Friday, January 06, 2012

Christus Mansionem Benedicat!

The Blessing of the Entrance to the House (aka “Chalking the Door”)

At the Mass for the Day, the faithful are given chalk that has been blessed by the priest, as well as special holy water known as "Epiphany water." The blessing for it, which takes place only for this occasion, includes a prayer of exorcism. The blessed chalk and the holy water are then taken home, to be used that evening.

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We begin with the Sign of the Cross, and the words of Psalm 71(72) "Deus, judicium":

Give the King your justice, O God, *
    and your righteousness to the King's son;

That he may rule your people righteously *
    and the poor with justice.

That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people, *
    and the little hills bring righteousness.

He shall defend the needy among the people; *
    he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

He shall live as long as the sun and moon endure, *
    from one generation to another.

He shall come down like rain upon the mown field, *
    like showers that water the earth.

In his time shall the righteous flourish; *
    there shall be abundance of peace
        till the moon shall be no more.

He shall rule from sea to sea, *
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.

His foes shall bow down before him, *
    and his enemies lick the dust.

The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute, *
    and the kings of Arabia and Saba offer gifts.

All kings shall bow down before him, *
    and all the nations do him service.

For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, *
    and the oppressed who has no helper.

He shall have pity on the lowly and poor; *
    he shall preserve the lives of the needy.

He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence, *
    and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

Long may he live!
    and may there be given to him gold from Arabia; *
        may prayer be made for him always,
            and may they bless him all the day long.

May there be abundance of grain on the earth,
    growing thick even on the hilltops; *
        may its fruit flourish like Lebanon,
            and its grain like grass upon the earth.

May his Name remain for ever
    and be established as long as the sun endures; *
        may all the nations bless themselves in him
            and call him blessed.

Blessed be the Lord GOD, the God of Israel, *
    who alone does wondrous deeds!

And blessed be his glorious Name for ever! *
    and may all the earth be filled with his glory.


Then one who is the Officiant says the prayer of blessing, while sprinkling holy water over the door.

Lord God of Heaven and Earth, who hast revealed thine only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star: Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill them with the light of Christ, that their love for others may truly reflect thy love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

If necessary, the Officiant or another steps up onto a chair or stepladder, and with a piece of blessed chalk, writes over the entrance to the house.

“Christus ...”


“Mansionem ...”

          C      M


          C      M      B

“May Christ ...”

20      C      M      B

“this dwelling ... bless.”

20      C      M      B      12

“In the name of God, the Father ...”

20  +  C      M      B      12

“the Son ...”

20  +  C  +  M      B      12

“... and the Holy Spirit.”

20  +  C  +  M  +  B      12

Everyone responds.


20  +  C  +  M  +  B  +  12

Thus ends the blessing. The inscription is to be removed on the Feast of Pentecost. For those who require a simpler form, one is provided courtesy of

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Meanwhile, the day is remembered throughout the world by various names. In many parts of Europe, Epiphany retains its distinction as "Little Christmas." Among the Greek Orthodox, the waters of the harbor are blessed by the local priest. In Spanish-speaking countries, it is known as “Dia de los Tres Reyes” (“Day of the Three Kings”). There are parades on the main street, and pageants for the children. An example of the latter is seen here, performed by Iglesia Smirna Misionera, an Assembly of God congregation in Waterbury, Connecticut.

Oh, come on, you guys, click on it. These kids worked SO hard on this.


Ron Rolling said...

It is my understanding only a priest or deacon could be the Officiant; this post implies a lay person (e.g.--the head of a household) could do this. What sources can be cited (other than the link with the prayer of blessing)?

(Please understand I am not criticizing; as one who enjoys rituals and sees the need as elaborated in the link, I am sincerely curious.)

David L Alexander said...


No problem.

It has long been customary for blessings to be officiated by the head of a household, in cases where no sacrament is conferred, or in the case of blessings specifically reserved to the ordained. Of course, this assumes the absence of a priest or deacon. In addition, the versical/response "The Lord be with you/And with your spirit" is also reserved for the ordained. One may substitute "O Lord hear our prayer/And let our cry come to you."

All blessings described here at mwbh, as is the one for "chalking the door," are proper to the circumstances described above, unless indicated otherwise. I hope that answers your question.

(Does this mean I've been ... Ron Rolled?)

Ron Rolling said...

Yes, you have answered my question.

No, you have not been "rolled", although I appreciate the word play with my last name (somewhat easy when it can be a gerund).