Carmelites and the Feast of the Epiphany
By Steve Taranovich
Every year the Carmelite Pre-novitiate Community at Carith House in Chicago on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 1, blesses their home. I would invite you to adopt this custom in your family.
On the Feast of the Epiphany, the family gathers to ask God’s blessing on their home and on 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 to do this is to take some ordinary chalk, like that which we used as a child, and write the following above your home’s entrance. It can also be written somewhere inside the home:
+20 C M B 18+
What does this stand for?
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 2018 is the year.
This image is just an example of how you can do this outside your front door. This is what I have atop my door for 2018. I can’t use chalk here, but you can either write the symbols or print them out like I did here.
Here’s a suggested format for the blessing and the marking of the symbols that you can do over the front door to your home:
All make the Sign of the Cross.
Leader: “Peace be to this house and to all who dwell here, in the name of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.
Reader: When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.
The word of the Lord.
ALL: Thanks be to God
Now, using the chalk, write on the outside of your house or inside above the front main entrance, above or next to an entrance:
+20 C M B 18+
All: 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 live here and all who visit. May we be blessed with health, kindness of heart, gentleness and the keeping of your law. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our love for each other may go out to all. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
P.S. My wife, Loretta grew up in Italy, and she still has a similar custom that Italian people in Italy follow; that is, to take a Christmas card sent to them with the images of the Magi and place it over their front door on January 1 and keep it there all year. We put that on the inside of our door.December 31, 2017