The Feast of the Epiphany was this past Sunday, January 8th. This is traditionally the time people will Epiphany House Blessing or chalking the door.
Typically a family gathers to ask God’s blessing on their home and on those who live in or visit the home. It is an invitation for Jesus to be a daily guest in our home, our comings and goings, our conversations, our work and play, our joys and sorrows.
A traditional way of doing this is to use chalk to write above the home’s entrance, 20 + C + M + B + 17. The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross and 2017 is the year.
If you prefer not to use the traditional chalk, there are signs available in the back of the church or the parish office. You are most welcome to pick one up.
Blessing the Chalk:
V. Our help is the name of the Lord:
R. The maker of heaven and earth.
V. The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in:
R. From this time forth for evermore.
Let us pray:
Loving God, bless this chalk which you have created, that it may be helpful to your people; and grant that through the invocation of your most Holy Name that we who use it in faith to write upon the door of our home the names of your holy ones Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, may receive health of body and protection of soul for all who dwell in or visit our home; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Offer the following prayer:
Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here with the gift of your love; and grant that we may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives we touch. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen us in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen
“Chalking the door” is a way to celebrate and literally mark the occasion of the Epiphany and God’s blessing of our lives and home. With time the chalk will fade. As it does we let the meaning of the symbols written sink into the depths of our heart and be manifest in our words and actions the Latin words, Christus mansionem benedictat, “May Christ bless the house.”
I remember my dad telling me that when he was young, on the Feast of the Epiphany, the priests of the parish would go around to the homes of every parishioner and bless them. He said that when the house was blessed, they would give the priest a chicken, or eggs, or something they had made on the farm. I used to think, “How is it possible for a few priests to get to every home in the parish in one day AND where did they keep all those chickens or eggs or whatever in their cars until they got home?”
I still marvel at it but I have heard through manypeople that this was a longstanding tradition, especially in ethnic parishes from Eastern Europe. The wise men came to the house where Jesus was with Mary, his Mother and they offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We do the reverse: we pray that the Lord Jesus will come to OUR houses and bring to us His peace and mercy and love. The grace of a peaceful, loving, forgiving home is one of the greatest gifts we will ever experience in this life.
This new year, may we truly be blessed with all good gifts but most of all with a good and loving family! God bless you all!
GRADE 3 CATECHIST NEEDED FOR SUNDAY REP: We are in need of a catechist to finish the year, Feb. 5 - April 30, 9:00-10:15 Sundays for a class of 10 3rd graders. We will help with getting required background clearances. If you love your faith and want to share it with our children, please contact us as soon as possible. REP@stjoanhershey.org
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