The Feast of the Epiphany has, for centuries, been a traditional time for Christian families to bless their homes. This tradition likely came about because the Three Wise Men visited the home that the Holy Family had established in Bethlehem. The visit from the Wise Men blessed the home of the Holy Family because they came in humility to honor and pay homage to the Christ Child and because they were the first to not only seek Jesus, but also to recognize Him as the Messiah.
From Scripture, we know that whatever God created was good, but with “the Fall”, evil entered the world, corrupting the creation. God the Father sent His Son Jesus to save it by effecting a “new creation”. This is celebrated on the feast of Epiphany, January 6, during the Traditional Mass, specifically with the Great Blessing of Water.
Gather as a family and discuss the ways you can seek and recognize God’s presence in your family and your home throughout the coming year. Consider home blessing as an act of God’s sanctification of all things through Christ’s baptism in the river Jordan and His epiphany (the manifestation of divine reality) to the world. It is customary to invite your priest within a few days following Epiphany to bless your home with Holy water, incense, and chalk.
A priest will go to each room, and sprinkle the Holy water in the four corners, blessing the home with the grace of the Holy Spirit which also protects you from evil spirits. Using blessed chalk, he will mark the main door of the house with the initials of the Magi, the legendary names of the three kings: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, and a code of the current year (2018) connected with crosses: 20 ✞ C ✞ M ✞ B ✞ 18. Another explanation of the initials (C ✞ M ✞ B) are the first letters of the blessing: “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” (Latin: “May Christ Bless this house”). The crosses (✞) represent the protection of the Christ. This short liturgy is a way of marking our homes with sacred signs and symbols as we ask God’s blessing upon those who live, work, or visit throughout the coming year.
This Christian custom of chalking the door has a biblical root as the Israelites in the Old Testament marked their doors with the lamb’s blood on the night of the Passover.
“And they shall take of the blood thereof, and put it upon both the side posts, and on the upper door posts of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.”(Exodus 12:7)
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength. And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart: And thou shalt tell them to thy children, and thou shalt meditate upon them sitting in thy house, and walking on thy journey, sleeping and rising. And thou shalt bind them as a sign on thy hand, and they shall be and shall move between thy eyes. And thou shalt write them in the entry, and on the doors of thy house.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6, 9)
The Epiphanytide practice of household blessing also serves to protect Christian homes from evil spirits until the next Epiphany Day, at which time the custom is repeated. This rite of blessing the home is led by a priest. If no priest is available, please use the following guide:Epiphany Home Blessing
The Roman Ritual is a collection of prayers and blessings of the Latin Rite