During our Church Services the Priest censes the Holy Objects and the people with incense (in Greek, “Livani”). Why is this?
We are reminded of the incense (frankincense) which the three Wise Men brought as gifts to the Christ Child. We are reminded of the sweet-smelling Myrrh which was prepared to anoint Jesus Christ at His burial. The smoke of the incense reminds us that our prayers rise toward God like that sweet fragrance of the incense.
What is incense?
Incense is the hardened sap of certain trees. In order to make it burn, it must be placed in a vessel with burning charcoal. The vessel we use is called a censer (in Greek, “Thymiaterion”)
What is the censer?
The censer is a covered dish suspended on four chains. It is used to convey the fragrant smoke of the incense to holy objects. It’s parts represent all of God’s creation.
What does it represent?
- The ring (symbol of eternity) represents GOD.
- The top represents ‘Alpha’ (A) the beginning.
- The four chains represent the Four Evangelists.
- The twelve bells represent the Twelve Apostles, and their teaching.
- The Cross reminds us of the cross of our Lord.
- The top of the bowl represents the Heavens.
- The firepot (where the incense and charcoal go) is the earth, and the charcoal is man who requires the fire of the Holy Spirit to give him light and life. We blow on the charcoal to set it afire just as God put life in man by breathing on him.
- The bottom of the cup is the universe of which the earth is a part.
- The base of the censer is the ‘Omega’ (Ω), the end.