Feast of the Epiphany–The Annual House Blessing



(picture courtesy of Fr. John Trigilio’s blog)

*Many local parishes will provide the faithful with blessed chalk and incense. If your parish does not offer this, approach your priest (pester him if you have to!) and ask him to bless a piece of chalk for this traditional house blessing and devotion.

The family gathers around the crib with lighted candles and recites the following prayers.

All: A Child is born in Bethlehem, alleluia!
Full joyous sings Jerusalem, alleluia, alleluia!
From Orient, behold the star, alleluia,
And holy kings come from afar, alleluia

The father reads the Gospel for the Feast of the Epiphany,
St. Matthew 2:1-12
After the Gospel is read the following antiphon is recited.

All: From the East came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures, they offered costly gifts: gold to the Great King, incense to the true God, and myrrh as a symbol of His burial, alleluia!

After the above antiphon is recited, the father sprinkles the rooms of the house with Epiphany water or holy water, incense may be burned (a charcoal is lit and grains of incense are placed on the burning coal. Care is to be exercised with the hot coal.) The rest of the family recites the Canticle of Mary, the Magnificat. Make the Sign of the Cross as you begin the canticle.

The Magnificat
My soul + magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
Because He has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid, for behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed,
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me,
[All bow at this phrase] and Holy is His Name;
And His mercy is from generation to generation toward those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones and has exalted the lowly.
The hungry He has filled with good things and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel his servant, mindful of His mercy–
As He promised our fathers toward Abraham and his descendants forever.
[All bow] Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

All: From the East came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures, they offered costly gifts: gold to the Great King, incense to the true God, and myrrh as a symbol of His burial, alleluia!

Father: Many shall come from Saba.

All: Bearing gold and incense.

Father: O Lord, hear my prayer.

All: And let my cry come unto Thee.

Father: Let us pray. O God who by the guidance of a star did this day reveal Thine Only-Begotten Son to the Gentiles, grant that we who know Thee by faith may be brought to the contemplation of the heavenly majesty. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

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

Father: Nations shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brilliance of thy rising.

All: And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

Father: Let us pray. O Lord, Almighty God, bless this house that it may become a shelter of health, chastity, self-conquest, humility, goodness, mildness, obedience to the Commandments, and thanksgiving to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Upon this house and those who dwell herein may Thy blessing remain forever. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

With the blessed chalk, the lintels above the door are marked with the initials of the Three Kings and with crosses. We use the form below:

Father: Let us pray. O Lord God, through the power of the priest, Thou did bless this chalk to make it helpful to man. Grant that we who use it with faith and inscribe with it the names of Thy saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar upon the entrance of our homes, may through their merits and petition enjoy physical health and spiritual protection. Through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

The initials of the names of the Magi are inscribed separated by crosses and the year above the main door in this manner.

20 + C + M + B + (last numbers of the present year)

We Three Kings may be sung now.

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

Refrain: O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav’n replies

This article, Feast of the Epiphany–The Annual House Blessing is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

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John M. DeJak

John M. DeJak is an attorney and Latin teacher and works in academic administration. He writes from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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