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What is the Epiphany and what is the Epiphany blessing?

What is the Epiphany and what is the Epiphany blessing?

Antonio Vivarini, “Adoration of the Magi,” c. 1446 (photo: Public Domain)

Catechism of the Catholic Church

528 – The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation.

 

 

Epiphany Blessing

In years past, priests would often visit their parishioners during the Christmas season to bless their homes. Since this is virtually impossible for most priests today, someone in the family–ideally the father or head of household–sprinkles holy water in each room of the house and says a blessing prayer, such as this one:

 

Bless, O Lord, almighty God, this home so that in it there may be health, chastity, victorious strength, humility, goodness and mildness, obedience to God’s laws and acts of thanks to God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and may this Blessing remain upon this house and upon all who dwell in it. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

 

Normally, the house blessing is coupled with the blessing of the doorway. Some churches will provide parishioners with blessed chalk after the Epiphany Masses. Otherwise, the faithful can bring chalk to their parish, asking the priest to bless it.

With the blessed chalk, the priest or head of the household writes the year and the initials CMB above the door as illustrated for 2022:

 

20+C+M+B+22

 

The initials have two meanings. Historically, they refer to the names traditionally attributed to the Magi, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. Spiritually, they refer to the blessing itself, represented by the Latin prayer: “Christus mansionem benedicat” (May Christ bless this house); the crosses recalling our salvation in Christ.

 

Where is Epiphany in the Bible?

 

Matthew 2:1-12

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet:

‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

 

Old Testament prophecies concerning the Epiphany:

 

Isaiah 60:6

“A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.”
And in the Psalms,

 

Psalm 72:10–11

“May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!”

 

For more on Epiphany click here

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