Is Smoking Cool? And Musical Musings
Cigarette smoking… Not so much… Burnt offerings to God in the form of incense… absolutely! You may have noticed over the last couple years we have regularly used incense at the 10:30am Mass at Immaculate Conception and the 10:00am Mass at St. Joseph.
Now you may be thinking that incense isn’t actually cool. It makes Mass take longer, irritates my lungs, and smells funny. That could all be true for someone; however, the Church in general is a big fan of incense and its theological significance.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which offers us instructions on the celebration of Mass, states, “Thurification or incensation is an expression of reverence and of prayer, as is signified in Sacred Scripture” (Psalm 141:2, Rev 8:3). The quote from the Book of Revelation conveys St. John’s vision of an angel holding a gold censer; the smoke of the incense signified the prayers of the people going to heaven. The quote from the Psalm states, “Let my prayer be incense before you; my uplifted hands an evening offering.” Therefore, incense symbolizes an offering to God and our prayers rising up to Him.
Not only is the offering, the altar, and the Book of the Gospels incensed, but we are incensed. The deacon incenses the priest during the Mass, and then the deacon incenses the people of God. The General Instruction says that people are incensed to remind us of our dignity. As St. Paul says, “For we are the aroma of Christ for God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15). Incense signifies our dignity as baptized members of the Body of Christ.
We use incense at these two Masses for the above reasons. We don’t use incense at all six weekend Masses because it doesn’t seem prudent to do so. In some cases, people have strong reactions to incense, so these individuals know which Masses to attend to avoid it. In addition, the use of incense adds a few minutes to Mass, so we use it at the last Masses of the day, so that Fr. Willig and I aren’t crunched for time.
Staying on the theme of how we celebrate Mass, we will be utilizing new hymnals beginning with the first Sunday of Advent, December 3, 2023. We have purchased the St. Augustine Hymnal for our parishes and we would like to begin introducing it to our parishioners.
There will be a “Hymnal Reveal Meeting” on Thursday, September 14 at 7pm in the Immaculate Conception basement. Anyone who is interested can attend. However, the meeting will be geared to our musicians, cantors, choir members, and accompanists. Like I said, even if you don’t fall into those categories, you can attend.
The goal of this meeting will be threefold: 1) we will discuss why we decided to move away from the Ignatius Pew Missal. 2) We will discuss the process of selecting a new hymnal and explain how we decided upon the St. Augustine hymnal. 3) We highlight some of the features of the St. Augustine Hymnal.
If you’re interested in the new hymnal, feel free to attend on September 14. Also I wish I could think of a better name for the meeting than the, “Hymnal Reveal Meeting,” but sometimes the creativity is just lacking and you don’t have time to ask around before the bulletin article is due.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Sean Wilson