Policy Concerning the Use of incense at Liturgy
In the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican Churches, the use of incense in worship services is a long-standing tradition which has its roots in the Old and New Testaments (ps. 141:2 “Let my prayer rise like incense before you…” and Luke 1: 10 “…when the whole assembly of the people was praying at the hour of the incense offering…”). The incense we use at Sacred Heart is made of the highest quality resins and gums and contains no chemicals.
We are aware that some people have respiratory problems which are exacerbated by the use of incense. Therefore, we reiterate what has long been policy regarding its use here at Sacred Heart Church.
Incense must and will be used at any liturgy which includes the exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament; on Holy Thursday; and at the Easter Vigil.
We are likely to use incense at Advent and Lenten Vespers, at Christmas night and daytime Masses, at funerals, and at a solemn Mass celebrated by a bishop.
We will never use incense at the Sunday 8:00 am Mass. Only by rare exception will incense be used at the Saturday 4:30 mass.
Incense is used at Mass as follows: it leads the procession into the church; the priest incenses the altar; before the gospel is proclaimed the gospel book is incensed; the bread and wine are incensed at the altar as is the altar, the priest and the assembly; at the showing of the Eucharist bread and chalice after consecration. (General Instructions of the Roman Missal no. 235)
At Sacred Heart, incense will be used at the Sunday 10:15 a.m. Mass on the following feasts:
The Epiphany of the Lord, the Sunday following January 1;
The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi);
The Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King
If you or any family member is adversely affected by incense we suggest you consult this guide and avoid those few times each year when incense will be used during worship services. Because there are many things to do and think of in preparing each liturgy, we cannot promise to remind you prior to each use of incense, although we will make an effort to do that.