St James The Apostle Parish

House Blessing at Epiphany

Dear parishioners,

I invite you to welcome Christ/God into your homes this New Year by marking the entrance of your homes with the Epiphany blessing 20 + C + M + B + 23.

Since the Middle Ages there has been a tradition that on (or near) the Feast of the Epiphany, we pray for God's blessing upon our homes, marking the door post with chalk (an incarnational image reminding us of the dust of the earth from which we were made). We mark above the main door of our home with the initials of the Magi and the numerals of the New Year, connected with crosses: "20 + C + M + B + 23". The initials remind us of the legendary names of the Magi — Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, and stand for the Latin motto: Christus mansionem benedicat, "May Christ bless this house."

In the book of Exodus, the Israelites marked their doors with the blood so that the Lord would pass over their homes; but in the ritual, we mark our doors with chalk as a sign that we have invited God's presence and blessing into our homes.

I will bless the chalk for the house blessing after the Epiphany Masses as well as all the Vigil and Sunday Masses along with all the remaining Sunday Masses I celebrate in the month of January.

Once you have the blessed chalk a priest or the head of the household can bless the home. The letter (P) designates a priest and in the absence of a priest the head of household may lead the following prayer.

While at the front door.

  • All: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
  • Priest/Head of household: Peace be to this house.
  • All: And to all who dwell here.
  • P: 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 for His humanity and for His burial.
  • Enter the household and all say the Magnificat:
  • All: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for He has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
  • From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name.
  • He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation. He has shone the strength of His arm; He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
  • He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
  • He has come to the help of His servant Israel for He has remembered His promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.
  • After the Magnificat is said the room is sprinkled with holy water.
  • All: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and will be forever. Amen
  • P: Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory ofthe Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; But upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory (Is 60:1-2).
  • P: Almighty God please bless this/our home. May the peace and protection of Christ dwell with us forever. Amen.
  • Sprinkle the whole house with holy water, then mark the lintel of your door.
  • 20+C+M+B+23