Sacred Signs: Incense

Authored by Romano Guardini in Issue #32.3 of The Sower

This liturgical meditation is taken from Romano Guardini's book, Sacred Signs.

‘And I saw …… and an angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer, and there was given him much incense……. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God, from the hand of the angel.’ So says St John in the Apocalypse.

There is a grand beauty in this laying of the bright grains on the glowing coal and then the scented smoke rising from the swinging censer. It is like a melody with rhythmic movement and sweet odour. Without any purpose, as clear as a song. Beautiful squandering of costliness. A gift of un-reserving love.

So once, when the Lord sat at table in Bethany, and Mary brought the costly spikenard and poured it over His feet, and dried them with her hair, and the house was filled with odour, narrow minds murmured: ‘To what purpose is this waste?’ The Son of God replied: ‘Let her alone, she hath done it for my burial.’ A mystery of death was here, of love, of odour, of sacrifice.

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