As the Christmas season draws to a close, we observe the Epiphany of the Lord, Jesus’ manifestation to the whole world after being revealed to the shepherds of Bethlehem. The Magi are the first Gentile witnesses of his message of universal salvation, and so with this feast we celebrate the fulfillment of God’s Advent promises.
Epiphany of the Lord
Epiphany, is traditionally celebrated the twelfth day after Christmas, January 6. Although the traditional date of Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day, is January 6th.
The Blessing of the Home
There are many traditions associated with the Epiphany. Blessing of the Home on the Feast of the Epiphany is one. It is sometimes provided by pastor. When there is no blessing of houses in a parish on Epiphany, a family member may go through the various rooms of the home sprinkling holy water which can be obtained from the parish.Bring a small jar with you to Mass and fill it from the Holy Water font.
The Chalking of the Doors
The chalking of the doors is a centuries-old practice throughout the world, though it appears to be someone less well-known in the United States. It is, however, an easy tradition to adopt, and a great practice whereby we dedicate our year to God from its very outset, asking His blessing on our homes and on all who live, work or visit them.
These letters are inscribed between the numbers of the year of the ceremony. Thus, as people are given the opportunity to participate in the chalking of the door, they will inscribe one or more of the symbols:
20+ C +M + B +19
The symbols are usually written on the upper horizontal piece of the door frame of the front entrance to a home; but if younger children or people in wheel chairs participate, encourage them to place the symbols anywhere on the door frame they can comfortably reach.
Traditionally we remember the names of the Magi as Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar — although these names are not to be found in Scripture. During the chalking blessing, the first letters of these three names — C, M, B — are inscribed on the door frame. Some suggest the C M B may also stand for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat,” meaning “May Christ bless this dwelling.”
The children in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at Saint Patrick Catholic Church participate in this tradition— chalking the door to the atrium. We invite you to participate in an Epiphany Blessing for your home. Click here to see the Epiphany Blessing that is used in the atrium at Saint Patrick Catholic Church.
Bless Your Door on Epiphany
The gospel tells us that the magi found Christ “on entering the house”. The door to your home is a holy threshold. You can bless those who come in and go out by inscribing above the door in chalk the first two numbers of the year + C + M + B + the last two numbers of the year. Tradition tells us that the letters stand for the names of the magi: Caspar, Malchior, Bethasar. Adolph Adam points out that it may also mean “Christus mansionem benedicat” or “may Christ bless this dwelling.” It is appropriate to bless your door in January – janua means “door” and the first month is the door to the new year.
20 + C + M + B + 19
After inscribing the doorway, say this prayer:
God in Bethlehem and Cana,
God of Jordan’s leaping waters,
In baptism you bring us
Into your family.
You wed us and embrace us
As your Beloved.
May we fill this place
With kindness to one another,
With hospitality to guests,
And with abundant care
For every stranger.
By the gentle light of a star,
Guide home all who seek you
On paths of faith, hope, and love.
Then we will join the angels in proclaiming your praise:
Glory in heaven and peace on earth,
Now and forever. Amen.
Then sing Christmas Carols such as “We three Kings”.
Share your Traditions
Watch the video to learn more about this feast day, then share your traditions.
Which tradition does your family have for this special feast day? Send us an email and tell us about it.