Every year during November 1 and 2, Filipinos flock to cemeteries or columbaria across the country to visit and pray for their departed loved ones. This tradition also serves as a family reunion for some.
During Undas, Filipinos also light candles in their homes for the dead. But do we know why lighting candles is important during All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day? (Read: All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, & Halloween: What’s Their Difference?)
To Extend Prayers
Candles play a vital role in the Catholic Church, however, its symbolism has long been used in religious practice.
In Judaism, a perpetual light was maintained burning in the Temple and synagogues to show the presence of God, while in the Roman pagan culture, candles were also utilized for religious and military processions to indicate the presence of the gods.
Roman Catholics adopted the use of lit candles for Mass, liturgical procession, evening prayers, funeral processions, and to show reverence to the Blessed Sacrament.
Many Catholics also light candles as an aid to prayers. For them, lighting candles is also a form of offering for a petition or a simple thanksgiving. (Read: The Impressive Ways Other Countries Celebrate All Souls Day)
“Lighting candles is also an external manifestation of our prayer,” Bishop Broderick Pabillo adds.
To Remember the Dead
In a Mass celebrated by Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David in 2017, he explained that lighting candles during “Undas” is recognizing the innate worth and dignity of the dead as persons created by God in his likeness.
“We light candles because we want to make sure no one is left behind or forgotten. We believe that not all who have died are resting in peace, so we pray for them and light candles on their behalf,” David says.
To Send Offering for the Soul to Enter Heaven
For Catholics, lighting candle is an old custom that goes back thousands of years. Jesus himself used the symbol of light to guide his followers and lighting candles means bringing followers closer to Christ.
It is said that candles are lighted near the tombs of the deceased as an offering for their souls to escape purgatory and enter heaven. (Read: My Pope Asks: Is Halloween Catholic?)
For Catholics, it helps alleviate a soul’s holy suffering in purgatory and shortens the time spent there for purification.