I am a catholic convert, and I have attended very few catholic funerals in my life. A friend of mine just attended her first, and is curious about the incense. I really do not know, off the top of my head, and she already has a clouded view of the Catholic faith.
So, what is the meaning of the incense during a funeral mass, over the casket? Is there any significance to this?
Incense is always symbolic of our prayers rising to God. When a body is incensed not only are we praying for the one who once occupied that body, but we are also praying that the soul of this person will “rise to God” as the incense rises.
Incense is also used as a sign of reverence, sanctification, and offering. So incensing the body is a way for the church to show it’s respect for the person who is being sent on their way to the Lord and whose body will rise again on the last day. It’s a sort of final giving over of self to God, assisted by the communion of saints. (In fact, the Litany of Saints used to be sung at this time as part of the final commendation - and STILL SHOULD BE!)
It sounds like your friend would want quotes from the bible as to why Catholics use incense in worship. Although I do not think the Church needs to show everything that we do is in the Bible, simply because our Church did not come from the Bible - the Bible came from our Church, I will offer a few great Bible verses that will make sense for the use of incense at a funeral.
And by the way, I am sorry for your loss and will be praying for you and your family.
Exodus 30:37 - And the incense which you shall make according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves; it shall be for you holy to the LORD.
Exodus 31:11 - and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the holy place. According to all that I have commanded you they shall do."
1 Kings 3:3 - Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father; only, he sacrificed and burnt incense at the high places.
Revelation 8:2-4 2 Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; 4 and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.
And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne. and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the sants from the hand of the angles before God.
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