Altar candles at weddings

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I enjoy your daily offerings. 

A visiting priest commented that the altar candles remain unlit for a wedding ceremony outside Mass. True? To me it seems that those in attendance will think the servers just forgot to do their duty. Would this ruling also apply to the Paschal Candle on prominent display during the Easter season? Your thoughts?


A: We just don’t have any rules on altar candles at weddings without Mass, so it’s hard to say anything definitive. However, I think that if candles were not to be used, that would be so indicated.

The Ceremonial of Bishops often provides details that help interpret the other liturgical books. It says nothing about candles for matrimony within Mass or matrimony without Mass. However, for a solemn celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, candles are carried in procession and they are to be set “near the altar or on a side table or at some nearby place in the sanctuary” (194). That tells me that lit altar candles are not restricted to the celebration of Mass.

The missal’s last rubric for the Easter Vigil says, “The paschal candle is lit in all the more solemn liturgical celebrations of this period.” Again, it does not restrict the lighting of this candle to Mass.

Thanks for your comments on my blog.