Sunday, January 4, 2009

Feast of the Epiphany

and a

House Blessing

****The Feast of the Epiphany is observed in the United States on the Sunday after January 1st and the feast's traditional date, January 6, marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas, and celebrates the arrival of the three wise men, or the Magi, in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. Upon their arrival, the wise men which tradition has named Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar are said to have presented Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

****I dislike the Church's insistence on moving feasts around. However, looking on the bright side, those of us who attend a parish that does not bless chalk, dollars to donuts, you have forgotten to gather up a piece of chalk for your pastor to bless. Fear not! Now you are able to look at your friends and say, "Oh yes, I always bless my home on the "real" Epiphany", with your snark-o-meter running on 10 plus. So raid the kids room or stop at Wally World, hunt down a priest, thrust the chalk under his nose and ask for it to be blessed. Simple!

****I've printed one blessing but there are others to be found. Don't get too wound up over which one you use. I found one that included the prologue to the Gospel of John (John 1:1-5). I will definitely include it because it is just about my all time favorite passage and I miss reciting it at the end of Mass.

****Since you have managed to gather your family together, I say let's go for broke and bless the whole dang house room by room. Below the "door ceremony" is a room-by-room blessing. I just know someone out there is thinking, "but the door blessing covers the whole house." Well I know that, but Mom moved heaven and earth to gather her brood, so let's use this opportunity to do a major blessing over-kill. You just can't have enough blessings, doncha know!


The home blessing can be done as follows:

Use the blessed chalk to write:

20+C+M+B+09 above the doorways: 2009 for the year; C, M, B for the 3 Magi – Casper, Melchior, and Balthasar – and for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, Latin for "May Christ Bless this House."

****The crosses represent the protection of the Precious Blood of Christ, whom we invoke, and the holiness of the Three Magi sanctified by their adoration of the Infant Christ. The inscription is made above the front door, so that all who enter and depart this year may enjoy God’s blessing. The month of January still bears the name of the Roman god Janus, the doorkeeper of heaven and protector of the beginning and end of things. This blessing “christens” the ancient Roman observance of the first month. The inscription is made of chalk, a product of clay, which recalls the human nature taken by the Eternal Word of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As you are writing, pray one of the following prayers:

****May all who come to our home this year rejoice to find Christ living among us; and may we seek and serve, in everyone we meet, that same Jesus who is Lord, forever and ever. Amen.
Lord God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star.
Bless this house and all who inhabit it.
Fill us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Adapted from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers
Bishop’s Committee on the Liturgy
National Conference of Catholic Bishops © 1988, pp. 297-301

Gather as a family in any room you desire. If possible, gather where there is a crucifix present.

All make the sign of the cross.

The leader, which the Bishops encourage to be a layperson, begins:

Peace be with this house and with all who live here. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

All respond: Amen.

The leader may use these or similar words to introduce the house blessing:

When Christ took flesh through the Blessed Virgin Mary, he made his home with us.
Let us now pray that he will enter this home and bless it with his presence. May he always be here among us; may he nurture our love for each other, share in our joys, comfort us in our sorrows.

Inspired by his teachings and example, let us seek to make our home before all else a dwelling place of love, diffusing far and wide the goodness of Christ.

Then the Scripture is read by another family member:

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Colossians:

You are God’s chosen race, his saints; He loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins.

The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same.
Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love.
And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body.

Always be thankful. Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom.

With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and
inspired songs to God;

And never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The word of the Lord.

All Respond: Thanks be to God.

After the scripture reading, all go from room to room, offering prayers of intercession and sprinkling holy water, if desired. Some of the following prayers may be used.

At the entrance:
O God, protect our going out and our coming in; Let us share the hospitality of this home
with all who visit us, that those who enter here may know your love and peace.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

In the living room:
O God, give your blessings to all who share this room, that we may be knit together in companionship.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

In the kitchen:
O God, you fill the hungry with good things. Send your blessing on us, as we work in this kitchen, and make us ever thankful for our daily bread.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

In the dining room:
Blessed are you, Lord of heaven and earth, for you give us food and drink to sustain our lives and make our hearts glad. Help us to be grateful for all your mercies, and mindful of the needs of others.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

In the bedrooms:
Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake we may keep watch
with Christ, and asleep, we may rest in his peace.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.


Mark D. said...

Thanks for sharing all this information. Very good stuff!

By the way, if you are interested in getting some information on going problems with the Legionaries of Christ, check out the ReGain website at


Cathy_of_Alex said...

WHAT?! No photos of you and hubby in deep snow trying to etch he outside of the doors! LOL!

Adrienne said...

Cathy - We'll be doing it on the real Ephipany - snark, snark. Truth is - Ineed to get my chalk blessed ;-)

....and since we are expecting another 10 -12" tonight I want to make sure we do it when it's really, really crappy outside rather than just crappy.

Mark - thanks for that link. I'll be using it...

X said...

Thanks Adrienne - beautiful!

Tom in Vegas said...

Oh man, I would LOVE to do this blessing in my home. I especially enjoy the fact that this tradition of writing the symbols outside your house - if traced within a Christian context - might find its roots in ancient Judaism. I love those venerable, archaic traditions.

Thank you for sharing, Auntie A. I have a new bundle of joy that makes this blessing x2 [wink, wink;0)]

LuisLiviaLuisa said...

Thank you for sharing with us all abot the blessing of our homes!

A Holy and Happy Feast of the Epiphany!
I invite you to listen a special episode of the podcast “Lev├íntate y Sal a Caminar…” ( this week in an English version) dedicated to the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord.
32 minutes of Christmas carols in many languages, something about Russian Christmas and more…
Jesus loves you and Mary too.
Luisa from Lima - Peru
You can listen to it in:
“God is shining forth in the most unwanted and unsuspected places…” St. Anthony Messenger

Kelly said...


Thanks for this post. I first saw the chalk writings above the doors on the homes in the German village where we lived when I was stationed over there. I have never done this blessing before but I did pick up the packet with the blessing and the chalk after Mass last night. As I read your post I realized that I did not forget about the chalk... I was just waiting for Epiphany. :)

EC Gefroh said...

OMGoodness! I almost forgot to do this with my family tonight!! A million thanks for the reminder. Good thing I decided to read your blog first!!

Adrienne said...

Wise move (or men??) ;-)