I just submitted a column for CatholicPhilly on blessings, and so was browsing the General Introduction to The Bookof Blessings. On the matter of sacramentals (of which blessings are one sort), the introduction quotes Sacrosanctum Concilium, Vatican II's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (If you read Latin, the title — This sacred council — may make little sense vis-à-vis the subject matter, but it is customary to refer to these documents by the first two words in Latin): ...the effect of the liturgy and the sacramentals is that almost every event in their lives is made holy by divine graces that flows from the paschal mystery of Christ's passion, death and resurrection..."
On the Feast of the Transfiguration last week I was in downtown San Luis Obispo, where one of the California missions is located. My kids were wandering around on their own while the Irreverent Reverend's wife took my niece and nephew to the dentist. I wandered into the small mission church (surprised to find it much smaller than the mission church which is my parent's parish, SLO is now the big town and San Miguel a sleep hamlet), and around the corner to discover a small chapel, aglow with real candles. I understand the reasons that many churches have gone to electric votive candles (or you can light one on the web), but for many reasons, I find that I cannot accept a substitute for a real flame, for something risky, messy and that I can see change in the burning.
Crash joined me in lighting candles - for the intentions of friends; for my mother; for my Uncle Norb on this, the anniversary of his death; and for Tom — who I married 31 years ago this week, more than half a life time ago. Big things, little things, all brought to this altar, all washed in the light from the candles, all held in the mystery of passion, death and resurrection. All made holy in the graces that flow, Light from Light.