Incense and Asthma Don't Mix! A Sad Easter...

My husband and I arrived early for Mass this morning. Many people were there. The weather was gorgeous and the church looked beautiful. As it began our young priest led us in a wonderful and exultant Alleluia. The choir has never sounded so lovely. They chimed the church bell. The readers were inspired! It had to be one of the best liturgies I ever attended until…

The incense. :frowning:

I have asthma. I figured they would use it today, so I came prepared. I used my inhaler before we had breakfast and I brought it with me in my purse. I was ok with the entrance procession with incense. I had to use my inhaler after Fr. blessed(?) the altar space with generously re-stoked incense. I was wheezing and coughing by the end of the Gospel. The incense had again been re-stoked and it was swung by an altar server during the entire Gospel reading. I had to leave at that point. I sat in my car, read the Gospel again and prayed while I waited for my husband.

I can’t overstate the extent of my disappointment at having to leave this morning. I was unable to receive communion or to experience the remainder of the gorgeous service. I still feel very sad about it. I am not opposed to incense. I do understand its symbolism in the liturgy. But for me, it means I cannot participate in the Mass. It makes me want to cry!

(Please don’t misunderstand. I am so VERY VERY happy about Easter. Today is a blessed day!)

Thanks for letting me vent!

I grew up with asthma and have had it for years. Now I have COPD as well and incense never bothered me. But not all incense is the same. Maybe you could ask your Pastor to try non chokeing incense. All gums and no bits of leaves. That is what is used in the Orthodox churches every day.

Thanks for the suggestion. They recently began using a new incense. I don’t know if it’s the one you mention here, but it still bothered me. :shrug:

I think it’s more related to whatever it is I’m allergic to, which is unique to each of us. Of course smoke is also a big problem for me regardless of what is causing it- a campfire, the bbq, or cigarettes.

I’m so sorry about the incense. Gosh! How disappointing and sad! I hadn’t given asthma much thought insofar as incense is concerned.

did you sit near the altar? Knowing yourself that you have Asthma, maybe next time sit more in the back at Masses where there is a strong possibility that incense will be used.
At least in the back, you might have more air and nearer a door to be able to step out if needed.

Thank you so very much!

I’m so sorry :frowning: my son has asthma, and the school nurse keeps him and the other students with asthma in the health room during masses when incense will be used. He has started getting panic attacks when he realizes that he is about to have an asthma attack. It’s scary for anyone, especially if you used your inhaler ahead of time!
We found that Saint Bernadette is the patron of asthma :slight_smile: in case you didn’t realize! I am going to get my son a medal and maybe that will help him keep calmer when he feels short of breath.

Hi chefmomster2,

I am so very sorry that this happened to you. I have the same problem with incense. I have asthma, too.

Not only that, but I am also allergic to plants and flowers, so on top of that, I am allergic to Easter Lilies. I choke and wheeze around both. :frowning:

Churches like to use Easter Lilies inside the church at this time of year.

I am sorry to hear this.

But not surprised. Many so-called “traditional” Catholics dont understand how bad incense can be to those who suffer from allergies or asthma can be.

I know for me, incense can cause server migraines. It did on that Easter Vigil I came into full communion.

I am sorry that your Easter experience was marred by this medical reality.

I never knew about St. Bernadette! Thanks for telling me.

I am so sorry that your son is having difficulty. I’m not sure what is worse- the asthma attack or the panic attack-- or the fear of either one! I get panic attacks too. For a long time I couldn’t go to church at all. I think rescue inhalers can initiate panic attacks if you’re prone to them. They make you feel very jittery often, and that can trigger the panic,

I will remember him in my prayers! :slight_smile:

Does your church have a cry room you could sit in? My son has asthma and that’s where I sit with him during masses that use incense. We can see & hear and then communion is brought to us in there. They have never once incensed the cry room. I’m sorry you have asthma. I’m praying my son grows out of his as he gets older. :heart:

My goodness! You’re just plain allergic to Easter! I am sorry. It can be very inconvenient and even dangerous.

Thank you! I did mention it to one of the priests one time. He obviously didn’t understand. He encouraged me to come early so I could sit in the back! :smiley:

Oh well! He meant well! :shrug:

Thanks for your suggestion. I did that once at this church. Unfortunately some of our parents use the cry room as a play room. You could barely hear over the giggles, screams, running and jumping! Oh well! That’s an issue for another day. :slight_smile:

Yes, my Mother used to suffer the same way. I think it is about time we stopped using incense. Seems like more and more people have asthma. A hundred years ago I guess people just died. My Mom used to complain about the heavy use some people made of perfum and powders too. Cure’ of Ares used to have to take smelling salts to keep from passing out - in those days, without modern hygene, people used powder and perfume instead of soap and water :D.



At our former parish I learned to avoid sitting near an especially nice older lady who used half a bottle of cologne each day. :slight_smile: I couldn’t breathe if I sat within smelling distance.

I’m sorry :frowning:

Your health is most important and God knows that. But I see your pain and frustration I too have asthma, it is a scary condition.

I feel bad for the people who have lung issues and can’t be around the incense and perfume. My MIL has COPD and coughs her brains out when they use incense but she always sits right up front. Our parish is small enough that it probably wouldn’t make a difference where she sits. I notice when we go to the Cathedral in the next town over it’s less of an issue - much bigger place.

I remember once last year the alter server used charcoal starter to light the incense. He used so much that the whole congregation was looking around trying to figure out where the smell was coming from (all during the homily).

Maybe it needs to be noted in the bulletin when incense is going to be used at a mass so people know ahead.

I’m so sorry. We didn’t have any incense today. Are you in an area where you can shop around a little for a church that doesn’t use incense on Easter Sunday?

Edited to add - any parish big enough to have overflow Mass on Easter Sunday might be a good option too. Mass loses a little something in the school cafeteria with no music, but there probably wouldn’t be incense either.

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