New Liturgical Movement: Piously Discarding Blessed Wax: A Quodlibetal Question

However, everyone knows what happens with votive candles, tea-lights, and even tapers: they burn down to a certain point, and then the wick is no more, leaving a chunk of wax residue. Depending on how well or poorly a given candle has burned, there can be a decent amount of leftover wax. For a short time, I was throwing away the remainders, but then I began to have qualms about discarding the wax of candles that had been solemnly blessed. So I asked four theologically astute priests for their opinions on what should be done with these scraps. I was intrigued to receive four answers that overlapped in some ways and diverged greatly in others. Here are the first three: 1. The grave danger of disposing of blessed items, fundamentally, is that they may fall into the hands of those who would use them for the occult or other blasphemous purposes. There’s probably little chance of this in the case of candle hubs. Still, out of an abundance of caution, one could bury them or cast them into a “holy fire.” I do not know if maybe houses of religious sisters would be grateful to receive the remnant to melt back into new candles? 2. Your instincts are right and Catholic! Once something is blessed, it should not be simply discarded with the trash. So from time to time I suggest you make a bonfire in your backyard, and throw the tealights on to it. The waxy residue will burn away, and you can then throw the probably blackened and crumpled aluminum containers into the trash. Sed contra: Beware of scrupulosity! 3. The blessing is for a candle, not the wax. When the object no longer can be considered a candle (e.g. it is a molten mass of wax), it has lost its blessing. Remember that if an altar or church is damaged beyond the point where it can function as what it is, it loses its consecration and would have to be reconsecrated upon rebuilding. What was a candle, if it can no longer serve as a candle, is a candle no more. The tension between the first two answers and the third prompted me to pose it as a “quodlibetal question” to an English Dominican Thomist, who sent me the following thorough reply, which I now share with readers, as I believe he has offered the definitive answer.

New Liturgical Movement: Piously Discarding Blessed Wax: A Quodlibetal Question

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