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Author Topic: The Use of a Hand Censer  (Read 5481 times) Average Rating: 0
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sohma_hatori
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« on: August 11, 2009, 09:08:19 AM »

Dear friends,

How is one to properly use a hand censer (the one's we use in our Icon corners at home). When or what part of our evening prayers do we use incense, and what are the things that we should and shouldn't cense? Are there certain prayers said while we are preparing the censer, and are their also prayers chanted or recited while censing? Also, is the hymn, "Katevthinthito" a priest-only hymn?

Humbly.
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2009, 01:37:53 PM »

I'm not sure I do things properly during my prayers at home, so take this with a grain of salt.  Hopefully, I'm doing things right and you'll be able to draw some answers from what I and many others on this thread do.

Dear friends,

How is one to properly use a hand censer (the one's we use in our Icon corners at home). When or what part of our evening prayers do we use incense,
I usually follow the example of the clergy on this.  Based on what I've seen done in my parish practice, I will burn a piece of incense at the start of Vespers and another during the Psalms at "Lord, I Have Cried...".

and what are the things that we should and shouldn't cense?
I cense my icons and my Bible, if my Bible is on my home reader's stand as I'm praying.

Are there certain prayers said while we are preparing the censer, and are their also prayers chanted or recited while censing?
While preparing the censer, I cannot say.  However, when I'm censing, one of my housemates is reading the Psalms, so I just focus on what he's reading as I cense.  I don't add my own inaudible prayers.

Also, is the hymn, "Katevthinthito" a priest-only hymn?
Can you give us an English translation of that title so we know what hymn you're talking about?  That would be very helpful to this discussion if you could.
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2009, 01:45:24 PM »

I usually just light a piece of charcoal and put a few pieces of incese on it right before I begin my prayers and let it burn as I am praying. I don't know if that's the "right" thing to do, but that's what I do. The censor I have gets too hot to handle, so I just let it sit on the dresser in my icon corner as I pray.
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2009, 01:53:24 PM »

Also, is the hymn, "Katevthinthito" a priest-only hymn?

No. It is merely a portion of Psalm 141. The choir/people chant that particular portion of the Psalm in every Vespers.

Perhaps you think it is priest-only because you heard the priest chanting a solemn-sounding version of it after the Old Testament readings during the Vesperal Pre-Sanctified Liturgies in Great Lent. Even then, the chanter responds antiphonally.

Anyway, it's just a Psalm.
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2009, 01:59:28 PM »

Also, is the hymn, "Katevthinthito" a priest-only hymn?

No. It is merely a portion of Psalm 141. The choir/people chant that particular portion of the Psalm in every Vespers.

Perhaps you think it is priest-only because you heard the priest chanting a solemn-sounding version of it after the Old Testament readings during the Vesperal Pre-Sanctified Liturgies in Great Lent. Even then, the chanter responds antiphonally.

Anyway, it's just a Psalm.

Okay.  I think this just gave me the English translation for which I sought.  "Katevthinthito" translates to English as "Let my prayer arise in Your sight as incense."  Correct?
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2009, 02:02:09 PM »

After prayers, I take the censer and walk through the house, censing the icons in each of the children's rooms as well as other icons we have in the house.  I also cense the doors of the house as I pass by, asking blessing on all who have passed or will pass through them.  Otherwise, I do what the others here have said, just let it stand on the shelf before the icons as we pray.

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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2009, 02:03:49 PM »

Okay.  I think this just gave me the English translation for which I sought.  "Katevthinthito" translates to English as "Let my prayer arise in Your sight as incense."  Correct?

It's just the first word of that verse in Greek, an imperative, meaning "Let it arise".
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2009, 02:10:54 PM »

I must admit to seldom censing in our home. But on those rare occasions that I do, I generally walk through the house and cense every room, every icon, my wife and then in particular our icon corner. Then I let the censor stand on the fireplace hearth since it tends to become hot and fill the living room with incense. As for prayers, these are said later.
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2009, 06:00:47 PM »

I kind of doubt that there is a propriety laid out for the use of incense in private prayers.
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2009, 03:26:46 AM »

Also, is the hymn, "Katevthinthito" a priest-only hymn?

No. It is merely a portion of Psalm 141. The choir/people chant that particular portion of the Psalm in every Vespers.

Perhaps you think it is priest-only because you heard the priest chanting a solemn-sounding version of it after the Old Testament readings during the Vesperal Pre-Sanctified Liturgies in Great Lent. Even then, the chanter responds antiphonally.

Anyway, it's just a Psalm.


I've never been to Vesper's or Pre-sanctified Liturgy. I just heard it sung on a service I was watching on the net.
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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2009, 03:33:10 AM »

I'm not sure I do things properly during my prayers at home, so take this with a grain of salt.  Hopefully, I'm doing things right and you'll be able to draw some answers from what I and many others on this thread do.

Dear friends,

How is one to properly use a hand censer (the one's we use in our Icon corners at home). When or what part of our evening prayers do we use incense,
I usually follow the example of the clergy on this.  Based on what I've seen done in my parish practice, I will burn a piece of incense at the start of Vespers and another during the Psalms at "Lord, I Have Cried...".

and what are the things that we should and shouldn't cense?
I cense my icons and my Bible, if my Bible is on my home reader's stand as I'm praying.

Are there certain prayers said while we are preparing the censer, and are their also prayers chanted or recited while censing?
While preparing the censer, I cannot say.  However, when I'm censing, one of my housemates is reading the Psalms, so I just focus on what he's reading as I cense.  I don't add my own inaudible prayers.

Also, is the hymn, "Katevthinthito" a priest-only hymn?
Can you give us an English translation of that title so we know what hymn you're talking about?  That would be very helpful to this discussion if you could.

Thanks! How long does a block of charcoal usually last? Since we don't swing a hand censer, how do we cense things around?
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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2009, 03:46:04 AM »

Thanks! How long does a block of charcoal usually last? Since we don't swing a hand censer, how do we cense things around?

Censing with a hand censer is done by tracing out the shape of a cross.
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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2009, 03:48:54 AM »

Are laity allowed to swing a hand censor in our private prayers at home, or simply to cense our house? If so, where can I find a hand censer? What about using a hand censer or simply burning incense outside of the abortion clinic I occasionally minister at?

By the way, what kind of incense do most EO use? In our Ethiopian Orthodox Church we use real Frankincense. I have a lot of it that has been blessed by my Priest. I also burn it on charcoal like most of you.

Thanks.

Selam
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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2009, 03:58:15 AM »

Thanks! How long does a block of charcoal usually last? Since we don't swing a hand censer, how do we cense things around?

Censing with a hand censer is done by tracing out the shape of a cross.

Left to Right or other way around?
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« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2009, 04:01:48 AM »

Thanks! How long does a block of charcoal usually last? Since we don't swing a hand censer, how do we cense things around?

Censing with a hand censer is done by tracing out the shape of a cross.

Left to Right or other way around?

When facing the object or person being censed, up, down, then your left, then your right, the same way a priest crosses you when he gives you a blessing. The mirror image of how you would cross yourself.
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« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2009, 06:20:35 AM »

Are laity allowed to swing a hand censor in our private prayers at home, or simply to cense our house? If so, where can I find a hand censer? What about using a hand censer or simply burning incense outside of the abortion clinic I occasionally minister at?

By the way, what kind of incense do most EO use? In our Ethiopian Orthodox Church we use real Frankincense. I have a lot of it that has been blessed by my Priest. I also burn it on charcoal like most of you.

Thanks.

Selam

Dear brother, peace and grace be with your spirit,


I suggest checking with your priest, as I am not sure whether this EO/RC practice is followed by many OO in their homes. I know in the Coptic Church it is a no no and only priests raise incence, even in private homes during the blessing of homes. So I suggest before doing so you ask your father of confession. The same would go for all OO, ask first.

Pray for me.

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« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2009, 06:22:24 AM »

Are laity allowed to swing a hand censor in our private prayers at home, or simply to cense our house? If so, where can I find a hand censer? What about using a hand censer or simply burning incense outside of the abortion clinic I occasionally minister at?

By the way, what kind of incense do most EO use? In our Ethiopian Orthodox Church we use real Frankincense. I have a lot of it that has been blessed by my Priest. I also burn it on charcoal like most of you.

Thanks.

Selam

Dear brother, peace and grace be with your spirit,


I suggest checking with your priest, as I am not sure whether this EO/RC practice is followed by many OO in their homes. I know in the Coptic Church it is a no no and only priests raise incence, even in private homes during the blessing of homes. So I suggest before doing so you ask your father of confession. The same would go for all OO, ask first.

Pray for me.

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Thank you very much. I will ask my Priest.

Peace to you.

Selam
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« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2009, 01:23:15 PM »

I suggest checking with your priest, as I am not sure whether this EO/RC practice is followed by many OO in their homes.

Just as an aside: I don't think it is all that common in EO practice either. Haven't personally seen any homes in native Orthodox lands that do so. My hunch is that this is a recent importation of monastic practices -- made possible by the mass production of ecclesiastical items. I've been to several hermitages and convents, none of which had a priest, so the hermit or abbess would cense the Holy Icons with a hand censer (not the full, hanging one) at the appointed times during Orthros, Vespers, etc, in the manner that LBK described.

I know in the Coptic Church it is a no no and only priests raise incence, even in private homes during the blessing of homes.

Certainly, when the priest comes to bless the home, he would be the one to cense. Although, in our tradition, his hands are busy sprinkling the holy water, so no censing occurs.
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« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2009, 02:50:35 PM »

I know that many of my Greek Orthodox friends use the hand censer or at least have one by their icon corners at home. I've seen them use it too during family prayers.

I usually light one piece of incense and cense in the shape of the cross the icons once or three times and then I cense the icons again during the reading of Tin Timioteran (More Honourable than the Cherubim) just as the icons in church are censed at this time during Orthros/matins.

Alternately, I just light a piece of incense at the beginning of prayer and let it burn out.

a Coptic priest once told me that only the elderly women light incense...interesting.

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« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2009, 06:47:14 PM »

My grandmother put some dried herbs in the metal bowl  and she is censing icons with it while she is praying.
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« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2009, 02:11:55 AM »

I suggest checking with your priest, as I am not sure whether this EO/RC practice is followed by many OO in their homes.

Just as an aside: I don't think it is all that common in EO practice either. Haven't personally seen any homes in native Orthodox lands that do so. My hunch is that this is a recent importation of monastic practices -- made possible by the mass production of ecclesiastical items. I've been to several hermitages and convents, none of which had a priest, so the hermit or abbess would cense the Holy Icons with a hand censer (not the full, hanging one) at the appointed times during Orthros, Vespers, etc, in the manner that LBK described.

I know in the Coptic Church it is a no no and only priests raise incence, even in private homes during the blessing of homes.

Certainly, when the priest comes to bless the home, he would be the one to cense. Although, in our tradition, his hands are busy sprinkling the holy water, so no censing occurs.

Which is the same of course with us as the majority of blessings of houses are with the shortened version using water, however, there is (isnt there always) a more formal service which is quite a bit longer, involves the house fasting and raising of incense.  Whilst less frequent it certainly is utilized, especially with new homes, changing rental homes etc.

Peace and grace.


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« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2009, 02:37:57 AM »

This is interesting.  The custom among Armenians is to burn incense in the home, as well as at the graves of loved ones.  Incense and charcoal are almost always to be found in local Armenian grocery stores.  It never occurred to me that other OO's didn't do this. 
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« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2009, 02:38:59 AM »

Interesting. Both of my grandmothers had a hand censer in their icon corner, but I never saw them in use other than once by my father's mother at the cemetery on Papou's nameday.
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« Reply #23 on: August 13, 2009, 04:58:25 AM »

How long does a block of charcoal usually last?
That depends.  I usually use round blocks of charcoal large enough (about 1 1/2" diameter) to cut into quarters so they last longer.  I only burn one quarter at a time.
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« Reply #24 on: August 13, 2009, 08:46:10 AM »

Which is the same of course with us as the majority of blessings of houses are with the shortened version using water, however, there is (isnt there always) a more formal service which is quite a bit longer, involves the house fasting and raising of incense.  Whilst less frequent it certainly is utilized, especially with new homes, changing rental homes etc.

Ah, yes. The Russians also have a special service, which is used when a house is blessed for the first time (right after purchase or moving in). Doesn't appear in all liturgical books, and I'm not even sure of its provenance. It's quite unlike the standard Byzantine practice, which is the Lesser Blessing of Water. In this Russian tradition, there are unique prayers, everything is sprinkled with holy water, then the outer walls are anointed with the sign of the cross with holy oil, then everything is censed, then there is a Gospel reading. It's kind of like a mini version of the consecration (thyranoixia) of a church.
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« Reply #25 on: August 13, 2009, 09:37:15 AM »


Ukrainians do this too.

When my sister and her family moved in to a new house, once it was furnished and ready to go, the priest came over and blessed it.

The whole family marched around behind him.  He censed the house and each room, the whole time singing prayers.  Each room has an icon in it (another Ukrainian tradition) except of course the bathrooms, etc.  Then he took out a toothpick and marked the walls with holy oil.

It's really a very nice tradition.

The toothpick which was used (and still has some oil on it) lies next to one of the icons. 

As for the hand censer, we also use it on occasion at home. 

We also burn incense at our grave sites.  My uncle who while living served in the Altar, loved the smell of incense and he always burned it at my grandfather's grave.  Now, that he has passed away, I have taken up the tradition (which my nephews are eagerly taking over), to burn the incense at my grandfather's, and now uncle's grave. 

Of course I don't use a hand censer, as it would be too hot to take home, and would get stolen if left behind.  Instead, I use a clean tin can with some holes punched in it.  I light the charcoal, drop it in to the can and then sprinkle the incense over it.  We place it on the granite and then just add incense as needed. 

As we leave it's nice to look back and see the white puffy smoke rising from the grave site.





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« Reply #26 on: August 13, 2009, 12:58:19 PM »

Are laity allowed to swing a hand censor in our private prayers at home, or simply to cense our house? If so, where can I find a hand censer? What about using a hand censer or simply burning incense outside of the abortion clinic I occasionally minister at?

I know quite a few EO who do use incense in their home including myself. Lay people can use hand censers at home but cannot use a swinging censer like the one at church since only the priest and deacon can cense with that.

Quote
By the way, what kind of incense do most EO use? In our Ethiopian Orthodox Church we use real Frankincense. I have a lot of it that has been blessed by my Priest. I also burn it on charcoal like most of you.

Thanks.

Selam

The incense that is used is made from frankincense smashed up into powder and mixed with scented oils and then rolled. I've made incense before but it's better to just buy it. I buy incense from Holy Transfiguration Monastery and Holy Cross Hermitage. They also sell frankincense too since some people like to just burn that and we use it sometimes in church as well. I think frankincense is better to use around people who have allergies to incense; that would make sense but I'm not sure about it.
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« Reply #27 on: August 13, 2009, 11:42:00 PM »

Are laity allowed to swing a hand censor in our private prayers at home, or simply to cense our house? If so, where can I find a hand censer? What about using a hand censer or simply burning incense outside of the abortion clinic I occasionally minister at?

I know quite a few EO who do use incense in their home including myself. Lay people can use hand censers at home but cannot use a swinging censer like the one at church since only the priest and deacon can cense with that.

Quote
By the way, what kind of incense do most EO use? In our Ethiopian Orthodox Church we use real Frankincense. I have a lot of it that has been blessed by my Priest. I also burn it on charcoal like most of you.

Thanks.

Selam

The incense that is used is made from frankincense smashed up into powder and mixed with scented oils and then rolled. I've made incense before but it's better to just buy it. I buy incense from Holy Transfiguration Monastery and Holy Cross Hermitage. They also sell frankincense too since some people like to just burn that and we use it sometimes in church as well. I think frankincense is better to use around people who have allergies to incense; that would make sense but I'm not sure about it.

Thank you.

I have always loved incense. I wonder how much my love for incense played a subconscious role in my becoming Orthodox? Wink

Selam
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« Reply #28 on: August 13, 2009, 11:43:38 PM »

My grandmother put some dried herbs in the metal bowl  and she is censing icons with it while she is praying.

THANK GOD FOR THE PRAYERS OF GRANDMOTHERS!!! Smiley

Selam
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Faith: converting to orthodoxy, seems to be on hold
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« Reply #29 on: August 14, 2009, 08:26:56 AM »

My grandmother put some dried herbs in the metal bowl  and she is censing icons with it while she is praying.

What type of herbs did she use?  The reason I'm asking is I have problems with incense, scented candles, perfumes, etc, (causes headaches, eyes water, feel like my eyes and throat will will close up, light headedness.)  I don't react that way to wood fires, charcoal when grilling, cigar, pipe or cigarette smoke. Doc thinks it's the oils- went to him about it after starting to attend DL-have to go out the back several times during the service due to that- arrgghhhh!!!  Is the charcoal you burn the same as that used for outdoor grilling?
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Michał Kalina
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« Reply #30 on: August 14, 2009, 09:43:44 AM »

I'll have to ask her about what kinds of the herb she uses, but I don't think they are some special. Just the dried flowers which were blessed on Dormition or on Nativity of St. John the Baptist.
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Tags: icon corner prayer incense 
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