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A History Of The Mass And Its Ceremonies In The Eastern And Western Church -Rev John O'Brien A.M.

ALONGSIDE the crucifix there are placed on every altar for the celebration of Mass two candlesticks with candles of pure wax burning in them during the entire time of divine service. At Solemn High Mass the rule requires at least six. At a Low Mass celebrated by a bishop it is customary to light four. An ordinary priest can never employ more than two. When the Holy Father celebrates High Mass the candles used are always ornamented (Martinucci, ii. p. 31, note).

The rule requiring the candles to be of pure wax is very stringent, and dispensations from its observance are rarely granted unless in difficult circumstances. The Catholic missionaries in some parts of the empire of China and throughout Hindostan have, when pressed by necessity, been allowed by the Holy See to use oil instead of candles. Sperm candles and those known as paraffine are wholly interdicted, unless in case of churches whose poverty is so great that none others can be purchased. Besides the natural reason for prohibiting the use of any lights but those of pure wax—viz., because those of any other material usually emit an offensive odor—there are many spiritual or mystical reasons also, the principal of which is that the pure wax symbolizes our Lord’s humanity, which was stainless and sinless; and the light his divinity, which always shone forth and illuminated his every action.








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