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Candles and prosphora

Everything that we possess or use is a gift from God; therefore, we feel a natural need to give thanks to Him. From time immemorial man has expressed his gratitude to God in the form of offerings taken from his fields and flocks. The Word of God directed the ancient Jews: "Take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the Lord." When the Jews visited the Temple, they always had to bring something in thanksgiving, according to the word of the Lord: "...and none shall appear before Me empty" (cf. Gen. 4:2-4; Exod. 23:15-19, 35:5; Num. 15:18-21; Lev. 23:34-40; 1 Cor. 16:27 ***). In the same way, we, too, should not be empty-handed and ungrateful when we ask God in church for His help and for various favors. Our offerings are used for the maintenance and decoration of the church, for the support of the clergy who have dedicated their lives to the service of God and neighbor, and for the relief of the needy who turn to the Church for assistance.

In apostolic times Christians used to bring to the church oil, wine, bread, incense and wax all things that are needed for divine worship as well as various products, such as honey, which were offered for the love-feasts (meals at which wealthier Christians brought food to serve to those who had gathered for prayer, especially the poorer members of the community) and for assistance to those in need. Gradually these varied offerings came down to two basic items, candles and prosphora (altar breads).

A candle is an expression of the fervor of our faith. Prosphora is given as an offering to God for the remembrance of our relatives and friends, whose names are written in a little book or on a sheet of paper for commemoration. Christian names alone should be used, without surnames, and they should be in the proper form, not a shortened form or a nickname. If written in Russian, they should be in the genitive case.

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