Here’s how (and why) to do your very own DIY-style Epiphany House blessing this New Year!
In this post you will find: (click to jump to the spot you need!)
- Explanations (who, what, why)
- Chalking instructions (how to chalk the doorway)
- Step-By-Step Guide to the Epiphany House Blessing
- Blessing Prayers (Two ways!)
- Hymns to sing during your at-home liturgy
What is an Epiphany House Blessing?
An Epiphany House Blessing is a blessing done at the doorway of a Christian home to ward off evil and witness to the faith.
If you are new here, welcome! I’m a homeschool, homebirth, homemade mom of 5 boys. Check out my about page to meet me and my family.
When is Epiphany?
The feast of Epiphany is traditionally celebrated the 12th day after Christmas, January 6th. In the dioceses of the United States and Canada, however, this feast has been moved to the Sunday between January 2 and January 8. Grab my free printable January liturgical calendar page to see when it is this year!
What Is Blessed Chalk?
Blessed chalk is a sacramental of the Catholic Church. It is traditional to use white chalk to symbolize purity from evil, but any colour of chalk can be blessed.
The chalk serves as a reminder to us that we are dust like in Genesis 3:19, “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”
The chalk should be blessed with holy water by a member of the clergy. Here is the prayer from the Roman Ritual 1952:
P: Our help is in the name of The Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit.
Bless, + O Lord God, this creature chalk to render it helpful to men. Grant that they who use it in faith and with it inscribe upon the entrance of their homes the names of thy saints, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, may through their merits and intercession enjoy health of body and protection of soul. Through Christ our Lord.
The chalk is sprinkled with holy water.
Prayer Source: Roman Ritual: Volume III, The Blessings by Philip T. Weller, The Bruce Publishing Company, 1952
Why the Doorway or Lintel?
The use of the doorway or lintel is reminiscent of the Israelites marking their doorways with the blood of the lamb on the first Passover in Egypt. It is also the entrance to the home which provides a strong witness to others and symbolizes a commitment to welcome Christ into the home all year long.
In a very practical way, too, as we go in and out of our homes, we will be reminded of this commitment our family has made to Christ.
Who Can Do a House Blessing?
A priest or the spiritual leader of the household should do the house blessing, but any baptised person can do it.
What Do You Need to do an Epiphany House Blessing?
You need only a few materials to do this blessing.
- The prayers, which I will provide below and are also available in this amazing little book.
- Chalk, blessed (or you can bless it during)
- A doorway (generally the main entrance)
- Someone tall enough to reach the lintel (or a small stepladder)
- Holy water, optional
How to Do an Epiphany House Blessing Step-by-Step:
- Get chalk blessed by a priest if possible. Otherwise, you can bless it yourself.
- Assemble at the front door or the family altar.
- Pray the blessing and chalk the door or lintel with the formula YY+C+M+B+YY.
- Sprinkle Holy Water if desired.
Here are the prayers for the house blessing from the USCCB:
When all have gathered, a suitable song may be sung. The leader makes the sign of the cross, and all reply, “Amen.”
The leader greets those present in the following words:
Let us praise God, who fills our hearts and homes with peace.
Blessed be God forever.
R/. Blessed be God forever.
In the following or similar words, the leader prepares those present for the blessing:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling place among us. It is Christ who enlightens our hearts and homes with his love. May all who enter this home find Christ’s light and love.
One of those present or the leader reads a text of sacred Scripture, for example, Luke 19:1-9:
Listen to the words of the holy Gospel according to Luke:
Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way.> When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.”
The intercessions are then said:
Leader: The Son of God made his home among us. With thanks and praise let us call upon him.
R/. Stay with us, Lord.
Leader: Lord Jesus Christ, with Mary and Joseph you formed the Holy Family: remain in our home, that we may know you as our guest and honor you as our Head.
R/. Stay with us, Lord.
Leader: Lord Jesus Christ, you had no place to lay your head, but in the spirit of poverty accepted the hospitality of your friends: grant that through our help the homeless may obtain proper
R/. Stay with us, Lord.
Leader:Lord Jesus Christ, the three kings presented their gifts to you in praise and adoration: grant that those living in this house may use their talents and abilities to your greater glory.
R/. Stay with us, Lord.
After the intercessions the leader invites all present to say the Lord’s Prayer.
The leader says the prayer of blessing with hands joined:
Lord God of heaven and earth,
you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation
by the guidance of a star.
Bless this house
and all who inhabit it.
Fill them (us) with the light of Christ,
that their (our) concern for others may reflect your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The leader concludes the rite by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross and saying:
May Christ Jesus dwell with us,
keep us from all harm,
and make us one in mind and heart,
now and forever.
It is preferable to end the celebration with a suitable song, for example, “O Come, All Ye Faithful” or “We Three Kings.”
Here is a liturgy described by Catholic culture that I think is a very good option for your epiphany blessing:
Gather around the crib.
Priest or Leader: God’s peace be in this home,
All: And in all who live here.
Priest or Leader: The star burned like a flame, pointing the way to God, the King of kings; the wise men saw the sign and brought their gifts in homage to their great King.
Canticle: The Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55
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 shall 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 has remembered His promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.
Glory 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.
All: The star burned like a flame, pointing the way to God, the King of kings; the wise men saw the sign and brought their gifts in homage to their great King.
Priest or Leader: Many shall come from Sheba.
All: Bearing gold and incense.
Priest or Leader: O Lord, hear my prayer.
All: And let my cry come unto Thee.
Priest or Leader: Let us pray.
O God, who by the guidance of a star did this day reveal your Only Begotten Son to the Gentiles, grant that we who know You by faith may be brought to the contemplation of the heavenly majesty, through the same Christ, Our Lord.
All: 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.
Priest or Leader: Nations shall walk in your light, and kings in the brilliance of your rising.
All: And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
Bless the chalk and the gifts of the wise men, optional.
Priest or Leader: Let us pray. O Lord, Almighty God, bless this house + that it may become a shelter of health, chastity, self-conquest, humility, goodness, mildness, obedience to the commandments, and thanksgiving to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Upon this house and those who dwell herein may Your blessing remain forever, through Christ our Lord.
The father of the family and the three “kings” take blessed chalk (one piece each) and proceed to the front door, accompanied by the priest. While all look on, the father reads the corresponding words as the kings inscribe their initials onto the lintel. (The initials CMB also stand for Christus mansionem benedicat: May Christ bless this house.)
Final inscription on lintel should read: 2 0 + C + M + B + 2 4:
The three wise men, Caspar, [Caspar inscribes ‘C’ on lintel] C
Melchior, [Melchior inscribes ‘M’] M
and Balthasar [Balthasar inscribes ‘B’] B
followed the star of God’s Son who became man two thousand [Dad inscribes the ‘2 0’ on left] 2 0
twenty-four years ago. [Dad inscribes ‘2 4’ on right] 2 4
May Christ bless our dwelling, [Dad places + after ‘2 0’] +
and remain with us throughout the new year, [ + after ‘C’] +
and grant that our comings and goings [ + after ‘M’] +
will be in search of truth. [ + after ‘B’] +
Priest/Father: Almighty God, incline your ear. May you bless us and all who are gathered here. Send your holy angel who will defend us and fill with grace all who live here.
The Chalking Formula for Epiphany House Blessing in Arabic and Roman Numerals
Here is how the chalking formula works and what it represents.
What do the numbers mean?
The first two numbers represent the first two digits of the current Year of our Lord. The final two numbers also represent this.
You can use our usual numerical system, which are Arabic numerals OR you can choose to write it in Roman Numerals.
In Arabic Numerals it would look like this:
In Roman Numerals its a 2000, not a 20, so it would read:
For whatever reason, people get really confused by this! Never Fear, I have double checked these year conversions and written up the house blessing for the next TEN YEARS.
Here is my handy dandy Year by year Roman numeral chart for you:
|Roman Numeral Year
|House Blessing in Roman Numerals
what Does The CMB Mean?
The C+M+B has a double meaning:
- The first meaning it the names of the three kings, or three wise men. Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. They are not named in the Bible, but they are named in an ancient Greek text c AD 500 entitled Excerpta Latina Barbari.
- Secondly, and maybe a better explanation is that it stands for the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat which means “May Christ Bless this Home” OR if you want an easy way to remember, I like to think of it as CHRIST (this) MANSION, BLESS. (No, my home isn’t a mansion strictly speaking. But it could be based on the amount of love in it. 😉
Hymns to Sing at Your House Blessing Liturgy
We Three Kinds and O Come All Ye Faithful are great for Epiphany. The Magi aren’t mentioned till verse 8 in O Come All Ye Faithful, though, so you may need to skip ahead a little if you have little kids.
Here are the Lyrics:
We Three Kings of Orient Are
We three Kings of Orient are;
bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain,
moor and mountain
following yonder star.
Refrain: O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.
Born a babe on Bethlehem’s plain,
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign. Refrain.
Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Pray’r and praising,
all men raising,
Worship him God most high. Refrain.
Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb. Refrain.
Glorious now, behold Him arise,
King and God sacrifice!
Earth to Heav’n replies. Refrain.
O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles) – English Lyrics
1. O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant!
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him born the King of Angels:
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
2. God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God, Begotten, not created: (Refrain)
3. Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of Heaven above!
Glory to God in the highest: (Refrain)
4. Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given!
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing! (Refrain)
5. See how the shepherds,
summoned to His cradle,
leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze.
We too will thither
bend our hearts’ oblations; (Refrain)
6. There shall we see Him, His eternal Father’s
everlasting brightness now veiled under flesh.
God shall we find there, a Babe in infant clothing; (Refrain)
7. Child, for us sinners,
poor and in the manger,
we would embrace Thee, with love and awe.
Who would not love Thee, loving us so dearly? (Refrain)
8. Lo! Star-led chieftains,
Magi, Christ adoring,
offer Him frankincense, gold, and myrrh.
We to the Christ-child, bring our hearts oblations; (Refrain)
Adeste Fideles – Latin Lyrics
1. Adeste Fideles laeti triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte, Regem Angelorum;
2. Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine,
gestant puellae viscera.
Deum verum, genitum non factum; (Refrain)
3. Cantet nunc io chorus Angelorum
cantet nunc aula caelestium:
Gloria in excelsis Deo! (Refrain)
4. Ergo qui natus, die hodierna,
Jesu, tibi sit gloria.
Patris aeterni Verbum caro factum; (Refrain)
5. En grege relicto, Humiles ad cunas,
vocati pastores approperant.
Et nos ovanti gradu festinemus; (Refrain)
6. Aeterni Parentis splendorem aeternum,
velatum sub carne videbimus.
Deum infantem, pannis involutum; (Refrain)
7. Pro nobis egenum et foeno cubantem,
piis foveamus amplexibus.
Sic nos anamtem quis non redamaret? (Refrain)
8. Stella duce, Magi, Christum adorantes,
aurum, thus, et myrrham dant munera.
Jesu infanti corda praebeamus; (Refrain)
Let’s See You Live It!
I would love to see how your family does this. It is so inspiring to others, too. Send me an email or tag me on social media @kindlingwild and I’ll be sure to share!
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