Visit the Shop at

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy Epiphany! - Chalking the Door

By J.-H. Janßen (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Happy Epiphany!  Today the 12 days of Christmas draw to a close, and we celebrate the proclamation of our Savior Jesus Christ to the world. The three Magi will kneel before the Christ Child tonight, representing the all corners of the world. He is the Savior for all people.

The Epiphany is traditionally a time for the blessings of homes accompanied by holy water, incense, and prayer. The chalking of doors is a significant part of this tradition. Harkening back to the Israelites' marking of their doors with blood so that their homes would be passed over, this practice involves the marking of the doors of Christians to invite the presence and blessing of Our Lord.

A priest may preside over this liturgy, but it is not necessary. The father, or head, of the household may do so. In some families, the person who found the bean or baby in the king cake has the honor of doing so.

Various elements go into the sacred markings placed above the door.  The marking for this year is:
20 + C + M + B+ 13

The meanings are:
20 = First digits of 2013
C = Caspar
M = Melchior
B = Balthazar
13 = Last digits of 2013

Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar are names of the three Magi handed down from ancient tradition. An alternative meaning for "C + M + B" is Christus Mansionum Benedicat ~ May Christ Bless This Dwelling.

By Nina-no (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5
 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Chalking is done with garden variety chalk board chalk or sidewalk chalk. The markings will gradually fade, and will completely gone by next Epiphany.  They will serve as a reminder to all who pass under them, that the home being entered is dedicated to, and blessed by, Our Lord.

A Liturgy for the Chalking of Your Door
from Paul Bosch & André Lavergne via the Lift Up Your Hearts web site
    On the Epiphany of Our Lord, January 6, family and friends (C for "community") gather at the main entrances to homes or apartments (nursing home quarters, extended care facility, hospital rooms!), and ask God's blessing on their dwellings and on all who live or visit there.
    Leadership may be shared with a change of voice at each Leader's part (L).
    L     Peace be to this house and to all who enter here.
    L     A reading from Proverbs: "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures."
    L     Let us pray: Gracious God, as a shining star once guided the magi to the birthplace of the infant Jesus, so enable those who dwell here to be your light in the world; through Jesus Christ we pray.
    C     Amen.
    Using chalk (hence, "Chalking the Door"), people are invited to inscribe the lintel of the home (the horizontal frame above the door) with the inscription shown below. The letters C M B come from the traditional (9th century) names for the "three kings" -- Caspar, Melchior & Balthazar. Some also suggest "Christus Mansionem Benedicat" which means "May Christ bless this dwelling!"
    Each person is afforded a turn to make one or more of the marks:

    20 + C + M + B + 13

    L     A reading from Isaiah: "The effect of righteousness is peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and quiet places."
    People may join hands or extend their hands outward and upward (orans) for the prayers.
    L     Let us pray: Sovereign God, we pray that you will bless this home and all who live here with your gracious presence, that your love may be our inspiration, your wisdom our guide, your truth our light, and your peace our benediction; through Jesus Christ we pray.
    C     Amen.
    L     Lord, remember your children and teach us to pray:
    C     Our Father...
    People may make the sign of the cross in remembrance of their baptism.
    L     May the Lord watch + over our going out and our coming in, from this time forth and forevermore.
    C     Amen.

+ + +

Some additional liturgies for the chalking of your door:
Lutheran Church of Canada
Baylor University (Scroll down to Litany of the Magi's Blessing at the end of the document.)
United Methodist Church
Ars Orandi

Pax Christi dear ones,
May Our Lord bless your homes and all who dwell in them throughout 2013,
You may also like:

Linked with:
Blogs on the Blog Hops page.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Welcome! We love to hear from you. You are embraced here in Christian charity.Your comment will not show up immediately. Rest assured that is has been received and will be published soon.

Pax Christi!