This weekend we will be giving out blessed chalk and instructions so you can bless your homes! Each year around the feast of the Epiphany, many parishes throughout the world participate in an annual blessing of chalk. It is an ancient tradition that not only places God at the entrance of your home, it places your entire family under his protection.
A traditional way of blessing your home for Epiphany is to use chalk to write above the home’s entrance, for instance, “20 + C + M + B + 22.” The numbers, combined, should be the current year. The letters C, M, and B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. They are also the first letters of the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless this house.” The “+” signs represent the cross.
There are several different blessings you can use. We are sharing instructions for the blessing used by many Carmelite orders.
If you miss out on receiving blessed chalk at Mass, your head of the household can do it at home using the following blessing:
LEADER: Our help is the name of the Lord:
ALL: The maker of heaven and earth.
LEADER: The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in:
ALL: From this time forth for evermore.
LEADER: Let us pray.
ALL: Loving God, bless this chalk which you have created, that it may be helpful to your people; and grant that through the invocation of your most Holy Name that we who use it in faith to write upon the door of our home the names of your holy ones Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, may receive health of body and protection of soul for all who dwell in or visit our home; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Using the blessed chalk, you then mark the lintel of your front door (or front porch step) as follows:
20 + C + M + B + 22
ALL: The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar followed the star of God’s Son who became human two thousand and twenty-two years ago. May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen.
Then offer the following prayer:
LEADER: Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here with the gift of your love; and grant that we may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives we touch. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen us in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and forever.
Because the chalk is blessed, it shouldn’t be kept with all the other chalk. You can put it away to use again next year (I keep mine in an envelope with all of our Christmas decor, so it’s ready next Epiphany!) or bury it in the yard.
For more on the history of this tradition and an alternate blessing, check out this article.
Much of this text is adapted from The Catholic All Year Compendium by Kendra Tierney. Used with permission.