[quote="Cat, post:18, topic:291967"]
I'm betting that there are people who will experience an allergic reaction even if there are no physical allergens to trigger one because of their psychological fear that they have of incense and allergy.
We can scoff at this and say, "Hey, get a grip! Overcome your fear!"
But what we say doesn't really matter. Psychological fears are very real. If someone sees/smells incense and panics and as a result, has a physical reaction of some kind (e.g., hyperventilating, throat tightening up, gagging, headache, etc.), well...there's not a whole lot we can do to help them. We really can't be dismissing someone else's reaction just because we don't experience the same reaction.
So I'm guessing that even the most hypo-allergenic incense in the world will cause someone in the congregation to have a reaction, and that would be the end of incense use in the parish, because it would be uncharitable to continue using a product that can trigger any kind of reaction in someone.
It's too bad, and I know that people rail against this and think that others are just being overly-sensitive--but again, we can't cavalierly dismiss the way others are just because we don't experience the same symptoms that they have.
I can see that advertising in advance which Masses will have incense would be kind. But even then, there are probably people who cannot attend any other Mass, and what are those people to do?
In the past, people with allergies would have just put up with their incense allergy, and covered their faces with handkerchiefs or even stood outside the nave and possibly even avoided approaching the front of the nave for Holy Communion. In my opinion, that would probably be a good way for the allergic person to handle incense at Mass if they encounter it. Unfortunately, that's not the way other people handle these things. Many people get angry that they are being subjected to an allergen that isn't a requirement for Mass, and they demand that it be eliminated.
And I think that priests are doing the right thing to be concerned for the comfort and SAFETY of their parishioners and visitors. Some allergic reactions can be fatal. I carry an epi pen because of the possibility of asphyxiation from an allergic reaction. (I'm allergic to sulfa drugs, and sometimes these substances are present in meds that we don't expect them in.)
It's a shame it's so complicated! But it is.
Cat, I think eliminating incense due to allergies goes too far. As you said, incense-free Masses can be advertised. My solution to the rare situation in which an allergic person can't make it to as incense-free Mass is as follows:
Priests can dispense from the Mass obligation. If a person truly can't make it to the incense-free Mass because of a doctor's appointment or other such pressing issue, then the priest can dispense this person from Mass attendance on this occasion and can, if the person in question so wishes, dispense Holy Communion outside of Mass.