December 30, 2018 – A View from the Rectory Window

The Chalking of the Doors: An Epiphany Tradition Invitation


Over the years, I have been invited to ask God’s blessings over so many homes. This weekend, I invite you to share in extending this blessing to your home. To do this, after our Epiphany Masses, bags of blessed chalk and a brief prayer will be distributed.

If you’re a Catholic, you may have seen a mysterious series of letters and numbers, looking for all the world like an equation, inscribed in chalk over a doorway. If you don’t know what the chalk is all about, don’t be ashamed. You’re certainly not alone.

Epiphany (Three Kings Day) marks the occasion of a time-honored Christian tradition of “chalking the doors.” The formula for the ritual — adapted for 2019 — is simple: take chalk of any color and write the following above the entrance of your home: 20 + C + M + B + 19.

The letters have two meanings. First, they represent the initials of the Magi — Caspar, Malchior, and Balthazar — who came to visit Jesus in His first home. They also abbreviate the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat: “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross, and the “20” at the beginning and the “19” at the end mark the year. Taken together, this inscription is performed as a request for Christ to bless those homes so marked and that He stay with those who dwell therein throughout the entire year.

The chalking of the doors is a centuries-old practice throughout the world, though it appears to be somewhat less well-known in the United Sates. It is, however, an easy tradition to adopt, and a great practice whereby we dedicate our year to God from its very outset, asking His blessing on our homes and on all who live, work, or visit them there.

The chalking of the doors of a home encourages Christians to dedicate their life at home to God and to others. Seeing the symbols over our doors can help to remind us, while passing in and out on our daily routines, that our homes and all those who dwell there belong to Christ. It also serves as a reminder of welcoming the Magi gave to Jesus. We should strive to be as welcoming to all who come to our homes to visit us!

While, it is my hope that every vehicle in our community will have our parish symbol affixed, I am even more hopeful that every home will bear this inscription of God’s blessing.

Fr. Pete