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Kathy wrote:

Hi guys,

The Church used to require pure bees wax for candles. Now they allow 51% bees wax.

  • Why is that?
  • Doesn't that contradict the principle of only offering our best to God?



  { Why doesn't the Church require pure bees wax for candles any more? }

Eric replied:

Hi Kathy,

The reason beeswax is used is not because it is more valuable or precious than paraffin or other forms of wax. Rather, it is considered symbolic; since the bees that produce it do not mate, the wax was therefore regarded as typifying the flesh of Jesus Christ born of a virgin mother.

Having a 51% beeswax limit keeps the symbolism but permits greater flexibility. While it is noble to spare no expense for God — assuming that the main reason for the mixture of waxes is to save money — as a practical matter, the Church has never strictly required in every case the most expensive materials. The Eucharistic vessels must be of a noble, unbreakable material, and, in general, it is ideal for churches to be artistically pleasing though not all churches may be able to afford to have intricate stonework, gilded walls, 100% beeswax candles, and so forth.

There may be an argument for pure beeswax candles, as the Orthodox still use, and an argument for gold vestments and exquisite stonework, and so forth, but ultimately these are accidents of the faith, not the essence of the faith. Deviating from them may offend our sense of aesthetics and perhaps deprive us of a powerful experience, nevertheless the faith remains the same.


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