The Incense of Holiness

Here is my latest article for Our Sunday Visitor’s The Catholic Answer…

Our altar boys practically fight for the honor of being the thurifer.

That’s the name for the server who carries the thurible — the censer — in the procession at Mass. They like being thurifer because they get to wear the more ornate lace surplice, and they know thurifer is the most complicated job and is reserved for the older, more experienced boys.

The use of incense is optional for most Masses. It’s used to purify the coffin at funerals and to bless statues and images. However, many Catholic priests choose not to use incense at Mass, and the people of many parishes have forgotten the uses and meaning of incense in worship.

Over the last 50 years many Catholic traditions have been abandoned and forgotten. Too many Catholics simply went through the motions and did not understand what the different devotions and actions of worship meant. When the chance came to abandon the old ways many priests set them aside in an attempt to simplify Catholic worship and make it more accessible for the people.

The article explains the history of the use of incense in worship and why we use it today. It’s a good article to share with your altar servers or include in your parish magazine to explain the use of incense.