This past Sunday in many places the feast of the Epiphany was celebrated. I attended Mass at the local monastery. They adhere to the monastic calendar rather than decisions of the USCCB, so we celebrated the second Sunday of Christmas. The actual feast of the Epiphany is the twelfth day of Christmas, this Wednesday, January 6th.
My older Polish relatives would often have in their homes, something written above the door in chalk. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I knew what it was. There are in the Roman Ritual, for the feast of the Epiphany, special blessings of water (Epiphany water), gold, frankincense, myrrh, chalk and homes (link). The chalk is distributed to the faithful who use it for the marking of doors. The Blessing of chalk is as follows…
|Bless, O Lord God, this creature, chalk, and let it be a help to mankind. Grant that those who will use it with faith in your most holy name, and with it inscribe on the doors of their homes the names of your saints, Casper, Melchior, and Balthazar, may through their merits and intercession enjoy health in body and protection of soul; through Christ our Lord.|
The markings placed above the door as follows – the first two digits of the year, a cross, the letter C, a cross, the letter M, a cross, the letter B, a cross, and finally the last two digits of the year. So for this year the doors are marked –
20 + C + M + B + 16
As reflected in the blessing, the traditional names of the wise men are Casper, Melchior and Balthazar. This is what C M B refers to. It also stands for ‘Christus Mansionem Benedicat’ (Christ bless this house).
I would encourage this practice, even if you don’t have access to blessed chalk. It is a way to incorporate this feast into our daily lives.