No Incense at new Parish

Hello. I moved here a few months now and there has never been a hint of incense.
I’m a convert and used to a Cathedral the last 4 years so maybe I’m spoiled, but this is the largest local parish. Probably 200 people a Mass, but most are pretty much on the north side of 60.

I’ve read the wonderful uses and meanings behind incense. For example most are listed here.

Anyone have any ideas why they might be skipping this? I’ll ask next week because it is something that heightened my time worshiping at every Mass.


Is there an ECC/OCC in your area? We always have lots of incense. My priest calls it “successful Liturgy” when the smoke detector goes off. :thumbsup:

The Latin Churches in the US I’ve been in as far as the OF of the Holy Mass seem to only use incense for funerals, ordinations, and Pascha. I’m sure there are individual exceptions to that.

I think that some parishes dont use it much because of some complaints. Some people say they are very sensitive to the smoke & others to fragrance. Kind of sad. i do understand somewhat, my daughter cannot serve at the altar when incense is being used because it makes her sick, if she is several rows back, she is ok.

While I love incense, I know that the reason we use it only at funerals (priest won’t even use it at the Easter Vigil) is because of the many complaints we get when we do use it. Even for funerals families have been known to request that it not be used because of sensitivity to the smoke.

I know from experience that it can trigger asthma attacks in those who suffer from that: my daughter couldn’t serve when incense was being used and we had to sit in the back so that she wouldn’t be too exposed to it. If the smoke became too thick she would have to leave and would have difficulty breathing for a few days. That said, I’m sure that there aren’t enough asthmatics in our parish to account for all the coughing we hear anytime incense is used and I’m convinced that many would be coughing even if the priest were to swing a brand-new, empty thurible.

In my area, the use of incense varies from parish to parish. Some priests use it, some don’t. One priest who recently began using it at every Mass received so many complaints that he has designated one Sunday Mass as incense-free for the people who are allergic.

Incense also indicates a certain degree of solemnity. If it is used all the time then when it is a feast or solemnity then the incense is no big deal because it is always used.

Also due to fire alarms in our church we can’t use much incense. Even when we use it we have to use a small amount so there is not too much smoke.

We use it sparingly at our parish, except for funerals. I for one am grateful because of respiratory issues. As I get older, it becomes harder and harder for me to sing anyway, and when there’s incense, the choir sometimes loses this alto because I have to go outside to cough.

My parish had a pastor till 2007 who was very reverent and into the “smells & bells” as some people refer to it, and I loved it. Then he got reassigned, and we’ve had several changes of priest; one was ill, then passed away, and so on.

The priests since '07 have not been big incense users, and not so into the “pomp and circumstance,” so to speak. I miss the incense and the formality and the devotions of the former pastor. That doesn’t in any way reflect badly on the pastors since he was here, but I do have a case of “incense nostalgia”! :stuck_out_tongue:

Maybe its the work of the Holy Spirit to direct your interest toward some other part of mass. I love incense. I also don’t miss it much when its gone. There is just so much more important stuff going on!

Not having the incense is kind of like not having french fries in my diet. Could live forever without them; however, life is finer with them (there is such thing as a bad analogy).

This seems like a great idea.

You are absolutely correct, and I meant to mention in my first post that I always try to keep my mind on the fact that the Eucharist is the most important thing about going to Mass. Thanks for pointing out my memory lapse! I try to get all my thoughts into a post but often one or two manage to sneak off!:smiley:

the bells and smells is one of the reason why i go to the church i go to. I love it as it does grab your sense of smell and brings it into the mass plus you see the smoke which is like our prayers going to heaven!

I use to sit right in the front and when they deacon would come down to read the gospel i would get covered in it. Love the smell!!! Depending on the altar server they sometimes can swing it all the way around when walking down the aisle.

Interesting phenomena, The new missal of Paul VI allowed for the use of incense at any mass.

read this from Wikipedia.

"*Roman Rite

Mass as revised by Pope Paul VI
*The Roman Missal as revised in 1969 allows the use of incense at any Mass: in the entrance procession; at the beginning of Mass to incense the cross and the altar; at the Gospel procession and proclamation; after the bread and the chalice have been placed upon the altar, to incense the offerings, the cross, and the altar, as well as the priest and the people; at the elevation of the host and the chalice after the consecration.[3]

The number of swings of the thurible to be used when incensing persons or objects is specified in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:
Three swings: the Most Blessed Sacrament, a relic of the Holy Cross and images of the Lord exposed for public veneration, the offerings for the sacrifice of the Mass, the altar cross, the Book of the Gospels, the Paschal Candle, the priest, and the people.
Two swings (and only at the beginning of the celebration, after the incensing of the altar): relics and images of the Saints exposed for public veneration.
A series of single swings: the altar.
The priest may incense the offerings for Mass by tracing a cross over them with the thurible instead of using three swings of the thurible.[4]

The responsibilities of a thurifer include:
Holding the thurible open to enable the priest to put incense in it, after which he blesses it with the sign of the cross without using any formula of words.
Carrying the thurible in procession (gently swinging if needed to keep the charcoal burning).
Presenting the thurible to the priest or deacon when they need to use it
Incensing (in the absence of a deacon) the priest after the priest has incensed the offering at Mass.

Another server, commonly called a boat boy, may carry a boat or container of incense to add as the thurible burns low.

Tridentine Mass

In the liturgical legislation in force in 1962 very precise rules were laid down about the way the thurible was used. Use of the 1962 texts as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite is still permitted in accordance with the conditions laid down in the document Summorum Pontificum of 2007.

At the end of the offertory at solemn Mass in this form, the offerings are incensed by forming over them with the thurible first three crosses and then three circles, the first two anticlockwise and last clockwise.[5] The number of swings of the thurible while incensing the altar is also strictly prescribed.[6]

In the usual non-solemn celebration of Mass according to the 1962 rubrics, known as Low Mass, incense is not used." *

But even since it is allowed at any mass, Nobody really gave much importance to it since before Vat. II. We just got a new pastor, who is very traditional, He wears fiddle-back Chasubles and Lace Albs. I hope he will Make incense a commonplace in our parish.
I just don’t see why not to have incense, other that the cost of the resin and possible allergic reactions from the congregates.Ok so if some people complained before Vatican II the priest must have just said “offer it up for the sake of tradition”.:smiley:

Our abbey (OF Mass) uses it at:

Masses on Sundays, for feasts and solemnities
Lauds and Vespers on Sundays, feasts and solemnities, at the Gospel Canticle.

The schola still manages to sing on-key in spite of it :smiley:

We use incense at every choral Mass.

This means at least once each Sunday of the year, on almost every Holy Day of Obligation, and at any funerals or weddings that the choir is at.

Use of incense, in addition to being beautiful and lifting one’s mind to God, also provides time for music. During the incensing after the procession, the choir has time while the priest incenses the altar to sing the Introit from the Graduale Romanum. During the Offertory, incensing allows for the proper Offertory to be sung with psalm verses.

There can be no “overkill” of incense, unless a priest were to use it at daily Mass everyday.

I assume you are joking, but wandering pitch is not the problem for most singers who have a problem with incense. It is breathing it in and then coughing or choking due to irritation of their throat or nasal passages. It isn’t funny when it happens to me either as cantor or in the choir. I don’t have asthma yet I’ve had a couple of occasions where it was so bad that I nearly vomited due to the irritation. It has nothing to do with a preference for one form of the liturgy over another or the “reverence” of a particular priest or parishioner. Some people just don’t tolerate smoke of any kind very well and that can develop later in life after years of no reaction or from certain medications that make someone dehydrate more easily than others.

IMO, If someone particularly likes incense during mass, then perhaps they should offer it up when they don’t get it and try to really appreciate the special feast days when they do get it. I believe that is the more compassionate approach in a parish versus telling the people having a physical reaction to the substance to suffer physically and offer that up so that someone else can enjoy a nonessential part of the liturgy. It seems to me having incense at mass is more like having a lovely sweet with a meal. It can enhance it or add to it, but it is not the reason one should approach the table.

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