The thurifer helps to express adoration, prayer, and reverence before God. Psalm 141 describes incense as a symbol of prayer: "Let my prayer rise like incense before you." The use of incense helps our entire being to be more deeply engaged in liturgical prayer. The thurifer helps to engage all of our senses in prayer, heightening the solemnity of the liturgy. We use incense on feasts and solemnities.
Thurifers are involved in the liturgy in a solemn and ceremonial fashion. Their appreciation of scent and the involvement of the senses in the liturgy enables the assembly to enter the church with solemnity and awe in God's presence.
The thurifer must be able to handle the thurible, the brass censer that hangs from long chains. This does require a little practice. The thurifer should be comfortable standing and moving in front of the assembly, providing leadership, reverence and a solemn presence. Thurifers also learn how to mix incense. We use a combination of high-quality fresh incense mixed with ground frankincense, burned on very hot charcoal. This provides a pure scent that contains less soot, making for less coughing in the assembly.