Did You Know ?

2021.01.06

Epiphany Tradition

 

After our Epiphany Service, Fr. Scott introduced us to the old Anglican Tradition of Blessing Chalk.   Each member takes a piece of blessed chalk home and writes a specific Epiphany blessing on the door post of their house.  The blessing includes the year, the initial of each of the wise men, and crosses as pictured below.

From:   Pastoral Ministration of the Priest

                  Compiled by The Rev'd Dr. Matthew S. C. Olver, 3 rd edition, 2019

The History and Meaning of Epiphany Chalk

"Epiphany is the traditional season for the blessing of homes.  And it is customary, especially in Central Europe, for the faithful to bless their houses at the Epiphany with blessed chalk, since the priest could not get to every home.  They write over their front door:  20+C+M+B+21.

  • The digits, which appear at the beginning and end of the line, designate the new year.

  • The crosses represent the protection of the greatest gift of Christ's sacrifice, as well as the holiness of the Three Magi who were sanctified by their adoration of the Infant Christ.

  • The letters 'CMB' have two meanings:  they are the initials of the traditional names of the Three Magi - Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar - and the also abbreviate the Latin prayer Christus mansionem benedicat, which means "May Christ bless this house."

  • The inscription is made of chalk, a product of clay, which recalls the human nature taken by Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

The inscription is made above the front door or porch, so that all who enter and depart the home may be reminded of the Lord and His blessing which has been invoked over the house.  It also provides a very public witness to the Faith.  The month of January still bears the name of the Roman god Janus, whom  the Romans said was the doorkeeper of heaven and protector of the beginning and end of thins.  This blessing was a way to "Christen" the page observance of the first month.  The Church has traditionally interpreted the gifts of the Magi as symbols of Christ's Kingship (gold), His Divinity (frankincense because it was used for worship in the temple) and His coming death on the cross (myrrh was used in the burial of the dead)."

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