Norms for the Use of Incense at the Holy Mass

1. The altar shall be censed at High Mass and Sung Mass (if incense is used). If there is both a low altar and a high altar, the low altar shall be censed first, and then the high altar. Before censing the altar, the incense is blessed by the appropriate prayer.

2. A high altar shall be censed in the following manner:

i. The Celebrant bows to the cross.

ii. Three double swings for the cross.

iii. Bow to the cross.

iv. orking from the cross towards the Epistle side of the altar, the Celebrant makes three single swings, roughly in the direction of each of the three candles.

v. Two swings low by the Epistle side

vi. Returning towards the cross, three low circular swings at the front of the altar.

vii. Bow to the cross.

viii. Repeat steps iv-vi above for the Gospel side.

ix. Bow to the cross.

x. Then the Deacon (or thurifer, if there is no Deacon) censes the Celebrant with three double swings. If the Celebrant is a Bishop, he takes the mitre while he is censed.

3. A low altar shall be censed in the following manner:

i. Standing in the center facing liturgical east, bow to the cross.

ii. Walk around the altar counterclockwise making small circular swings.

iii. Upon returning to the front center of the altar, bow to the cross.

iv. Proceed to the high altar.

4. The high altar alone shall be censed during the Offertory. The incense shall be blessed with the prayer called for in the missal rubrics. First the offerings shall be censed using the pattern given in the rubrics of the Missal.

5. The offerings and altar shall be censed in the following manner at the Offertory:

i. Incense is blessed according to the rubrics.

ii. Bow to the cross.

iii. Cense the offerings according to No. 4 above, using the appropriate prayer.

iv. Bow to the cross.

v. Cense the altar again as at the introit, using the prayers called for in the missal rubrics.

vi. After the Celebrant is censed, the Deacon is censed by the thurifer with two double swings, and the Sub-Deacon is censed with one double swing.

vii. Then the other servers are censed collectively with three single swings.

viii. Clergy in choir are censed collectively with three single swings.

ix. The congregation is then censed with three single swings.

6. At the consecration, the thurifer kneels on the pavement to the right of the ministers. At the elevation of the host and the elevation of the chalice, the thurifer (Sub-Deacon at a Mass for the Dead) censes the sacrament with three double-swings as follows:

i. As the Celebrant genuflects, the first set of three swings.

ii. As the host (chalice) is elevated, the second set of three swings.

iii. As the Celebrate genuflects again, the third set of three swings.

7. As a custom for the Patriarchal See, the Paschal candle, during the time it is by the altar and lit, shall be censed by the Celebrant after the altar is censed (before the Celebrant is censed) with three double swings.


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