Monday, January 14, 2008

Home Blessing post Epiphany

Last week, on Wednesday, our local Catholic Home School group met to celebrate Epiphany. We know we were a few days too late, but didn’t want the event to pass by without doing something special. We met at the noon Mass at the cathedral, all the little children in tow. We had brought chalk for blessing of homes, which we shared with all who wanted some on their way out after Mass.

After blessing the chalk, Father gave a short instruction on the proper way to use the chalk to bless homes during his homily. His recommendations were that, as a family, we read the prologue from the Gospel of John (Jn 1:1-18), pray an Our Father together and then inscribe the appropriate letters over our doorway.

Here is a short excerpt from the Catholic Culture site:

In some parishes it is a custom for the pastor to bless the homes of the parish from the church doorway, the people reading the words of the blessing at the same hour in their homes, and going in procession from room to room sprinkling the house with holy water. At the end of this procession, the father or other grownup writes over the front door with the blessed chalk:

20 + C + B + M + 08

Blessing of Homes on Epiphany
V. Peace be to this house. R. And to all that dwell herein. Antiphon: From the east the Magi came to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures, they offered costly gifts: gold to the great King, incense to the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial. Alleluia
Now follows the reading of the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). The home is sprinkled with holy water, and following the Magnificat the antiphon is repeated: From the east. . . . Then the Our Father, silently.
V. And lead us not into temptation. R. But deliver us from evil. V. Many shall come from Saba R. Bearing gold and incense. V. O Lord, hear my prayer. R. And let my cry come unto thee. V. The Lord be with you. R. And with thy spirit. Let us pray. O God, Who by the guidance of a star didst this day reveal thy Sole-Begotten Son to the Gentiles, grant that we who now know thee by faith may be brought to the contemplation of thy heavenly majesty. Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord Who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.
Responsory: Be enlightened and shine forth, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and upon thee is risen the glory of the Lord, Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary. V. Nations shall walk in thy light, and kings in the splendor of thy birth. R. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Let us pray. Bless, O Lord, almighty God, this home that it be the shelter of health, chastity, self-conquest, humility, goodness, mildness, obedience to the commandments, and thanksgiving to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May blessing remain for all time upon this dwelling and them that live herein. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

An email from a friend contained this information:

Something interesting -The ancient feast of the Epiphany actually celebrates three events, tied together by the meaning of the word epiphany as “appearance” or “manifestation.” Jesus suddenly appears as who He really is–messiah and God–to the Magi, at Cana when he works his first miracle, and when he is baptized in the Jordan. In the early Church, Epiphany was therefore second only to Easter vigil as the time to celebrate the sacrament of baptism. Blessed water from those baptisms were used to bless the dwellings of the faithful, and it became customary to write over the doorposts of blessed homes “C+B+M” meaning “Christ blesses this house (Christus bendicat mansionem).” Since the three kings were also remembered at the same time, someone decided to give them names, and to use CBM as their initials–Caspar, Balthasar, and Melchior. The names stuck.

But the fact that Matthew gives them no names is telling. They may be kings, but in this story they are merely supporting actors. They follow the true Star, the King of Kings. Only His name is important. Epiphany is not about the Magi–it’s all about Jesus.

After Mass, we proceeded to a member’s home, where the children decorated crowns and we all feasted on homemade ‘king cake’, recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse.

At home, with our two little boys, we followed our priest’s recommendation and read the prologue of the Gospel of John, followed by an Our Father. After that, my husband wrote the appropriate letters over our doorway. Unfortunately, I told him the wrong order for the letters… ours says 20 C+M+B 08. I think it is stilled blessed, even if the order is wrong…

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