Gospel Reflection for January 8, 2023 - Mt 2:1-12
My experience when it comes to the use of incense it depends on the priest. Some in our parish have used it liberally and others never.
Very well done! I would add that frankincense and myrrh were also very valuable gifts due to their medicinal value - the myrrh was actually more valuable by weight than the gold! Pliny the Elder noted that it had been the source of tremendous wealth in the Arab spice trade.
According to the Physicians’ Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines:
Myrrh is stated to possess antimicrobial, astringent, carminative, expectorant, anticatarral,
antiseptic and vulnerary properties. Traditionally, it has been used for aphthous ulcers,
pharyngitis, respiratory catarrh, common cold furunculosis, wounds and abrasions, and
specifically for mouth ulcers, gingivitis and pharyngitis. Myrrh’s local astringent, disinfectant
and granulation-promoting effects are as a result of its essential oil (consisting mainly of
sesquiterpenes) and amaroids.
Unproven uses: In folk medicine, Myrrh is occasionally used internally as a carminative for
nonspecific intestinal infections and also as an expectorant for coughs. Folk medicine uses have
also included stimulating the appetite and the flow of digestive juices.
Chinese Medicine: Uses include carbuncles, furuncles, wounds (as a styptic), amenorrhea and
Indian Medicine: Among uses in Indian medicines are menstrual disorders, stomach complaints,
wounds, ulcers, and inflammations of the skin and mouth.
Hippocrates recommended Myrrh in formulas for violent pains of the eyes and fever.
Theophrastus described tapping certain trees such as pine to collect the resin, and the use of
gums such as frankincense and myrrh.
Dioscorides wrote of Myrrh:
Myrrhis is similar to hemlock in its stalk and leaves, but it has a long root — tender, round,
sweet smelling and pleasant to eat. A decoction (taken as a drink with wine) helps those bitten by
harvest spiders, and it purges out the menstrual flow and afterbirth. Boiled in liquid (to be
sipped) it is given for pulmonary consumption. Some say that it is a prophylactic against
infection (taken as a drink with wine, twice or three times a day) in pestilential seasons. It is also
called conila, or myrrha.
Saint Hildegard von Bingen recommended the scent of myrrh for bad dreams, melancholy and
even emotional issues caused by evil spirits. Internally, she recommended it infused in warm
wine for fevers.
In the German Folk Medicine tradition, Brother Aloysius recommended Myrrh be used for
weakness of stomach and intestines, mucus stomach, indigestion, irregular menstruation,
leukorrhea, chronic chest complaints, fevers, inflammation, gas, piles, swollen liver, poor
circulation, mucus lungs, thick, bad pus, mucus in the womb and bladder, as a mouthwash for
rotten teeth and gums, ulceration of the throat and throat complaints.
So... these tree resins do a whole lot more than just smell good! I do love "smells and bells" though!
Thank you, Kaleb, this is most informative and interesting. I have learned a few things which lead to meditative thoughts!