Fragrance Quote for November 22th, 2012-The Open Court, Volume 22

 Incense burner (botafumeiro) in motion, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.aption


After singing the Hymn of the day the choir chants the Magnificat or Canticle of the Blessed Virgin during which the priest goes to the center of the altar and, assisted by an attendant, puts on the cope, a flowing garment of yellow reaching nearly to the ground. Blessing the incense and filling the censer which is now brought to him, he slowly mounts the steps and incenses the altar. After the Antiphon of the Blessed Virgin is said, following the incensing of the altar, the priest goes up to the tabernacle, kneels and takes out a small gold locket which he places in the center of the monstrance, a large circular vessel of gold in the form of an upright sun. Descending to the foot of the altar, he again fills the censer and incenses the Host which is now contained within the monstrance. When the choir has finished the Hymn the priest chants briefly. He then kneels, and a white veil or robe embroidered with gold and long enough to cover his hands is spread across his shoulders by an attendant. Ascending to the altar he kneels and then rising spends a few moments in adjusting the veil in such a way as to permit him to grasp the shaft of the monstrance firmly. Presently he turns wrapt in the mantle with the vessel raised and clasped in both hands and faces the people. As he raises it upward, following it devoutly with his eyes, every head is bowed and save for the measured clank of the swinging censer the silence is absolute. After a moment we steal a look at him from between our parted fingers and over the bowed heads of the congregation—a shaft of crimson light strikes diagonally across his white robe like an arrow of blood from the western window. His figure arrayed in the flowing costume of white and gold seems mystical and unreal. His face, lifted to the elevated Host is tense and transfigured by the extraordinary solemnity of the moment. The sweet pungent fumes of burning incense recalling old and sacred associations, float across to us from the sanctuary enclosure. An altar bell strikes a soft, musical chime and almost simultaneously the great cathedral bell booms in reply. Three times interrupted by regular intervals, the chime on the altar is struck and three times the heavy boom from the distant belfry supplies the echo. Then the priest turns and replaces the monstrance upon the altar, heads are raised, the Host is replaced in the tabernacle, the priest divested of his benediction robes puts on his hat and follows the attendants from the sanctuary, the people rise and stream out of the pews into the aisles, the choir bursts forth into jubilant song and the service is ended.