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Question 337

I would like to know why we keep a light burning in the tomb they are buried in. My parents have been dead 9years and 6 years and I still go every week but out of Curiosity I would like to know why we do it thanks 



Answer to Question 337


There are many symbolisms associated with lighting a candle or vigil lamp (kantilla) according to where and why we light them. In all cases the first explanation must be that the flame represents Christ who is the light of the world (John 8:12) who illuminates our souls. Lighting a vigil lamp at a grave also represents the light of Christ shining and leading the way for the departed souls to find their way to paradise through the darkness of death. 

Lighting a candle or vigil lamp is at the same time a prayer offered on someoneís behalf. For a candle we say that as the wax melts so also may the sins committed by someone be dissolved. For a vigil lamp we have a play with the Greek word for oil and mercy which although spelt differently sound exactly the same. Ἐλαιος means oil and Έλεος means mercy and we say that as the Ἐλαιος (oil) burns may the Lordís Έλεος (mercy) be upon those for whom the lamp was lit.