Frankincense, also known as olibanum, is a resin derived from the Boswellia tree and has been used in religious ceremonies for thousands of years. In the Catholic Mass, frankincense is used for a variety of reasons, some of which include:
Frankincense is mentioned in the Bible several times, most notably as one of the gifts offered by the Magi to the baby Jesus. Its use in the Mass symbolizes the divinity of Christ and the Church's connection to the biblical tradition.
The aroma of frankincense, when burned as incense, creates a calming and meditative atmosphere. This scent can help worshippers focus on prayer and reflection during the Mass.
The use of incense, such as frankincense, is believed to sanctify the space and the objects used in the Mass, including the altar, the Gospel book, and the consecrated bread and wine. The rising smoke is also seen as a symbol of prayers ascending to heaven.
Connection to ancient traditions:
The use of incense in religious ceremonies predates Christianity, and its incorporation into the Catholic Mass connects the Church to ancient religious traditions. Frankincense, in particular, was highly valued in ancient civilizations like Egypt, Greece, and Rome for its medicinal, aromatic, and spiritual properties
The use of frankincense in the Mass engages the senses, creating a multisensory worship experience. This can help worshippers feel more connected to the spiritual aspects of the Mass.
The Significance of Frankincense in the Catholic Mass
Overall, the use of frankincense in the Catholic Mass serves multiple purposes, including symbolism, aromatherapy, sanctification, connection to ancient traditions, and enhancing the sensory experience for worshippers.