23 December 2016

Censing the Elements at the Offertory

Few liturgical ceremonies seem to me more appropriate than the way the Offering of the munera is immediately followed by the sight of smoke rising above the Altar ... just as smoke went up from the great Altar in the Temple at Jerusalem. It is, surely the the moment when it most obvious that we are the True Israel.

 Let this incense, blessed by Thee, ascend unto Thee, O Lord; and may Thy Mercy come down upon us. The priest says this as he swirls the incense all over and all round the munera which have been set upon the Altar of the Christian Oblation. The words come from Psalm 140/141.

"The incense was offered morning and evening on its own special golden altar in the Holy Place, in front of the veil, at first by the High Priest only, but under the Second Temple, by the inferior priests also, chosen daily by lot for the office, as was Zachariah the father of John Baptist. Besides this separate burning of incense as an independent offering, it was joined to all the other oblations "of a sweet savour", as something which gave them acceptance; and similarly in the Apocalypse the Angel who stands at the altar with a golden censer, offers the incense 'with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne'. To the Temple sacrifice is added the perpetual intercession of CHRIST, as the Great Angel of the Covenant (compare the prayer Supplices te rogamus), that is, Christ presents His petition amidst the smoke which rises from off the altar of gold."

From the writings of one of our Tractarian Fathers.


Jack said...


I was listening to this talk recently, between two Hebrew Catholics, on how they feel more at home in the traditional rite, and how it is in better continuity with the religion of the ancient Israelites:


I think that the liturgical revolution had much to do with a false 'antiquarianism' that imagined that the Mass was originally celebrated as a communal feast, rather than as a ritual sacrifice. But the Gospel and the Epistles refer to Christ as the Lamb of God and propitiatory sacrifice, so I do not find it difficult to imagine that the Mass was celebrated in a way very similar to the way that sacrifices in the Temple were offered, except with the Lamb of God substituting for the animal sacrifice.

Deimater said...

Ordinariate priests seem to follow the EF manner of censing the oblations. But I see no justification (alas) in the missal or the Rubrical Directory. What, then, are we to say (and do)?

bombcar said...

Do it for 30 years and then the custom attains the force of law.

Anonymous said...

I have frequently seen incensation of the altar and the gifts, and of course the people, at the offertory in the Ordinary Form. Fr. H's point about the direct link to the Hebrew Temple sacrifices is an excellent one and very useful, but I don't see any need for the discussion to be turned into another EF v. OF/NO debate. Some people seem to base their criticisms of the Novus Ordo (and there are valid criticisms to be made) on the worst abuses of the rite and internet videos of "clown masses" etc. Most of the problems come from priests not following the missal, but they are not universal. Incense is a normal part of the main Sunday mass in many parishes.

Patrick said...

In reply to Thomas about incense being common at Sunday Masses in the OF. That has certainly
not been my experience where I live.