During Advent and Christmas, there is a tradition of having candles in the windows of our homes. Most people no longer know the reason for this beautiful tradition. Today, candles are seen in some windows throughout the entire year. This beautiful practice stems from the British persecution against the Catholic Church in Ireland, and the British invasion of Ireland. It was a Protestant movement that sought to crush the Catholic Church. Laws were created to eradicate Catholicism by making the practice of the faith all but impossible in Ireland. Catholic clergy were ordered to leave the country by May 1st 1698. Those remaining would be imprisoned and later exiled. Priests that returned were to be hung, drawn and quartered. Celebration of the Mass, Sacraments and Catholic education were strictly forbidden.
Despite the persecution, Catholic priests and bishops refused to abandon the faithful. Catholics who wished to have a priest visit their homes for Christmas would leave their doors unlocked with a lighted candle in the window as a sign to the priest that he could find safe lodging and people who desired the Sacraments. When the British asked about the candles, they were told that it was a sign of their open hearts and open homes to Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, may our candles and those we see during this Holy Season, be a sign of our desire for our Eucharistic Lord and His welcome in our hearts and in our homes.