The Armchair Liturgist: Servers Incensing the People

armchair1.jpgMy new parish doesn’t have to consider this possibility; we don’t have kids or adults, really, serving consistently as servers or acolytes. But the question came to Zenit’s liturgy guru as such:

I know of a priest who has the altar servers incense the congregation after he has incensed the altar at the offertory. There is one family who objects to this and states that it should be a priest or deacon that incenses the congregation. Can you provide documentation on the correct procedure?

Do you want to take a stab at a unilateral decision from the purple chair? Kids incensing the assembly: crazy modernism or within the bounds of the Roman Rite? Check the link for the answer, but let people take their shot before spilling the beans, please.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Servers Incensing the People

  1. Randolph Nichols says:

    I have no rubrics before me, but I know that at my parish’s choir mass after the celebrant incenses the altar, the servers are always the ones who incense the assisting clergy, the choir, the congregation, and finally – if I remember correctly – the lectors. This has been the practice for at least 45 years.

    Long ago while still a high church Episcopalian and an altar server, I always did the incensing of the congregation. Since this is obviously not something novel, I’ll guess it is rubrically a responsibility of altar servers to incense the congregation.

    If it isn’t, I’ll be depressed for weeks.

  2. Copernicus says:

    Not just within the bounds, but legislated for. Here’s GIRM 75:

    “75. The bread and wine are placed on the altar by the priest to the accompaniment of the prescribed formulas. The priest may incense the gifts placed upon the altar and then incense the cross and the altar itself, so as to signify the Church’s offering and prayer rising like incense in the sight of God. Next, the priest, because of his sacred ministry, and the people, by reason of their baptismal dignity, may be incensed by the deacon or another minister.”

    “Another minister” here means an altar server. I guess it’s not even clear from the GIRM excerpt, whether a deacon, if present, should take precedence. So, not just legislated for, but normative?

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