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Question 36

Hi, Father, Growing up in a Greek home, we were taught that burning incense in one's home wards of evil. Is the devil actual scared of incense and does burning incense protect one from the evil eye? 



Answer to Question 36


 Incense is something we offer to God and is a form of prayer. When a priest offers incense in church, he will say the following prayer  “We offer incense unto thee, O Christ our God, for a sweetsmelling savour of spiritual fragrance, which do thou accept upon Thy most heavenly altar; and send down upon us the grace of Thy most Holy Spirit.”


The prayer said at the blessing of the incense denotes that God will find our offering of incense pleasing and in return will send down upon us the grace of the Holy Spirit. The sweet smelling aroma of the smoke suggests the spiritual fragrance of the Holy Spirit.  The Lord speaking through the Prophet Malachi said: “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering.” (Malachi 1:11) 


Not so long ago it was customary to offer incense as part of the morning prayers. Our grandmothers would prepare the incense, (which in Cyprus was dried olive leaves) by blessing it by making the sign of the cross over it three times, then they would first step outside and offer the incense to God and then bless the house and its inhabitants.  The proper understanding of offering incense is as the prayer mentions for God to find it pleasing and to send his grace upon us, but superstitions always influenced the uneducated and the custom of offering incense developed a double purpose; a form of prayer and a protection against evil spirits.


 Theoretically this is not wrong because if we are asking God to send down upon us the grace of the Holy Spirit then it also means that we are asking God to dispel any evil influences that might harm us. This would answer your question if the devil is actually scared of incense. He may not be scared of the smoke but he is afraid of the Holy Spirit and if we have faith that God actually does send his Holy Spirit then we are protected from all evil influences which includes the evil eye.