Blessing a home recognizes God's goodness in providing for us a home to live in, invites God to be present within our home, and dedicates our home to God. A blessing isn't a magic formula that makes our homes holy; our homes become holy because of how we act inside them. Rather, it asks for God's protection over the mind, body, and soul of those who live there. This kind of blessings bestows what the Church calls actual grace — the divine energy which the soul needs in the countless emergencies and difficulties of our daily struggle with the devil, sin, and our own fallen nature.* Having our home blessed helps draw us closer to God, to Whom it is dedicated; and acknowledges that our home does more than just benefit our bodies by providing the tangible things like warmth, heat, shelter, etc. A blessed home can benefit our souls as well.
The Feast of the Epiphany has, for centuries, been a traditional time for families to bless their homes. This tradition likely came about because the Three Wise Men visited the home that the Holy Family had established in Bethlehem (before the flight to Egypt - after which they settled in Nazareth). The visit from the Wise Men blessed the home of the Holy Family because they came in humility to honor and pay homage to the Christ Child and because they were the first to not only seek Jesus, but also to recognize Him as the Messiah. The Epiphany home blessing tradition has been more popular in Europe than in the US, but many American Catholics have taken up the practice as well.
What you'll need:
- Blessed Chalk**
- Your Home
- A person with spiritual authority over your home to lead***
- Incense (optional - frankincense would be ideal!)
How to do it:
- If you are choosing to use it, light the incense as a reminder of the gifts offered by the Three Wise Men.
- The leader should say the blessing. There are a variety of Epiphany home blessing ritual prayers available (here, here and here). Choose whichever one you like.
- Once the prayer is complete, the leader should use the chalk to write the following on the door (or door frame or lintel):
20 + C + M + B + 15
The three letters stand for the three kings who were traditionally known as Caspar, Melchoir, and Baltassar. (The initials, C, M, B, can also be interpreted as the Latin phrase "Christus mansionem benedicat" which means "Christ bless this house".) The numbers are for the year.
- Go through the home and write the blessing formula over each door within the home - especially the threshold, the dining room, and the bedrooms.
- Gather as a family and discuss ways that you can seek and recognize God's presence in your family and your home throughout the coming year!
* from: The Priestly Power to Bless by Ernest Graf, O.S.B.
** Chalk is customarily blessed on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany. Your parish (or another parish in town) may provide blessed chalk after Masses this weekend. If not, you can always ask a priest to bless some chalk. The blessing can be found here.
*** Just as there is a spiritual hierarchy within the heavens (choirs of angels) and a spiritual hierarchy within the Church, there is a spiritual hierarchy within your home. Top down it would be: A priest or deacon of the parish you belong to, another priest or deacon, the father of the home, the mother of the home.