In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I have a quick liturgical question as I prepare for a special Mass, at which the Bishop will preside in our church. I have 2 altar servers, one of whom will bear the processional cross and one of whom I hope to ask to be the thurifer.  To that end:

  • Where do I put the thurifer (in the liturgical procession)?
  • Can the thurifer simply process with the incense and then exit the church (to clear the smoke), or will the bishop have to incense the altar?

Many thanks!!


A: The thurifer leads the procession, walking ahead of the cross.

The thurifer should wait in the sanctuary for the bishop, who then incenses the altar and the cross. Then the thurifer may exit the church to clear the smoke.

The point of carrying incense in that procession is to incense the sacred objects, not merely to accent the procession. Incense is not necessary for this occasion, but this is the kind of celebration where it fits very well.