Rituals of faith, practiced at home, are one of the most formative ways parents can nurture the faith of their children. Recent studies conclude that the primary faith influence on children and youth are parents. The benefits of growing up in a spiritually enriching household are many. Parishes have the privilege of equipping parents to offer these nurturing practices and the newly launched Children and Families Christian formation committee for the diocese wants to help parishes with that work.
At the December meeting of the committee, members put together a “kit” to invite families to pray and do a simple home blessing during the season of Epiphany. These kits are available to all parishes who would like to distribute them. The committee wanted to keep it simple and ready to use, both for parishes to subscribe to and for families to use.
The home blessing at Epiphany is a tradition many churches practice, but it may be new to others. The tradition marks the visit of the Magi to the home of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus from the gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2:1-12). It’s a simple, hands-on way to pray for Christ’s blessing on all who visit and live in the home. The “kit” includes blessed chalk and a card with prayers and instructions on how to mark the doorway with the formula 20 + C + M + B + 20. The formula is rich in symbolism. The two “20s” represent the coming year which enclose the prayer: 2020. The ‘C’, the ‘M’, and the ‘B’ have two meanings. The first and primary one is that they are the first letters of a prayer in Latin: Christus mansionem benedicat = May Christ bless this home. The second meaning is that they are the first letters of the names of the Magi according to legend: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.
Children of all ages can participate in this and it could become a memorable practice for families every year. It comes after the hectic Christmas season, during the return to school, and into the doldrums of January. It takes less time than the drive to hockey practice and it’s a daily visible reminder of the prayers made and the honour we have as Christian households to be places of welcome and warmth. Above all, it’s a visible reminder of the Christ who greets and blesses us in our coming out and going in.
If you would like these home blessing packages for your parish, email the Missioner for Christian Formation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 604-684-6306 ext. 225. There is a small cost per 'kit': $2.00. Half of this will help cover materials and the other half will be donated to charity. They may be delivered or picked up from the diocesan office after Dec.3rd.
Archbishop Skelton blesses the chalk
Text of the Prayer of Blessing
God who leads your people
through the journey of life,
as you led Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar
to worship Jesus,
so lead us to be fearless
in making Jesus known
in our homes and in our lives.
Bless + this chalk
that those who see the blessing on our homes
may know that our doorways
are places of welcome and blessing
and that you are the God who blesses us every day.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, born of Mary,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.