From Father's Desk

Dear OLPH,

Epiphany means manifestation, showing forth. In this case, it signifies a window into the divinity of Christ, which can also be called Theophany: showing forth of God. Sometimes we call today the feast of the Three Kings, or the Magi. The Magi are a mystery. From the East, these wise men -- probably astronomers -- followed the stars. They are the first clear indication that Jesus was not sent for the Jewish people alone, but for all peoples. Their names have been passed on to us: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. With their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, they recognize symbolically who Jesus is: gold for his kingship, frankincense for his priesthood, and myrrh for his sacrifice and burial. Hence theophany: the divinity of Christ is revealed in the presence and gifts of these visitors from afar.

Today, we commemorate the visit of Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar to the Holy Family. We also have a custom of blessing houses on this day, since these wise men blessed the Holy Family with their presence and presents. Yet another meaning of the C + M + B has emerged through the years: Christus Mansionem Benedicat : “May Christ bless the house.” Today I share with you a prayer service you can celebrate in family to commemorate the feast and to bless your homes:

A piece of chalk is blessed with holy water. The head of household writes the inscription on the lintel above the main doorway of the home:

20 + C + M + B + 19

Leader: O Triune God, may the intercessions of Blessed Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, and of all the Saints (mention any particular family patron saints), make our prayers acceptable to You. For today, we come before you to dedicate this home to Your service.

All: How good and pleasant it is, when all live together in unity (Cf. Psalm 133)

Leader: O Heavenly Father, You wish to come and dwell among Your people on earth, both individually and communally. Build us up into a holy edifice, that we may be one in Your service. Grant that we may become a temple made up of living stones, with the truths of our faith as the foundation, and Your Son, Jesus, as our cornerstone.

All: How good and pleasant it is, when all live together in unity (Cf. Psalm 133)

Leader: Lord Jesus Christ, you lived in the home of Martha and Mary, and blessed them by Your Presence. Come to our home, too, and make it a dwelling place of Your mercy and peace. Grant that we who abide here may serve You in spirit and in truth, and grow together in an ever-deepening love.

All: How good and pleasant it is, when all live together in unity (Cf. Psalm 133)

Leader: Holy Spirit, give to those who pass through the doorways of this home a knowledge of Your Presence within their hearts. Bless their coming and going. Watch over them, wherever they journey. Guard them, and guide them, in all their words and actions. Give them yearning hearts of the Wise Kings who came to Bethlehem, so that they may be always on the watch for Your star to guide them.

All: How good and pleasant it is, when all live together in unity (Cf. Psalm 133)

Leader: May the Divine Presence come down upon this dwelling (sprinkle holy water around the room/home) to sanctify all that is here. May this saving water cleanse us of our sins and failings, and restore us to wholeness, so that now and in the days to come, we may celebrate the mercies of the Lord.

All: Amen.

Leader: O Holy Trinity, in simplicity of heart we have joyfully offered our home and our lives to You. In expectation and delight, we look forward to having You dwell with us, each day of the year.

All: Amen! Amen! Amen!

(Adapted from Catherine Doherty, Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas , pp. 91-4)