Mass readings for January 4, 2009.
Today marks the Church's Feast of the Epiphany. The word Epiphany means manifestation or revealing, usually indicating a sudden revelation or understanding. Epiphany is usually celebrated on the 12th day of Christmas, but here in the United States the feast is commuted to the nearest Sunday and can be celebrated anytime between January 2 and January 8. For the best detailed information regarding Epiphany check out this article at New Advent.
One of the many traditions associated with this feast day that our family enjoys is the Epiphany Blessing of the front door of the house. Along with the following form of prayers the father of the family inscribes +20 C+M+B 09+ on the lintel of the door using blessed chalk (you may have to ask your local priest to bless a piece of chalk for you. You can find the form for the blessing here). The letters have a dual meaning. One represents the traditional names for the three wise kings: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthassar. The second represents the latin: Christus mansionem benedicat or May Christ Bless the house. The numbers on either end represent the year.
Here is the form for the blessing as handed out at our parish. You can find other forms online as well.
All gather at the principal door of the home. The father of the family, or in his absence, the mother leads the family in the following prayers.
Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Leader: O Lord, hear our prayer.
All: And let our cry come unto you.
Leader: Let us pray.
Father, you revealed Your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star. Lead us to your glory in heaven by the light of faith. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The father says the following:
Through the intercession of the Three Holy Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthassar, may almighty God watch over this house and all who dwell in it, throughout the year 2009.
He then makes the inscription: +20 C+M+B 09+ on the lintel above the door with the blessed chalk.
Leader: Let us pray in the words our Savior taught us.
All: Our Father. . .
Leader: May almighty God bless us, defend our home from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.
(The inscription may be repeated over other doors in the home if desired)