Vigil confirmation and incense? - allergy/asthma help!


#1

I’m supposed to be confirmed at the upcoming Vigil. The problem I just realized is that the Vigil uses incense. A lot of incense. And I am fiercely allergic to smoke of all sorts as well as most sorts of perfumes. How much incense does the vigil require? I remember being a considerable amount last Easter, but do they have to use that much? I would really hate to not be able to have my confirmation and first communion up with everyone else.

(I know, I know, I should ask my parish - trouble is with their organization level I would like to have some ideas first. Otherwise it seems too likely that they’ll hem and haw and nothing will get done.)


#2

AFAIK they don't have to use any.

Explain to them exactly why it is such an important issue to you, to as many people as yoi can get a hold of. hopefully that will prevent the hemming and hawing.

And seek the advice of your doctor as well - maybe there are medications that you can take beforehand to prevent such a severe reaction.


#3

I don't recall ever attending an Easter Vigil Mass when incense was not used.

If the front pews are close to the sanctuary (as in a smaller church), people sitting on those pews will get more smoke than in the back of the church.

Maybe you can ask your pastor for permission to sit in the back of the church until after his homily, at which time you can join the other candidates (make sure one of them saves you a space to sit). Perhaps you can explain that you need to minimize the risk of an asthma attack (or whatever reaction you usually have because of your extreme sensitivity toward smoke). Call the parish asap, and ask to speak to the pastor (the person who makes the decision) -- don't wait until the last minute to ask.

And congratulations! Maybe your celebration of encountering our Lord in His sacraments be full of joy!


#4

[quote="quiet52, post:3, topic:319078"]
I don't recall ever attending an Easter Vigil Mass when incense was not used.

If the front pews are close to the sanctuary (as in a smaller church), people sitting on those pews will get more smoke than in the back of the church.

Maybe you can ask your pastor for permission to sit in the back of the church until after his homily, at which time you can join the other candidates (make sure one of them saves you a space to sit). Perhaps you can explain that you need to minimize the risk of an asthma attack (or whatever reaction you usually have because of your extreme sensitivity toward smoke). Call the parish asap, and ask to speak to the pastor (the person who makes the decision) -- don't wait until the last minute to ask.

And congratulations! Maybe your celebration of encountering our Lord in His sacraments be full of joy!

[/quote]

Hmmm ... I've not attended Easter Vigils very often, from memory it was not used at the last one I attended (perhaps I just didn't notice?) Anyone familiar enough with the rubrics to tell us?

I know most of the Easter Day masses I've attended have not used incense.


#5

[quote="LilyM, post:4, topic:319078"]
Hmmm ... I've not attended Easter Vigils very often, from memory it was not used at the last one I attended (perhaps I just didn't notice?) Anyone familiar enough with the rubrics to tell us?

I know most of the Easter Day masses I've attended have not used incense.

[/quote]

It's traditional to use incense at the Vigil: to incense the Paschal Candle, the altar, the Gospel Book, etc., but it's not mandatory and for a few years in my parish the priest refused to use incense at all, not even for funerals, for precisely the reasons that concern the OP.

Our daughter is asthmatic and when she was an altar server found that being in the sanctuary when they used incense always triggered an attack so she never served at the Vigil or any time incense was used. We'd sit at the back whenever they used incense and she could usually tolerate that if she was generally healthy.


#6

Hello there!

First of all share your concern with the appropriate people in your parish.

Secondly, could you not take the medicine before the mass begins? My husband has severe asthma triggered by exercise, and he takes medicine around 30min before the time he has to do something that might trigger the attack.

Just my two cents, but maybe you could ask of your doctor about taking the meds before this particular event, especially since its only once. And definitely, do not forget to take your meds with you, just in case!!! :thumbsup:


#7

[quote="quiet52, post:3, topic:319078"]
I don't recall ever attending an Easter Vigil Mass when incense was not used.

If the front pews are close to the sanctuary (as in a smaller church), people sitting on those pews will get more smoke than in the back of the church.

Maybe you can ask your parish priest t for permission to sit in the back of the church until after his homily, at which time you can join the other candidates (make sure one of them saves you a space to sit). Perhaps you can explain that you need to minimize the risk of an asthma attack (or whatever reaction you usually have because of your extreme sensitivity toward smoke). Call the parish asap, and ask to speak to the parish priest (the person who makes the decision) -- don't wait until the last minute to ask. he mite not put so much incense in the thurible

In nomine Patris, + et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
Introibo ad altare Dei. R: Ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.

[/quote]


#8

[quote="Rafaela, post:6, topic:319078"]
Hello there!

First of all share your concern with the appropriate people in your parish.

Secondly, could you not take the medicine before the mass begins? My husband has severe asthma triggered by exercise, and he takes medicine around 30min before the time he has to do something that might trigger the attack.

Just my two cents, but maybe you could ask of your doctor about taking the meds before this particular event, especially since its only once. And definitely, do not forget to take your meds with you, just in case!!! :thumbsup:

[/quote]

I can try, but...I'm not sure how well it works. What I have doesn't seem to function like normal asthma where I get quick attacks - I'm much more resilient in the short term but I can be sick for days or weeks after too much exposure. I don't technically even have asthma for certain; what I have is called a "chemical sensitivity." I've sort of been hitting a case with doctors where no one knows quite what to do other than tell me to stay away from irritants as much as I can. I have some improvement from asthma meds but it's not as much as most people would show.


#9

[quote="DarkLight, post:1, topic:319078"]
I just realized is that the Vigil uses incense. A lot of incense.

[/quote]

Personally, as someone who often serves as thurifer, who also has asthma and allergies, I've never even heard of anyone having a reaction to the incense (and our Master of Ceremony's motto is "If you can see the rafters, you're doing something wrong,"!).
In my experience, much irritation has to do with the actual type of incense used. The cheap, synthetic stuff often sets off coughing fits because it's so dry. If the parish uses a high-quality incense, which retains some moisture, it should produce a more pleasant, damper smoke.
There's also the problem that it isn't the incense – it's the charcoal. The black layer on the outside should be burnt off completely, if not, that stuff will make you choke up easy. The thurible should also be cleaned regularly to make sure none of the charcoal is caked on.
Finally, I'd recommend you ask your pastor (or maybe donate yourself, in lieu of your weekly monetary donation to the parish) some high-quality Byzantine incense. I find the byzantine varieties often have the lightest 'flavor' to them

I know that I didn't really address the question, but I hope you'll be able to find some use out of something there!


#10

[quote="DarkLight, post:1, topic:319078"]
I'm supposed to be confirmed at the upcoming Vigil. The problem I just realized is that the Vigil uses incense. A lot of incense. And I am fiercely allergic to smoke of all sorts as well as most sorts of perfumes. How much incense does the vigil require? I remember being a considerable amount last Easter, but do they have to use that much? I would really hate to not be able to have my confirmation and first communion up with everyone else.

(I know, I know, I should ask my parish - trouble is with their organization level I would like to have some ideas first. Otherwise it seems too likely that they'll hem and haw and nothing will get done.)

[/quote]

The Liturgy and music director in my church is extremely asthmatic, yet she insist on the use of incense, not only at the vigil but throughout the entire Easter Season. She prepares so she can sing.
A lot of incense is used during the entire Easter Vigil. This is something you should be prepared for. Take what ever medication that you and your doctor see appropriate.
Also keep in mind, unlike the Priest and the Deacon, you are not likely to be engulfed with smoke. It usually rises to the ceiling and the ventilation system will take it out, leaving that wonderfully lingering perfume.
Peace,
DCNFAB


#11

Personally I would be more concerned about the pollen from the Easter lilies. :D

I have found that Eastern Orthodox incense is less offensive to allergy sufferers because it is made from pure gums and resins and doesn't have wood shavings like many Western incenses do.


#12

Being asthmatic myself, I suggest that you speak with your priest asap. My priest has seen me have trouble breathing on numerous occasions and it's not fun. If incense is going to be a problem, you can always ask if you can join the church on another occasion, that way your health won't be at risk. Adult confirmations do occur on other occasions other than Easter Vigil. That way you can attend as much of the vigil as you can. Another option might be for you to watch the mass on TV that way, you can enjoy the celebration without putting your health at risk. If you chose to follow my advice, please be sure to select a mass where incense will not be used. For example there are certain celebrations during the year where incense is used.

Speak with your priest and let us know what he states. Asthma is a growing problem which affects us all. The last thing we want is someone to get sick from it.


#13

[quote="Cavaille-Coll, post:11, topic:319078"]
Personally I would be more concerned about the pollen from the Easter lilies. :D

I have found that Eastern Orthodox incense is less offensive to allergy sufferers because it is made from pure gums and resins and doesn't have wood shavings like many Western incenses do.

[/quote]

I'm actually not allergic to pollen, thankfully. I am, however, extremely sensitive to a lot of scents. That would be part of my worry - I could likely react just to the smell of incense, even if there was almost no smoke.

I know I could attend the vigil, but I don't know if I could be up on the platform the whole 2 hours. And I wouldn't want to come up halfway if I would be the only one doing it - I'd be dead terrified the whole time just thinking about it!


#14

I highly suggest that you speak with your priest and see what he thinks. If it's the scents that cause problems, I would also speak to him about the other masses that happen during Easter since there might be another where incense is also used. I react to some scents as well and it's not easy when one can't breath during mass. If the smell of incense can cause a breathing problem, ask him about my idea to join the church another day. I did that and it was wonderful. I was able to have a small reception afterwords with all of my friends and family. It was so much fun.


#15

I can empathize … I have quirky medical reactions as well and it’s often the uncertainty that causes as much duress as the ailment.

I don’t know if it’s possible, but while consulting the priest, any chance you could get a “pre-Holy Week” sniff of the incense they are going to use to see what (if any) reaction occurs from a small exposure? That might help you be able to make a better decision re:the vigil, and give you more peace of mind about either participating or rescheduling the ceremony for another mass?


closed #16

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.