HomeIncense and MyrrhMonastic Incense


Incense is the aromatic gum-resin collected from the bark of Boswellia (Burseraceae), small trees indigenous to Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Oman, and Yemen. It is obtained by incision from the bark of the tree from where is extracted, is left to dry on the tree and then is scraped, cleaned from impurities and left to dry completely. The dry resin is mixed with other ingredients (aromatic substances and magnesia), and ends up in the final form we see and use today for censing.
Incense has deep roots in human history that extend back to ancient times. It was used in religious rituals throughout the ancient world accompanying prayers or sacrifices. Naturally, it was also used by the Hebrew people, reaching its way to the early Christian years. Christianity, giving symbolic importance, incorporated incense as an element in the worship during services at Church. Incense symbolizes prayer ascending to the throne of God. Let my prayer be set forth as incense before Thee. Incense was also one of the gifts that the three Wise Men offered to the newborn Christ, when they visited Him after His birth.
There is no specific rule. It would be good to burn incense at home at least once a day.
At home we can burn incense with our well-known censers, which are either made of clay or metal. We place a small charcoal or a teaspoon of charcoal powder in the censer, light it up and then place the incense on top, after which it begins to emit its beautiful fragrance.
Incense should be stored in a dark, cool place, away from direct sunlight and heat. High temperature can alter the aroma. You must also always close the package tightly after each use in order to prevent evaporation and deterioration of the fragrance. Avoid storing incense in places with high humidity, as humidity can affect its quality.
Like everything in the church that is related to either participation in a sacred service or prayer, the product of burning incense should not be disposed into the common garbage. We can discard it in the outdoors by burying it in a forest, field, garden, pot or flower bed, after making sure that the charcoal with which we burned the incense is completely extinguished. Another alternative is to find a spot that has a sea or running water (e.g., a river) and scatter the ashes there. A last resort is to collect the remains in a separate container and occasionally to take them to our local parish.

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