Behind Incense Apologetics


#1

I had a recent objections to Catholic worship by a Protestant.

  1. The Protestant I know argues that throughout the O.T, the use of incense is a type for prayer and that now that we have the new covenant of N.T, prayer (and direct access to God by individual believer) has rendered the use of incense obsolete. In essence, we do not need priests and incense anymore because we can all pray directly to God individually.

Actually I get variations on this argument all the time. I not very good of explaining this perception I’ve encountered but perhaps people here can direct me to further reading. The above example is to me related to how Protestants view the O.T and exatcly how it is fullfilled in the N.T. There seems to be certain mentality among some non-denominational protestants I know of that are characterized by detestation of Church structures and sacraments. I once heard a Protestant I conversed describe the practice of Old Testament in somewhat negative terms. This person argued that while the Jews had God in their amidst (A pillar of Fire), they nevertheless had to “go thru a priest.” There seems to be a assumption that Christ did away everything except the universal priesthood of all believers. The Protestants I’ve encountered seem to view the Catholic Church as wrongly reviving O.T structures that were destroyed when the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70.A.D. I once heard Marcus Grodi (EWTN, THE JOURNEY HOME) remark about the continuation of the Old Testment Church fullfilled and continued in the Catholic Church. I come to realize objections to the Mass, Confession, Apostolic Succession, etc have this understanding of the New Covanant underlying them.
When I was journeying toward the Catholic faith, I began to realize the nature of New Testment scripture. It became obvious to me especially in Paul’s letters that there was some “prior” understanding in reading them. Paul mentions the office of Bishop in passing without going into any detail. It became clearer to me that episcopate of the Apostles was not just remedial measure afterwhich it was just the individual believer after the twelve all died but was meant to continue in some form.

How can I go about answering the Protestant view of New Covenant regarding how it fulfills the old. Can someone recommend some books on this?


#2

then I suppose as the Psalms are OT worship this person’s denomination no longer prays with the psalms.


#3

“The Lambs Supper” written by Scott Hahn is a good book to either read yourself, or give to your friend to read.

It is an easy read on how the Mass is biblical, both OLD Testement and New Testement. Dr. Hahn explains in his book how the Old Testement actions such as incenses and candles…etc… have a proper place in todays worship.

This was one of the books I read on my road to converting to the church, it answered many questions I had in an easy to follow manner. :thumbsup:


#4

I like incense and miss it at Mass.


#5

I do too miss incense and enjoy each of the rare times they use it these days. I didn’t like it as a kid, just because I didn’t like the smell, but I appreciate it more as an adult It does have good use as it helps to engage all the senses in worship.


#6

This is a curious charge for them to make since there is no prohibition against incense in the NT. Since incense actually doesn’t do anything, but is, as you said, merely symbolic of our prayers, what is their objection? I suspect you are right in guessing this is a knee-jerk reaction to anything Catholic. It is entirely an external aesthetic meant to teach and call to mind a truth of our Faith (in this case that our prayers are “ascending” to heaven). They may as well object to having flowers in their church (maybe they do).

Thus the first question to ask them is: *What difference does it make? *


#7

To directly address your question, here is what the Catechism says:

**The Old Testament **

121 The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value,92 for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.

122 Indeed, "the economy of the Old Testament was deliberately so oriented that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, redeemer of all men."93 "Even though they contain matters imperfect and provisional,"94 the books of the Old Testament bear witness to the whole divine pedagogy of God’s saving love: these writings "are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way."95

123 Christians venerate the Old Testament as true Word of God. The Church has always vigorously opposed the idea of rejecting the Old Testament under the pretext that the New has rendered it void (Marcionism).

**The unity of the Old and New Testaments **

128 The Church, as early as apostolic times,104 and then constantly in her Tradition, has illuminated the unity of the divine plan in the two Testaments through typology, which discerns in God’s works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son.

129 Christians therefore read the Old Testament in the light of Christ crucified and risen. Such typological reading discloses the inexhaustible content of the Old Testament; but it must not make us forget that the Old Testament retains its own intrinsic value as Revelation reaffirmed by our Lord himself.105 Besides, the New Testament has to be read in the light of the Old. Early Christian catechesis made constant use of the Old Testament.106 As an old saying put it, the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.107

130 Typology indicates the dynamic movement toward the fulfillment of the divine plan when "God [will] be everything to everyone."108 Nor do the calling of the patriarchs and the exodus from Egypt, for example, lose their own value in God’s plan, from the mere fact that they were intermediate stages.

92 Cf. DV 14.
93 DV 15.
94 DV 15.
95 DV 15.

104 Cf. 1 Cor 10:6,11; Heb 10:l; l Pet 3:21.
105 Cf. Mk 12:29-31
106 Cf. 1 Cor 5:6-8; 10:1-11.
107 Cf. St. Augustine, Quaest. in Hept. 2,73:PL 34,623; Cf. DV 16.
108 1 Cor 15:28.

In addition to the books recomended above, I’d add “A Father Who Keeps His Promises” by Scott Hahn. He wrote it with the intention of using it as a high school textbook for his children to explain the broad plan of salvation as found in the Bible.


#8

I like incense and miss it at Mass.

and

I do too miss incense and enjoy each of the rare times they use it these days. I didn’t like it as a kid, just because I didn’t like the smell, but I appreciate it more as an adult It does have good use as it helps to engage all the senses in worship.

As a child I loved the smell of incense. When everything changed I really missed is. Ten years ago I found this parish and we have incense at 3 masses every Sunday, and Holy Days of Obligation. www.atonementonline.com

LOVE IT:love: LOVE IT:love:


#9

So your friend claims that there should be no incense because of the NT? How about this?

“Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne.
The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.” (Revelation 8:3-4)

Seems to me that God favors the use of incense in heaven. All the more reason for us to use it here.

I love incense too, although those of us in the choir don’t appreciate singing through a cloud of it- especially when one of the priests decides that the choir needs “extra” sanctification.


#10

This is not to get off topic. I asked, as a kid, why the family lighted candles when we went to pray before the Virgin Mary. I was told the smoke carries the prayers up to heaven.

As an adult I knew the incense was to purify the altar. But I imagined that it carried prayers up to heaven.


#11

Just Comment. I’ve found Low-Church Protestants when they have the Liturgical language of the Book of Revelation pointed out to them will often answer -

well Revelation is just filled with symbolism. Like the way they look at John 6.


#12

[quote=philipmarus]Just Comment. I’ve found Low-Church Protestants when they have the Liturgical language of the Book of Revelation pointed out to them will often answer -

well Revelation is just filled with symbolism. Like the way they look at John 6.
[/quote]

OK, but many / most of these same Protestants still “break bread” even though they believe the bread and wine is just symbolic, right?

If so, then why the problem with using incense in a symbolic manner?

It is unfortunate that we even need to defend such ridiculous things. I can accept the logic behind someone not believing Catholic teaching is true due to their (faulty) understanding of Church teachings and doctrines. What is difficult for me to understand is the focus on something like the use of incense as an example of how us Catholics are on the road to perdition.


#13

Besides asking him why Protestants continually, in every way try to “dumb down” :eek: Christianity ( I doubt asking this question will gain many converts), I would ask this person if they believe in the Old Testament prophecies. If he does:

Malachi 1:11
For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.

This verse when read in context is clearly a prophecy of worship to come. The pure offering spoken of is Christ. However, the prophecy says the offering will be offered constantly and everywhere, not a one time thing. We as Catholics know that this form of worship is the Mass. :thumbsup:


#14

[quote=jaz1976]Besides asking him why Protestants continually, in every way try to “dumb down” :eek: Christianity ( I doubt asking this question will gain many converts), I would ask this person if they believe in the Old Testament prophecies. If he does:

Malachi 1:11
For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.

This verse when read in context is clearly a prophecy of worship to come. The pure offering spoken of is Christ. However, the prophecy says the offering will be offered constantly and everywhere, not a one time thing. We as Catholics know that this form of worship is the Mass. :thumbsup:
[/quote]

I agree with you. My experience with some fundamentalists is they will try to get around it like this by straining the text like this:

They will say the part of the verse referring to incense to be prayers offered in everyplace but they will read the rest of sentence about a “pure offerring” to a one time sacrifice of Christ.
In other words they read it the incense part as referring to prayers all over the world, but the latter half of the sentence as only to one sacrifice in Jerusalem. they seem to forget about the “And” which connects the “a pure offering” part to the "For from the rising of the sun to its setting " part of the verse. In other words, the Incense (prayer) part occurs in every place, while the pure offering occurs in only one place and is not re-presented in everyplace.
I find this inconsistent reading of the verse though.


#15

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