs.  In burning candles, our prayers rise up to heaven day and night.  Lighting a candle is a way of extending one’s prayer and showing solidarity with the person on whose behalf the prayer is offered.  In the lighting of candles we remember and truly live the words of Our Lord: “I am the Light of the World.”  We not only pray but our prayers become smaller symbols of the One Light of Christ.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark