The Feast the Epiphany

01-07-2024Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As intentional disciples of Our Lord Jesus, we know there is a cost as we live our faith. Like the Magi, true disciples know in their hearts that giving our life to Christ includes the cross. Living the faith changes us and moves us closer to the kingdom. True faith invites us into an intentional relationship with Jesus Christ… a relationship that includes doing the will of God. Many faithful Catholics know too well that Jesus invites His followers to humbly “take up their cross” and follow Him.

The Magi are moved by the King of Kings, Prince of Peace, the Christ Child, to offer Him gifts. These gifts include gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They are reminders that true faith comes with a cost. Msgr. Charles Pope offers this beautiful reflection of what each gift from the Magi represents.

Gold symbolizes all of our possessions. In laying this gift before Jesus, they and we are saying, “I acknowledge that everything I have is yours. I put all my resources and wealth under your authority and will use them only according to your will.” A conversion that has not reached the wallet is not complete.

Frankincense is a resin used in incense and symbolizes the gift of worship. In the Bible, incense is a symbol of prayer and worship (e.g., Psalm 141). In laying down this gift, we promise to pray and worship God all the days of our life, to be in His holy house each Sunday, to render Him the praise and worship He is due, to listen to His word and consent to be fed the Eucharist by Him, to worship Him worthily by frequent confession, and to praise Him at all times.

Myrrh is a strange gift for an infant; it is usually understood as a burial ointment. Surely this prefigures Jesus’ death, but it also symbolizes our own. In laying this gift before Jesus we are saying, “My life is yours. I want to die so that you may live your life in me. May you increase and may I decrease. Use me and my life as you will.”

As God called the Magi, so too, God calls the entire world to “do Him homage”. Like the Magi, we are invited by the newborn King to come and to “prostrate” ourselves before Jesus and do Him homage. We too are invited to fall down in worship and adore Him bringing the gift of our very lives.

One of the great Christmas traditions of the Church is to bless one’s house to start a new year. “Chalking the door” is a centuries-old custom in which Christians gather on the feast of the Epiphany to ask God’s blessing on their home. A traditional way of doing this is to take a piece of blessed chalk and inscribe above the entrance door to the home the following: The “20” and “24” refer to the actual date. The “+” between the letters symbolize the cross of Christ. The “C M B ” initials have two meanings: 1) The initials of the three magi: Caspar, Melchoir and Balthazar, the three wise kings or Magi who visited the Christ Child. 2) This is the abbreviated Latin phrase, Christus mansion benedicat, which translates as “May Christ bless the house.”

This inscription is performed as a request that Christ bless the home and that He stay with those who dwell and visit it as well. The timing for the chalking of the doors varies somewhat in practice. In some places, it is done on New Year’s Day. More commonly, it is performed on the Feast of the Epiphany — the Twelfth Day of Christmas. The blessing can be performed simply by just writing the inscription and offering a short prayer, or more elaborately, including songs, prayers, processions, the burning of incense, and the sprinkling of holy water.

House Blessing/Prayer

Prayer: On entering the home,

Leader: (Priest, if present, or father/household leader of the family): Peace be to this house.

All: And to all who dwell herein.

All: From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.

All Pray: The Magnificat. During the Magnificat, the room is sprinkled with holy water and incensed. After this is completed...

All: From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.

All: Our Father. . . Leader: All they from Saba shall come

All: Bringing gold and frankincense.

Leader: O Lord, hear my prayer.

All: And let my cry come to You.

Leader: Let us pray. O God, who by the guidance of a star didst on this day manifest Thine only- begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we who know Thee by faith may also attain the vision of Thy glorious majesty. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Leader: Be enlightened, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee—Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.

All: And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light and kings in the splendor of thy rising, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.

Leader: Let us pray. Bless, + O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of Thy law, the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. May this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

After the prayers of the blessing are recited, each room of the home is sprinkled with Epiphany water and incensed. The initials of the Magi are inscribed upon the doors with the blessed chalk. (The initials, C, M, B, can also be interpreted as the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat” which means “Christ bless this house”.)

God Bless,

Fr. Don Kline, V.F.