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VIDEO | The epiphany – tradition to bless one’s home | By Rev. Kevin Harmon

West Bend, WI – Sunday, January 7, 2024 is the Epiphany of the Lord. At parishes across Washington County, WI. The epiphany is the traditional time of the year to bless one’s home.
. Customarily this is done with chalk, a prayer, and a phrase written above the door.
epiphany
This year the phrase will be 20 + C + M + B + 24. The 20 and 24 are the year (2024). The ‘+’ sign recalls the Cross.

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The CMB stand for two things. First, they stand for Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. Tradition states that these were the names of the three Magi. Another interpretation is that CMB is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase Christus mansionem Benedicat which means ‘May Christ bless this house.’

 

The spiritual significance of this chalking and blessing is manifold. First, by placing the chalking above the entrance one is asking God to enter into one’s home and dwell there.

Likewise, one is asking God to ‘stand guard’ at the entrance and to protect the inhabitants. One may also be reminded of the command which God gave to Moses and Aaron to spread the blood of the lamb over the doorposts of the houses of the Israelites for protection.

Secondly, there is an understanding in the tradition of the Church that after the Fall, through Adam being conquered by Satan’s temptation and by sin, Satan had been able to gain a foothold in the material world.

Christ came into the world to drive out Satan and to renew the material world. Therefore, blessing objects is a way to snatch created objects from the kingdom of Satan and set them apart for Christ.

Chalk from 2023 blessing at St. Frances Cabrini

Our home, as the center of our family lives and a microcosm of the Church, is one place which we want to be set apart for the worship of God and to be placed under his protection.

If Satan is able to weasel his way into our homes, he can cause a plethora of trouble. Hence, we have this admirable tradition of blessing our homes on a yearly basis. Back in the day, priests would try to make the rounds and bless the homes of all their parishioners.

This is now time prohibitive.

Therefore, the chalking of the door is often done by the head of the house. Parishioners are asked to take a bag which has blessed chalk, a prayer, and instructions for how to chalk the door (above the main entrance of the home is the most suitable place for the chalking but any door will suffice).

I pray that all of you and your homes may be blessed throughout this upcoming year.

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