Mourning a Life, with iPad Candles

I find myself intrigued by the rich rituals that have emerged to mourn the loss of Steve Jobs, the cultural icon of our media-savvy, technology-driven times.  Most intriguing for me where the images of people gathering in mourning who held up a single lit candle, on their iPads.  It is such a strikingly congruent marker to how Steve Jobs has changed deeply embedded practices of everyday life — including those of mourning and of faith.

And yet I wondered, as I prayed this morning and commended his soul to God:  what ultimately matters in life and in death?  What practices would I want my own dying to yield?  I decided to settle for some real candles being lit, and liturgy being celebrated, and works of mercy being done, in my memory.  At the same time, if someone where to contemplate a candle on their iPad and breathe a prayer for me — why not?


  1. Well said , my dear sister! However, isn’t it ironic that in most of the Catholic parishes there exist oil-based “candles.” Nonetheless, this is what happens when we let sign-value go by the wayside. Some will argue this is what has to do with “safety” or cost saving. I tend to think the latter is more about it. Beeswax candles provide that much needed scent, which brings us to the sacred, not the anemic plastic containers which give off no scent. Not too dissimilar about bread that should look like actual bread and not the anemic wafers. Perhaps they are a wee bit more expensive, but isn’t the Church worthy of such an extravagance? Even the poor cull their resources to put on lavish feasts, and more to over-pouring. Look at the so-called electronic votive lights for intentions. What have we become because of fear or penny-saving obsession? Again, if you water down our signs and symbols, you water down the Faith.

  2. Actually, I’ve been to a church with electric candles. You drop a coin into a slot, and the candle comes on for a set period of time. No danger of fire, and nobody gets a free ride. No coin, no “candle”

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