The Kandili – Vigil Lamp

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The pace of family life today has become undeniably hectic. The vigil lamp (καντήλι) serves as a means to slow us down. When the family, ‘the little church’, comes together in prayer in front of the iconostasis, it should be a haven, a shutting out of the outside world and an entry into a world of peace.

The kandili is a necessity for ALL Orthodox homes and should be kept alight at all times. It is placed on our iconostasis in front of our icons as a reminder that Jesus Christ is the light of the world and He illumines all.

The Lord also tells His disciples “You are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:14-16).

When lighting the kandili, we need to be attentive. We should clear our minds of all thoughts and recite the Jesus Prayer. We use the best possible olive oil as our offering to God and allow a small, steady flame which does not flicker. The oil used symbolises the infinite mercy of God and is derived from the Greek word for oil – έλαιον – meaning mercy.

Of the many reasons we light the kandili the following are most significant:

  1. To remind us of the need for prayer;
  2. To remind us that Christ is the only true light;
  3. To illuminate the space and drive away the darkness; and,
  4. For the love and honour of His Saints whose light shines according to the Word of God.

We are all given talents to be used for the glory of God throughout our journey toward salvation. If we utilise them to the best of our ability, they become part of that light which enlightens our world.

Source: October-November 2014 Lychnos Edition