Burning of Incense; Scriptural or not?

In Roman Catholic tradition burning of incense is symbolic and this common practice often attracts criticism from non-Catholics. As Catholics it is our duty to explain issues and answer questions concerning our catholic practice. Hence, when we are confronted with questions concerning the use of incense, we should be able to give reasonable and convincing answers which are backed up with Holy Scriptures. In Christianity, burning of incense is not compulsory.
In the Catholic Church, burning incense is an expression of prayer. Incense symbolizes sanctification and it is used for purification. Its aroma symbolizes special offering, something pleasing and acceptable to God Almighty.
Incense was severally used in the scriptures. The areas where it was used are as follows;

  • (Ex.30:1-10) the lord instructed Moses to build a golden alter for the burning of incense.
  • (Ex 30:34-37) Yahweh then told Moses, Take sweet spices, stacte, onycha, galbanum, sweet spices and pure frankincense in equal parts, and compound and incense, such a blend as the perfumer, make salted pure and holy. You will grind some of this up very fine and put it in front of the Testimony in the tent of meeting, where I shall meet you. You will regard it as especially holy. Then in verse 37 He further told Moses not to make any similar composition for his own use.
  • Psalm 141:2 says “let my prayer rise before you like incense oh! Lord”. Hence burning incense is a prayer in action.
  • (Malachi1:11) from the farthest west, my name is honored among the nations and everywhere a sacrifice is offered to my name and a pure offering too, since my name is honored among nations.
  • (Rev.8:3-4) another angel came and stood with the golden censer and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden alter before the throne and the smoke of incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.

Brethren, with these scriptural references, we should be able to offer explanations to those who question the use of incense by the Catholic Church.

Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict is a Catholic who wants nothing but to spread the catholic faith to reach the ends of the world. Make this possible by always sharing any article or prayers posted on your social media platforms. Remain blessed

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  1. Am a theist and am quite comfortable n happy about my belief n position. Science is basically knowledge. Experience cannot be fully fathomed nor explained by any hard science or human scieces. one can neither prove or disprove philosohically the existence of God. That itself cannot rule out the existence of God. This God can never be captured by any formulations of Philosophy or Theology. None of our human formulas or formulations can capture the reality of That Wholy Other or the Divine.
    Now the Divine does not require the Universe nor anything in the Universe For His/ Her existence. God has no gender for that matter. But we have to use anthropomoceric language as we speak of God.
    Anyway I do believe in a personal God Who does not need me for his sake, but I do need him for truly meaningful n fuller life. To express my affection and connectedness to him I do use human gestures and signs and symbols of piety, devotion and respect, althoughGod doesnt require any of these. This is where we use flowers, fruits, other materials and incense. This is part of human complexity and different levels of functioning and experience. Who can dictate terms to people’s expressions and experiences.

  2. Hey Patrick ‘Troll” Gannon. You seem don’t believe in the Bible. This is a biblical defense just to let you know. And Catholicism is based on it. God is omnipresence right? He is present everywhere. He can see and smell everything. Anyways, it seems that you think God is a person who created the Universe, and just left it to be.

    1. Dear Patrick, your mini-article-styled note is purely scientific.God is omniscient which means He ‘knows’ everything.Matters of faith and belief should not be argued against from a scientific point of view otherwise, it leads to atheism

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