Parts of censer
The censer (called thurible in Western rite) is a covered dish suspended on four chains. It is used to convey the fragrant smoke of the incense to holy objects.
It has a lower half and upper half, four chains and 12 bells.
The lower cup of the censer represents the earth and the upper cup the heaven.
The coal in it represents the sinners.
The chains represent the Holy Trinity.
The first chain stands for God the Father.
The second and third chains represent the human and Godly nature of the son.
The fourth chain represents the Holy Spirit. The
12 bells represent the 12 Apostles of Christ. The four chains have a total of 72 links to represent the 72 evangelists of the Old
Testament who prepared men to be worthy of the new covenant with God.
The fire signifies the Holy Spirit by whose contact the black coal shines and glows.
The incense shows the grace of the Holy Trinity. As the smoke goes up to the high so also our prayers should go high
Who can use the censer?
Censing is the privilege of the ordained priest. Acolytes perform censing when the priest at certain times during the prayer when priest is unable to do it, with the approval of the priest (symbolically represented by the gesture of touching the acolytes head before he begins censing).
What does it symbolize?
Burning incense represents the prayers of the faithful rising towards Heaven as a sweet smelling spiritual fragrance. One commonly sung psalm during the censing is “Let my prayer rise like incense before You, the lifting up of my hands like the evening sacrifice.”
2. Holy Spirit
Spreading of the incense also symbolises the grace of Holy Spirit embracing the faithful.
3. Gifts of the three wise men
Symbolical representation of the gifts offered by the Wise Men to the infant Christ, – gold,frankincense, and myrrh
Why do we bow when the censer is turned to us?
When the censer is turned to people, it testifies to the fact that the Holy Spirit is descending upon all the faithful, as the carriers of God’s image within them. We bow when censed to acknowledge and show respect.
Some Biblical References
Each of you take his firepan and put incense on it, and each of you bring his censer before the LORD, two hundred and fifty firepans; also you and Aaron shall each bring his firepan. Num 16:17
So they each took his own censer and put fire on it, and laid incense on it; and they stood at the doorway of the tent of meeting, with Moses and Aaron. Num16:18
Say to Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, that he shall take up the censers out of the midst of the blaze, for they are holy; and you scatter the burning coals abroad. Num 16:37
Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. Rev 8:3
Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake. Rev 8:5