Chalk the Door for the Three Magi

Three magiA tradition of Epiphany invokes the Magi’s blessing upon the household that hosts the party. Guests typically read a brief, responsive liturgy that includes the biblical account of the Magi’s visit and then “chalk the door” with a series of marks.

The markings include letters, numbers, and crosses in a pattern like this:
20 † C † M † B † 14
The numbers correspond to the calendar year (20 and 14, for instance, for the year 2014); the crosses stand for Christ; and the letters have a two-fold significance: C, M, and B are the initials for the traditional names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar), but they are also an abbreviation of the Latin blessing, Christus mansionem benedicat, which means, “May Christ bless this house.”
I have copied a format for this prayer that you can do together as a family at home to celebrate Epiphany.
Peace be with this house and all who dwell in it, and peace to all who enter here. In keeping the feast of Epiphany, we celebrate the Magi’s search for the infant king, the Christ child’s appearing to the world, and the peace and hospitality shared between the Magi and the Holy Family.
Let us hear again the Magi’s story:
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him,
“In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

This is the word of the Lord.

 

Thanks be to God.
(Participants now take turns using the chalk to make part of the Magi’s blessing on the inside lintel of the front door: )
May this home in the coming year be a place where Christ is pleased to dwell.
May all our homes share the peace and hospitality of Christ
which is revealed in the fragile flesh of an infant. Amen.

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