An Offering for the Dead
"And you shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may be set up to burn continually." (Exodus 27:20)
Candles have always played an important role in the church. Lit candles are part of the Mass, adoration, and may be utilized in processions, night prayers and other liturgies. In the early Church, candles were kept burning on the graves of martyrs as a sign of honor and remembrance.
In Medieval times it was in common practice to make offerings to maintain lamps that were kept burning on the graves year round in order to comfort the dearly departed. The lights signify the light of Christ - the Eternal Light - to whom all prayers are raised on behalf of the dead. These candles kept silent vigil and began to be called "vigil lights." The offering of a lighted candle for a particular soul, or for a catagory of souls is a worthy offering which will comfort the members of the Church Suffering.
Let’s not forget the poor souls in purgatory who have no one to pray for them. The thought that someone would have no one to pray for them is indeed a chilling thought, but one we must be aware of. Many relatives and friends too soon canonize thier loved ones and cease to pray for those who had died. We must realize the truth: Many people leave behind relatives and friends who neglect to pray for them, perhaps because they forget. Or perhaps because they are no longer believers themselves.
We should continue to truly love our dear dead. When we shall die, they shall remember us at death’s hour with the same love with which we commemorate them during our lives. Light a candle, it entails but a small offering and takes but a moment. Be generous!
"Though the deceased is buried in the earth, thou must not omit to burn oil and wax on his grave, for this is pleasing to God and merits great reward." ~St. Athanasius
St. Gertrude's Prayer for the Holy Souls
"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home, and within my family. Amen. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus "