Holy Smoke! VID 10
Biblical Prayer: Fragrance + Sacrifice
(With directions below)
Learning as a young priest about Native American smudging changed my use and understanding of incense forever. Natural elements (such as cedar, juniper, tobacco, and sweet grass), when used as a prayer, have the power to purify the environment of negative spirits. Is that not what we believe of incense?
Many years later, research showed how frankincense and myrrh are anti-microbial and kill certain germs. From that day forward, on the Feast of the Epiphany, I only blessed and distributed precious, amber natural frankincense, with a few black myrrh flakes also adding some gilded juniper berries (old-school secret), to accompany the soft chalk home blessing was an ol’ nun’s secret.
Annually, during the Christmas season (traditionally, Jan thru Feb 2), I have burned these anti-microbial resins, saving their essential oils for my bedroom dispenser. Feeling a cold coming on, I also rub my beard and hair with frankincense oil and go to sleep in a hoodie. In the morning, all symptoms disappear.
Bells, incense, singing (in a future clip), and holy water, especially in the spiritual sense are not merely global prayer actions, they are both healthy and holy. Their proper use motivates me all-the-more to worship the Almighty Creator not only on my knees, but also wholeheartedly and holistically through all five senses.
Yes, some people have severe respiratory reactions to incense, and churches need to be publicly set aside for non-allergenic, non-irritating prayer (including fresh flowers), but not all churches. God’s abundant gifts are given for our good. That is the original meaning of the word salvation. “Salus,” the root word, means health of soul and body, expressed in ancient Catholic prayers as heath/salvation of “mind and body.”
The sense of smell, therefore, may be employed in family prayer. Frankincense may be too costly or not available. If you are not of Indigenous heritage, one ought not play without permission, with what a deeply spiritual people consider holy. I shall never forget my first Guadalupe pilgrimage to Mexico. Here, as in nowhere else in the world, I experienced a fully enfleshed (incarnated) liturgy.
A proud, yet totally reverent liturgical minister in indigenous garb led a procession of hundreds of priests, dozens of bishops, and a few cardinals carrying a brazier of smoking herbs. Repeated again while walking the Gospel Book for proclamation, this holy, most memorable, and emotional worship moment was only to be equaled by the hundreds of roses distributed among the concelebrants. Add to this a hundred plus, pilgrim’s musical ensemble
s singing and dancing for Our
Lady’s birthday. On a plaza larger than
two football fields, two-million of her children celebrated this vibrant, sweet
“allegrias” (festival sweets) weekend, faith festival of fire, flower, and feathered
This three-day procession of millions of runners, bikers, and walkers from across the country, far surpassed any worship I ever experienced, even the wonder of Pasadena’s Rose Bowl parade and game. It was all for the Mestiza, the Lady, Rose of Tepayac, whom St John Paul named, the Patroness of the Evangelization of North and South America.
DIRECTIONS: Set aside an old metal pie plate (not aluminum which may burn) for domestic church “holy smoking.” Store it in the Heaven Door toll box. Incensing is the sole responsibility of at least one informed adult. It is not kids play. A good 15min before your meal or prayer time, place selected pie plate on any type of kitchen burner. Keep a similar sized (9 inch) pot cover at hands-reach. Turn on medium “M”. Drop orange zest/peel or blessed frankincense onto the metal pie plate. It will take a few minutes to warm up (particularly moist orange). Slowly roast/burn this home incense. Quietly say this or similar prayer similar prayer, “My prayers rise like incense, my hands like the evening offering.” .If after 5-8 minutes, slightly turn up the heat up one notch, just below Medium Low. After emitting its sweet fragrance, frankincense turns completely black. At this point cover entire pie plate with pot lid and leave until cools. This prevents eye-irritating soot from rising. Do the same if a flame appears. Incense needs to smoke, not flame. Flame consumes sweet smelling fragrance, turning it to bothersome soot. For a natural, light scent orange peels may be slow roasted, even in the oven. Let the scent spread from the kitchen throughout your home.
Next Saturday: “Singing is praying 2x”
All video content of St Casimir’s Series on the Domestic Church and Tandem Blog Articles © CzMKrysa, Buffalo, NY April-July 2020