I don’t believe I’ve ever walked into a Catholic Church and not seen lit candles. Lately, I contemplate the candles where I go to daily Mass, the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi. Most days, there’s no more than four or five people at Mass, but when I walk in, there’s always at least 100 candles lit. This is an old fashioned church with side altars, and paintings of St. Francis in various aspects, and even relics of St. Francis, St. Claire, and St. Anthony of Padua.
Since reading Revelation, lately, we know that the candles are our prayers, and the smoke carries those prayers to the saints in heaven, who present our prayers to God. Just think of all those prayers. If there’s one candle lit in every Catholic Church worldwide, that’s a whole lot of prayers.
I’d like to ask you to remember that candles have another function-they support the Church. I’ve heard it said of my weekday church that, were it not for the candle collection, the church would not survive. And yet it does. So I encourage you, any time you pay a visit to a Church you happen upon, really pay a visit. As Mother Angelica says, on EWTN, keep the Church between your gas and electric bills, so they can pay their bills.
I also want to encourage people to visit the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi. If you come to San Francisco, it’s a little out of the way. It’s in North Beach; if you walk through Chinatown on Kearney, you’re about three blocks from it. As a bonus, two blocks more than that up Columbus Ave, there’s Sts. Peter and Paul, another of the beautiful churches of San Francisco.