Today’s Question: When to Use Incense at Mass

 This question is twofold: 1) At which Masses throughout the year do you use incense? (Let’s set aside special Masses like the funeral Mass); and 2) When during the liturgy do you use incense?  The GIRM allows for the use of incense at Mass during the entrance procession, at the beginning of Mass to incense the altar, at the Gospel procession and proclamation, at the preparation of offerings, and at the showings of the Host and Chalice during the Eucharistic prayer. (What do you think about incense during the Eucharistic prayer?) The concept of progressive solemnity seems a helpful guide in deciding which Masses should use incense and where in the Mass incense should be used. Thus, in most cases you would not use incense; however, during the most solemn days of the year you would use incense profusely throughout the liturgy. In doing this, incense becomes one of many ways in which a liturgy can be made more solemn. What are your thoughts?  What does your parish do, and why? Please comment below.

Moderator’s note: “Non solum” is a feature at Pray Tell for our readership community to discuss practical liturgical issues. The title comes from article 11 of the Vatican II liturgy constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: “Therefore there is to be vigilance among holy pastors that in liturgical action not only are laws for valid and licit celebration to be observed, but that the faithful should participate knowingly, actively, and fruitfully.” (Ideo sacris pastoribus advigilandum est ut in actione liturgica non solum observentur leges ad validam et licitam celebrationem, sed ut fideles scienter, actuose et fructuose eandem participent.) May the series contribute to good liturgical practice – not only following the law, but especially grasping the spirit of the liturgy!

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