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Friday, December 8, 2023

IN HONOR OF THE FEAST OF LIGHTS (HANUKKAH OR CHANUKAH?) IS IT KOSHER TO USE LIGHTBULBS AT THE TOP OF CANDLES INSTEAD OF WAX OR OIL FLAMES?

 The first time I traveled to Rome was in 1982. I was shocked, shocked, I tell you, when I went into a few of the great churches in Rome to see lightbulbs on the very tall candlesticks in churches and they must have been the highest power possible as I was nearly blinded by them.

This is Santa Croce in Rome, somewhat modern by Roman standards as it was begun in 1913. 

Lightbulbs on tall candlesticks…Kosher or not kosher, I ask you answer and, also, Hanukkah or Chanukah? These are pressing questions!




11 comments:

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I've never encountered bulbs on chandelsticks before - seems too odd to me.

I have seen some candelabra "trees" with bulbs at the ends of the stems and limbs in churches and other places. I think that was a style of the times.

James E Dangerfield said...

Fine for display, but at Mass inappropriate, lazy, contrary to the rubrics and cheap. I guess the issue is if there are lightbulbs at all, which count as candle replacements (not too good) or as light fixtures in their own right. Consider the electric fixtures on either side of the high altar at Sacred Heart in Atlanta, an example of a very tasteful use of electric candles mixed with real.

N said...

The rubrics call for wax candles, if I remember correctly. Rubrics aside, electric "candles" destroy the meaning of candles. Pulled from a Catholic Answers article:

"The chief problem with them is that they aren’t real candles and can’t convey the right symbolism. The essence of a wax candle is that it is consumed. Just as a prayer that accompanies the lighting of a candle takes something out of us—it is a holy work that exacts a cost, however small—so the wax candle gets used up. It “dies” through doing its work. Electric candles don’t “die.” They just recycle. It’s not the same."

And practically, candles were used in the liturgy partly for lighting, as well. Now, we have electric lighting all around a church, but the symbolism remains. There's not really a practically reason to use electric altar "candles," and there are symbolic reasons against them.

To answer the question: not kosher.

Nick

George said...

Flame and fire has much symbolism and meaning in Catholic belief, so I say no to light bulbs on the altar.
If there is a circumstance where a church lacks the material means to regularly replace candles whose usefulness has come to an end, then it would seem to make sense. However, electricity is not without cost and light bulbs will need replacement. I don't know what the typical cost to a parish of candle replenishment, but I would think the means to acquire the necessary funds could be found somehow and somewhere.

George said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob said...

Almost all churches in NYC use electric candles due either to fire code or insurance company demands (or reduced rates), and very common in major metro areas, and spreading elsewhere.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

James - I have been to mass at Sacred Heart, Atlanta, several times. I actually sent Fr. ALLAN McDonald a pic of the light bulb trees in that church this morning.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I did not get it, send again.

James E Dangerfield said...

Father Kavanaugh,

Years ago I often served daily mass at noon when it was often celebrated by that amazing priest, Msgr Walter Donovan (ordained for Savannah in 1944). The church is as beautiful as the parishioners are progressive. They got all bent out of shape with me when I once said “verbum Domini” at the end of the epistle. Anyway, Msgr Donovan moved to St George’s Village at age 93 or so and died a few years later. I was privileged to know him.

George said...

Bob,thanks for bringing up a circumstance where wax candles are prohibited by fire code. I hadn't thought of that. So now I'm thinking that there are electric votive candles as well? No more fumbling trying to light one, but it wouldn't be the same.

Bob said...

George, personally I think it mainly an insurance company thing...as yes, ditto for votives, insert money to turn on an LED. I loath it....next up will be coin operated animatronic robot priests saying Mass.