Thursday, October 18, 2018


Having grown up in the south, I know that Protestant ministers, even the most conservative fundamentalistic ones, are close to their people and spend time with them when they are in need.

Catholic priests have had a reputation in the south of being more aloof, formal and otherly. They come to the hospital, do the ritual for the sacraments and then leave. The perception was that the priest didn't want his personal time bothered by extended visits with those in need.

Pope Francis speaks of people being turned away at the confessional if they show signs of not being repentant. If I recall correctly, His Holiness once said that if a priest can't offer absolution to an "unrepentant" sinner, he should offer a prayer and blessing. That is sound advice.

I think a priest dressed in the finery of the Church can be engaged in the lives of his people just as one in blue jeans and a t-shirt.

How many priests and congregations automatically exclude gay people from Mass? How many are turned away from receiving Holy Communion?  The only ones I know of being excluded from Mass are ones where the Church has actually taken a warrant out against a disruptive Catholics for various reasons and are prevented by law enforcement from attending a particular parish.

So I have to ask the laity here and any priests who read this blog, just how engaged are priests with their congregation or do they come across as arrogant, holier than thou and more interested in the ceremonial aspects of the Church and the fine details of the liturgy?????

Let me give an example. I have a newly ordained parochial vicar. Last night we have a wonderful annual celebration of the Recitation of the Holy Rosary with Exposition and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The English version of the new GIRM has brought confusion to how many swings of the thruible during the incensations  various objects/ persons or relics receive in the liturgy.

My custom is to offer three twos to the priest/celebrant and three threes for the Blessed Sacrament and the Paschal Candle during Eastertide.

My PV disagrees. It is three twos for the Blessed Sacrament and I can't remember for celebrants and laity.

What is your thought on this profound cause of concern to the laity?


Marc said...

From memory:

During mass, the celebrating priest gets three singular swings. Priests in choir and other ministers get one singular swing individually. Servers get one singular swing for each grouping. The gathered laity collectively get one singular swing in each direction (left, right, center).

The incensation at the elevations during mass is three swings at each elevation (so twice). The same is true of incensation during exposition: three swings at each point incense is offered.

Marc said...

I believe the Paschal Candle is incensed with a singular swing during the high masses of Eastertide.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc are you referring to the ef or of Mass??????

Marc said...

Sorry, I should've made that clear. What I'm talking about is the 1962 Missa Cantata and Benediction. I have no knowledge of the situation in the Novus Ordo.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc when you say single swings, that confuses me even further, in the EF or OF.

My practice for the OF Mass, which I think is based on the EF is that the Blessed Sacrament gets three sets of threes be it during the elevation or when incensing the Blessed Sacrament at Benediction. And the same for the Paschal candle at Paschaltide.

You seem to suggest that it is one swing three times or three sets of one swing????

John Nolan said...

The priest's role is primarily cultic. The 'pastoral care' aspect is the responsibility of the whole Christian community.

These days things have been turned on their head. Lay people are encouraged to be ministers of the cult and priests are turned into social workers.

Marc said...

My memory and sight aren't great. So here's something more official.

From The Book of Ceremonies (1943):

The movement of the thurible from the breast to the face and back to the height of the breast is called the ductus or swing. The outward movement of the thurible toward the person incensed is called the ictus or throw. For each swing there may be either a single or double throw. The former is known as a "single swing," the latter as a "double swing."

In the double swing the outward throw is repeated, and then the thurible is permitted to swing downward again to the height of the breast; in the single swing the thurible is permitted to fall to the breast after the first outward throw. In giving a single swing it is better that the motion of the thurible upward toward the face and outward toward the person incensed be a single movement.

The double swing is always used when persons are incensed individually; the single swing, when they are incensed as a group.

Summary of Various Incensings:

Three Double Swings:
1. Blessed Sacrament (at all times)
2. The celebrant -- when the Ordinary is not present and the Blessed Sacrament is not exposed
3. The Ordinary of the diocese
4. The cross
5. The Book of Gospels

Two Double Swings:
1. The celebrant -- when the Ordinary is present or the Blessed Sacrament is exposed
2. Lesser prelates
3. Deacon of the Mass
4. Subdeacon of the Mass

One Double Swing:
1. The choir (when each person is incensed individually, e.g., the clegy in the sanctuary)
2. The master of ceremonies
3. The acolytes (one double swing each)

Three Single Swings:
1. The choir (when a number are incensed together)
2. The torchbearers at Mass
3. The lay congregation
4. At the blessing of candles, ashes, and palms

One Single Swing:
At the incensation of the altar

Henry said...

"So I have to ask the laity here and any priests who read this blog, just how engaged are priests with their congregation or do they come across as arrogant, holier than thou and more interested in the ceremonial aspects of the Church and the fine details of the liturgy?????"

This question seems to have it all backwards. In my experience--six decades as an adult Catholic in too many parishes to count, in numerous dioceses in several states ranging from the NY area to the upper midwest to the deep south--almost all the arrogant clericalist priests I've encountered have shown their contempt for their parishioners in the form of liturgical abuse, with little concern with proper ceremony and liturgical detail.

TJM said...


You nailed it!!!