Bless Your House This Year with the Epiphany Blessing

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Every year, Catholics gather outside the front doors of their home, chalk in hand. Perhaps you’ve seen the chalking above a church door, or above the front door to a friends home. But just what does the chalking mean? What do the letters and numbers symbolize? Read on to discover the tradition of chalking, celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany. It offers a beautiful opportunity to bless your home for the upcoming year.

What is the Epiphany home blessing?

The feast day of Epiphany (which you may hear referred to as the Twelfth Night, or Three Kings Day) celebrates the coming of the three kings, who visited Christ from the East. The feast also is a time for a Catholic tradition, the chalking of the doors.  The phrase that is chalked above the door this year is 20 + C+ M + B + 18.

The letters ‘C’, ‘M’, and ‘B’ have two meanings. In honor of the magi, they represent the initials of the three kings: Caspar, Malchior, and Balthazar. These three kings visited the Christ child in His first home in Nazareth.

But the words also abbreviate a Latin saying: Christus mansionem benedicat. Translated, this means: “May Christ bless the house.”

Chalking the door of the home is a practice celebrated by Catholics for centuries throughout the world. However, the practice doesn’t appear as much in the United States. That doesn’t mean you can’t adopt the tradition with your family this year! The easy ceremony reminds Catholics that their year is dedicated to God.

 

How to bless your home this Epiphany

Epiphany is traditionally celebrated on the 12th day after Christmas, January 6th. In the United States, the feast is moved to the Sunday between January 2nd and January 8th. This year, Epiphany in the United States falls on January 6th.

The Epiphany blessing can be performed by writing the chalk inscription and saying a short prayer. It can also be made more elaborate by including songs, longer prayers, holy water, and incense.

Here is a sample of an Epiphany home blessing:

Leader (a priest, if present, or the father of the home): Peace be to this house.
All: And to all who dwell herein.

All: From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.

Together, everyone prays The Magnificat. During this prayer, the room is sprinkled with holy water and incensed. After this is completed, all gathered continue to pray together. 

All: From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.

Leader: Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation

All: But deliver us from evil.
Leader: All they from Saba shall come
All: Bringing gold and frankincense.
Leader: O Lord, hear my prayer.
All: And let my cry come to You.

Leader: Let us pray. O God, who by the guidance of a star didst on this day manifest Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we who know Thee by faith may also attain the vision of Thy glorious majesty. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Leader: Be enlightened, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee—Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.

All: And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light and kings in the splendor of thy rising, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.

Leader: Let us pray: Bless, O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of Thy law, the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And may this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

After the prayers of the blessing are recited, each room of the home is sprinkled with Epiphany water and incensed. Then, initials of the Magi are inscribed upon the doors with chalk. The formula for the ritual for 2018 is easy: with any color of chalk, simply write the following above the door of your home: 20 + C + M + B + 18.

 

An evangelization tool 

There are many varieties found of the house blessing. But regardless of the way you bless your house, the Epiphany blessing is a beautiful way to start of the new year – and start conversations with those who enter your home. Every time someone asks about the chalk above your door, you’ll have the opportunity to explain this Catholic tradition.

 

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