Today we celebrate the coming of the the Three Kings to worship the newborn King of kings. On this day is also attached a beautiful tradition coming from Scripture; chalking your Domestic Church (otherwise known as your home) with a blessing on the front door. Just as the homes were protected when the Israelites placed the prescribed sign on their door, Christians today can also place a sign on their doors thereby asking for the protection of God for their families.
The formula looks like this: 20 + C + M + B + 19
The numbers 20 and 19 designate the year. The letters in between are the initials of the three kings, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. These letters also abbreviate the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat: “May Christ bless the house.”
The tradition has a two-fold purpose. First, to invite Christ into this home to bless it with His love throughout the year. By marking the door through which your family travels daily, all will be reminded that this is a home where Christ’s love abounds. Second, because Christ lives in our homes, like His welcome of the Magi, we too are to be welcoming to all who visit, thereby sharing Christ with our visitors.
Children love the ceremonial blessing as it formalizes the fact that we are asking Christ to be a part of our Domestic Church for another year. The blessing only takes a few minutes to perform but leaves an impact for the entire year. Below is an option taken from the Roman Ritual for the prayers and actions of the blessings.
May the blessing of Christ greatly enrich the love of your marriage and family in 2019. Benedicite!
First you want to have blessed chalk. If your parish does not provide it, call around to other parishes or take some chalk to your priest and ask him to bless it as soon after Epiphany as possible.
Once you acquire the blessed chalk, either a priest, the father of the family, or another member of the household can bless the home in the following manner (adapted from the Roman Ritual):
Upon entering the house [or at the front door]:
Priest/Head of Household: Peace be to this house.
All: And to all who dwell herein.
Priest/Head of Household: 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 in symbol of His burial.
During the Magnificat, the room is sprinkled with holy water and incensed (if possible).
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 shown 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 remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.
After this is completed:
All: 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 in symbol of His burial.
Priest/Head of Household: Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead and lead us not into temptation, All: But deliver us from evil.
Priest/Head of Household: All they from Saba shall come
All: Bringing gold and frankincense.
Priest/Head of Household: O Lord, hear my prayer.
All: And let my cry come unto Thee.
Priest/Head of Household: Let us pray. O God, who by the guidance of a star didst on this day manifest Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we who know Thee by faith may also attain the vision of Thy glorious majesty. Through Christ our Lord.
Priest/Head of Household: Be enlightened, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee– Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.
All: And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light and kings in the splendor of thy rising, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.
Priest/Head of Household: Let us pray. Bless, O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of Thy law, the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And may this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein. Through Christ our Lord.
After the prayers of the blessing are recited, walk through the house and bless each room by sprinkling with Epiphany/holy water and incensing it.
Take the blessed chalk and first write the initials of the three Wise Men, connected with Crosses, over the inside of your front door (on the lintel, if possible). Then write the year, breaking up the numbers and the year so that they fall on both sides of the initials. It should look like this for example 20 C+M+B 19.