Saturday, October 8, 2011


Thanks to Dr. Buck Melton, Writer in Residence at Mercer University, who takes most of the Church pictures I post and some he makes look very artistic like Father Dawid Kwiatkowski incensing at what I always jokingly call the "True Mass" to get those who don't like it really going! Why am I like that? I need help! For those who notice a modern censer at the True Mass, please know we have a very beautiful traditional one with the three chains, but one of the chains keeps breaking, making the censer go katty wamp during the celebration of the Mass which is not a pretty picture.

Does your parish use incense? I use to buy into what was called "progressive solemnity" meaning you'd keep your principle Sunday Mass simple during Ordinary Time, dress it up for Easter and Christmas, make it even more stark during Advent and Lent and for Solemnities kick off your shoes and make it smoke.

I don't do that anymore. Our 9:30 AM and 12:10 PM Masses are Sung Masses and we sing everything, including the Sign of the Cross, greetings, etc. We use incense at the beginning, Gospel and Offering of the Gifts.

Our 4:30 PM Vigil, 7:45 AM and 5:00 PM Sunday Masses are sung, but no incense and normally what is sung would be the Collect, Prayer over the Offerings and Post Communion along with the Preface dialogue, preface and Our Father (which is sung at all Masses including its embolism and doxology).

Of course the General Instruction of the Roman Missal suggests that singing the Mass (not necessarily hymns during the Mass) is the ideal even for weekday Masses.

Our cantors always sing the official introit (shorter version from the Roman Missal) offertory and Communion antiphons. Of course on Sunday we also sing a metrical hymn at the procession and at the Communion Procession and recession.

During the week, these propers are spoken, but we sing the Alleluia, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith, Great Amen and Lamb of God. We know these well in English and Latin. The Alleluia is easy to sing in English or Latin and we always do the Great Amen in Hebrew.

So how do we dress up or make more solemn our "incense" Masses at the 9:30 AM and 12:10 PM? Well for special occasions I will sing the Eucharistic prayer from the Calling of the Holy Spirit through the consecration and we'll use incense and torches during the Eucharistic Prayer and at the elevations. That's the extent of our progressive solemnity.

When I first got to St. Joseph, incense was used maybe three times a year at Sunday Mass and at funerals only. So it took some adjustment for the congregation to have it each Sunday and there were limited protests.

We finally settled on only having incense at the 9:30 and 12:10 Masses so that those who found it off-putting could have a Mass without it. We do have one or two people who have serious respiratory problems and really cannot be at a Mass with incense. I don't know what Greek Orthodox people do when they have these problems since the Divine Liturgy always has incense.

I have a reputation for using a lot of incense. I was the "cover boy" for an Augusta magazine called the "Metro Spirit" which had a full front page picture of me incensing away at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity.

Father Dawid Kwiatkowski's ethereal shot above is cooler though!


Robert Kumpel said...

I thought I knew a lot about American slang, but you've stumped me. What does "Katty Wump" mean?

Frajm said...

Well, I certainly hope it doesn't mean anything I didn't intend it, but in my usage, and I guess it must be southern and I pick it up from my southern hick friends when I was a child, meaning something that goes sideways or crooked or otherwise wrong.

Joseph Johnson said...

I am a lifelong sweet tea drinking South Georgian with no known Yankees (or Westerners--although my great-great grandfather was an Irish famine refugee) in my ancestry and we use the variation of "katty wompus!"

cuaguy said...

Here are my incense thoughts.

1) At the Gospel, the deacon (priest) should not be able to be seen due to the amount of incense.

2) Holy Mother Church gives us the option of having bells for a reason. And that reason is for when there is the right amount of incense and the people can't see.

3) If your lovely Sacristans (Sisters, in my case here at the Basilica of the National Shrine in DC) give you a full boat of incense at the start of Mass, it is rude to return it to them with incense still inside it.

Robert Kumpel said...

At least I learned that you call that chingaderas used for dispensing and burning incense a censer. (My mom would have called it a dumaflache).

pinanv525 said...

It is a thingy-bob.

Templar said...

I'm with cuaguy, and I was raised to call it a Thurible, and for the record Father, when I started to attend at St. Joseph the incense in the Processional immediately brought me "home". It had been decades since I had been to a Parish where incense had been used at all, and that beautiful fragrance reached back to my senses on so many levels. Incense has the ability to aid in our transport to another place, an other worldly place, to help tear that veil between this world and Heaven. This is what Mass is supposed to do.

pinanv525 said...

Cuaquy, Amen and Amen!

Anonymous said...

Ooo! Ooo! I know this one. Catty Wupus (and it's past perfect 'katty wump' cf catercorner, a *real word*!

And you have to bring the boat back empty or the sacristans will be incensed.


Anonymous said...

I for one love the incense; the more the better.
And certainlydon't want the censer going kaddy wompus suring Mass.
Isn't that photo great!?!


qwikness said...

I once went to a Divine Liturgy at Holy Cross. The priest explained that Orthodox censers has symbolic meanings. Three chains coming together is of course the Trinity. Twelve bells on it represent the apostles. One of the bells was silent representing you know who...