Several years ago, when I first started to tiptoe back into my faith, I read an article about the Epiphany door blessing. I loved the idea of declaring my faith in a cryptic kind of way. I remember climbing on a chair in my first apartment and chalking the letters and numbers on my door. At that time, it was my first “bold” declaration that I was Catholic.
The point of the Epiphany blessing over your door is exactly what you might think it is: to bless your house and everyone who enters it. It’s a centuries-old tradition (less common in the United States) that started shortly around the end of the middle ages. Priests would traditionally visit the members of their parish after the Feast of the Epiphany and bless their homes. As parishes grew, the responsibility was transferred over to household members.
The Epiphany blessing is a simple blessing written on your door as follows: the first two digits of the year + C + M + B + the last two digits of the new year. So, today, it would look like this: 20 + C + M + B + 20.
The C M B serves two meanings:
- The initials of the wise men.
- The first letters of the Latin phrase: Christus mansionem benedicat (May Christ bless the house).
I carried the tradition into my marriage and family life and we have done it every year — except for when we had a full kitchen/main floor renovation that we thought would be excellent to do over the holidays (we’re not smart). When 2018 rolled around, we had intentions of doing the blessing, but we had contractors still working on our house who kept mentioning that we needed a new door because someone wrote on the old one. I told them that it was a ritualistic prayer that cursed any contractor who didn’t finish our remodel correctly and in a timely manner.
We kept the door and the tradition, and my two oldest kids are now able to participate in writing the letters and numbers and reading the prayer we choose to bless the door. They also engage in a discussion about how we can celebrate God’s gifts every day of every year. So, it’s appropriate that on the day the three wise men brought gifts to Jesus, we are also showing that we welcome Christ’s gifts into our home. Because who doesn’t like presents?
So, what do I need?
Chalk (extra bonus points if blessed by a priest).
What do I do/say?
Make the sign of the cross and sprinkle some holy water on the door. Then, recite a simple prayer like this:
“Loving God, bless this household and all who enter. May we, and they, be blessed with health, goodness of heart, gentleness, and seek to do your will. We ask this through Christ our Saviour. Amen.”
You can also Google “Epiphany prayers” for more ideas.
How long is this going to take?
Maybe 10 minutes, if that; unless you have more than one child — it will take longer if everyone wants a turn writing with the chalk. I recommend blessing the amount of doors per children you have, it really cuts down on the arguing. (No one wants to wait until next year for a turn. They already have to do that with the Christmas tree angel.)
Anything else I need to know?
For best results, chalk as soon as possible on the feast of the Epiphany for the freshest blessing.
This blessing is really a proclamation to anyone who comes by that your home is a home for Christ and your family continues to serve God outside of Mass. It’s also a conversation starter (or stopper if you were working on my kitchen in 2017). Almost everyone asks what it is and why we have it. We recently educated a window salesman on the door blessing. Long story short, he left saying he might do it next year and we didn’t have to buy any windows.
Mostly, it’s comforting to know that our entire home reflects the presence of Christ’s love, and since we have four kids and four doors, everyone gets a turn.
You cannot enter this house without being blessed.
Contractors be warned.