Sunday, January 5, 2014

Epiphany Blessing

Do you bless your home on Epiphany?  
We began doing it some years back after being encouraged by the priest at the parish we then attended.   We normally use the blessing from the USCCB's Catholic Household Blessing and Prayers.  

Epiphany House Blessing:

When all have gathered, a suitable song may be sung. The leader makes the sign of the cross, and all reply, “Amen.”

Leader: Let us praise God, who fills our hearts and homes with peace.
Blessed be God forever.
All: Blessed be God forever.
In the following or similar words, the leader prepares those present for the blessing:
Leader: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling place among us. It is Christ who enlightens our hearts and homes with his love. May all who enter this home find Christ’s light and love.

One of those present or the leader reads a text of sacred Scripture, for example, Luke 19:1-9:

Listen to the words of the holy Gospel according to Luke:
Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.”
The intercessions are then said:
Leader: The Son of God made his home among us. With thanks and praise let us call upon him.
All: Stay with us, Lord.
Leader: Lord Jesus Christ, with Mary and Joseph you formed the Holy Family: remain in our home, that we may know you as our guest and honor you as our Head.
We pray:
All: Stay with us, Lord.

Leader: Lord Jesus Christ, you had no place to lay your head, but in the spirit of poverty accepted the hospitality of your friends: grant that through our help the homeless may obtain proper
housing.
We pray:
All: Stay with us, Lord.

Leader: Lord Jesus Christ, the three kings presented their gifts to you in praise and adoration: grant that those living in this house may use their talents and abilities to your greater glory.
We pray:
All: Stay with us, Lord.

Leader: Let us pray together the words our Savior gave us
(Join hands.)
All: Our Father...

Leader: 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 inhabit it.
Fill them (us) with the light of Christ,
that their (our) concern for others may reflect your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.
The leader concludes the rite by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross and saying:
May Christ Jesus dwell with us,
keep us from all harm,
and make us one in mind and heart,
now and forever.
All: Amen.
It is preferable to end the celebration with a suitable song, for example, “O Come, All Ye Faithful” or “We Three Kings.”
(p.s. We'll probably use Matthew 2:1-12 as our Scripture.)

At this point we go from room to room and Brian uses the Epiphany water that we got that very first year we did this (yes, it's old and we need some new stuff!) and we bless each room of the house while singing all the verses from We Three Kings.  We do also have incense we use in the small (toy) censer from the Mass set (the set is a bit different and much more expensive now than when we first got it).  When finished we'll use the blessed chalk (also from way back when...) to write the insignia above the main doorway:
20+C+M+B+14
which are the initials of the magi within the year of our Lord.  The initials C, M, B can also be read as the Latin "Christus mansionem benedicat" or "Christ bless this house".

If you don't have special Epiphany water or chalk (this tradition has been lost in many areas and parishes), then by all means use "regular" holy water and chalk!  Brian will also use some of our blessed salt around the outside of the house.  It's our way of setting apart our house and home for God.  A visible concrete reminder to us as well as an outward sign to plead for God's grace and protection during this new year.  I encourage you to do it!  Our little observance here in our home certainly isn't perfect but I think God still likes it and is still willing to pour down His grace :)
Before Mass this morning we will put the magi into the stables of our nativity sets.  After Mass the boys will also find a new book for each of them under the tree, our way of helping them grow in wisdom and seeking Christ just like the magi.  Later this evening I'm excited we get to have some friends over that we haven't seen in a while for an Epiphany feast.

(from last year and yes, they were in pajamas :) 




Happy Epiphany!




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5 comments:

  1. We have done this before, and I somehow forgot this beautiful ritual, thank you for the reminder!

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  2. Thank you so much for posting this! My husband and I did this for the first time this year (I am a new catholic convert as of April 2013)! I remember reading about this tradition a while back and had some resources bookmarked on my computer, but I had forgotten until you reminded me!

    By the way, this might be my first time posting on your blog (I'm not sure, it's been a long time since I've started reading it). I have been following you since April and have been so enlightened by reading your blog! I'm learning a lot, and I particularly enjoyed your advent series this past season! You post with such honesty, and I really appreciate that.

    Thank you for sharing!
    Hannah

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    1. Oh, thank you, Hannah! You just made my day :)

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  3. We do this in the Orthodox church for the feast of Theophany (which is celebrated the same time as Epiphany) and we do this. The priest comes to your house and does it though, using water which was blessed for the feast and distributed to the people during Liturgy. We follow him around the house as he blesses each room while we all sing the Troparion hymn for Theophany. There is a small memorial offered for deceased family members and a blessing for the living family members as well that follows. Blessing your house is such a great way to end the Christmas feast and start off the new year! Oh, I love your tradition of adding the Magi to the manager scene at the time. What a good idea!

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    1. That would be so awesome to have a priest come and do it! I wish our priests weren't so booked because I would love to do it like that. Maybe someday we'll have a priest in the family so I wouldn't feel so guilty asking :) It sounds beautiful. The Orthodox have such a sense for the ancient and beautiful and can teach us westerners so much!

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