Epiphany House Blessing with Chalk

house blessing

2013 Epiphany Blessing

The Church has a custom of blessing homes on the Feast of the Epiphany and the week following. Family and friends gather to ask God’s blessing on their homes and 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 blessed during the Epiphany liturgy and write above the home’s entryway, 20 + C + M + B + 14. 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 2014 is the year.


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. V. The Lord be with you.
R. And also with you.

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 all who use it in faith to write upon the doors of their homes the names of your saints, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, may receive health of body and protection of soul for all who dwell in or visit their home; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Instructions for Blessing the Home

Using the blessed chalk mark the lintel of your front door (or front porch step) as follows:

20 + C + M + B + 14 while saying:

The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s Son who became human two thousand and fourteen years ago. May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen. Then 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 for ever. Amen. At times God has commanded his people to mark their doors. The Israelites marked their doors with the lamb’s blood on the night of the passover. A similar command was given with the Shema Yisrael:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart … and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-6, 9)

“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.

Adoration of the Magi by John Flaxman (source)

Adoration of the Magi by John Flaxman (source)

22 thoughts on “Epiphany House Blessing with Chalk

  1. Pingback: Epiphany Proclamation 2014 | Interrupting the Silence

  2. A lovely tradition that I was completely unaware of. A wonderful way to remember that Christ is our refuge and our true home. Thanks for this

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    • Marjorie, the Book of Occasional Services recommends Epiphany as a time for house blessings. It does not have the chalk blessing but offers a different liturgy. The chalk blessing has become a fun and meaningful part of our Epiphany celebration.

      Peace,
      Mike+

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  3. This was also a first for me Mike, so thank you for developing the theme. There was a blurb in our Sunday bulletin and St B’s hosted the event. What a beautiful tradition, and you have also written beautifully.

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  4. Pingback: Blessing Chalk and Proclaiming Easter – It’s Epiphany! | The Community

  5. When I was living with my uncle and aunt, they marked the doorways, but refused to tell me why. It frightened me that they would do something so mysterious. In retrospect, it was another way for them to tell me that I did not belong. What a shame.

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  6. Pingback: - Lisa's Musings

  7. Thank you for this post. My husband, 15-year-old daughter and I have been doing a last festive family meal and a chalk blessing, since my daughter was small (she sometimes sat on my husbands shoulders to make the markings). We have used the annual Advent/Christmastide family prayer booklets handed out at our Episcopal parishes, but we have never seen a blessing for the chalk itself. Both blessings are among the loveliest we have used to date. We also did not know of the alternate meaning of the inscription (Christus mansionem benedicat). We observe the custom of not decorating heavily or hosting secular holiday gatherings until the last week of Advent, so this is a nice way for us to close out our family observance of Christmas when we are ready, not when the early celebrators take down their outdoor lights! Also, it’s a link to my French Catholic roots wherein the big celebration and gift-giving happened on Jan. 6th. Baking a simple King Cake is a fun addition to the observance.

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    • Elizabeth, I like the way you celebrate the season and am glad the post offered some additional explanations. I also like the idea of a King’s Cake. It would be a great addition to our celebration.

      I hope the Epiphany light of Christ fills your home and lives.
      Mike+

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  8. Pingback: Follow your star home | The View from the Valley

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