Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Love the Smell of Cantica in the Morning

Or any other time of day, for that matter.  I saw a post on Father Z's blog about incense and an interesting discussion arose about the proper way to swing the thurible and keep the coals stoked.

I am a bit of a snob when it comes to incense.  My beloved Father Jim used to fill the censer with some blue crystaloid stuff that looked and smelled like Vicks Vapor Rub.  He really liked to pour it on thick.  I shouldn't laugh about this, but I can't help it.  There were a few occasions when he caused the smoke detectors to go off.  He would chastise us to "keep going" and then he'd scurry into the sacristy to try to figure out how to switch the alarms off.  I bought him some Svir incense from Holy Cross Monastery  that I had  lying around the house. (Who has incense lying around the house?  I do, always!)  He thanked me and started using it and that was the end of the smoke detectors going off.

The very first time I ever visited the Carmelite Monastery, they were burning Cantica incense from St. Joseph's Monastery in Massachusetts.  It took some doing for me to find out what the name of the stuff was.  Then I discovered that my pastor also preferred using Cantica because it's what they had used in the seminary.  I contacted St. Joseph's to try to order some and I was bluntly informed that they stopped making it, they didn't have any to sell me, thank you very much goodbye!

To my great delight, Monastery Greetings started selling Cantica and Laudate not too long ago. I find it difficult to believe that the monks suddenly decided to start making it again and I wonder if they didn't work out an agreement with Monastery Greetings to have the company make it and sell it for them.  Whatever the case may be, I not only love the scent but it's one of the few kinds of incense that doesn't provoke laryngospasm in half the congregation!  My present pastor doesn't love it the way that I do, but he still uses it along with some other very fine incense from a nearby orthodox religious gift shop.

I am rarely in this house by myself anymore, but when I am, I don't want to watch so-called "chick" movies or have "the girls" over for coffee or anything like that.  Nope, my idea of an evening to myself is to fire up the censer and listen to chant or pray.  I tried using the censer a few times when Mr. Little Way was around, but that doesn't go over very well with him.   The kids could always tell too, when I  "lit one up".  One of their friends remarked one day that our house smelled like church. I feigned shock, saying "I don't know what you're talking about."

All joking aside, the use of quality incense at Mass is a beautiful way to remind us that we are in God's Holy Presence.  Like the organ and the schola, it is an essential part of our worship that is too often cast aside.

1 comment:

  1. Good incense is a precious thing. I can't stand the brands that burn up almost immediately. During Advent the seminary uses this wonderful kind that can make smoke for a straight hour with a few spoonfuls, though we often get so much smoke made during evening Adoration, that when you walk into the chapel the next morning the air still looks hazy. Not that I complain though, it makes the place smell amazing.


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