Frj82’s Blog

January 9, 2009

Epiphany ynahpipE

Why do we visit parishioners around Epiphany time?  Why does the priest show up announced (or unannounced, which is more dramatic) to talk with you, then bless your house and draw a bunch of funny letters and numbers above your doorway?  To quote the Saint Stanislaus Parish Bulletin “Epiphany visitations are an ancient tradition in the Church.  Pastors and assistants visited homes in the season following the Feast of the Three Kings.  The purpose of these visits was to gather gifts to maintain the church in the cold months.  Today, the pastoral aspect of these visits is emphasized.  The shepherds of the parish visit the homes of the faithful to become better acquainted and to knit the parish community into a real and close parish family.  The visit begins with prayer and the blessing of the home and members of the family.”

The most important thing is for people to realize that the actions of the church are not confined to the walls of the church.  This is a tough idea to get across, because most of the activities we do “with the church” that are outside of the church…such as bowling, baseball games, so on…have nothing to do with church.  But when it is a visit to your house, its focused on two of the most important aspects of church – ministry and prayer.  Whether the priest talks to you about music, how Scranton used to be, the economy, family members, sports or whatever, it is that fellowship aspect that is under that umbrella which is ministry.  Of course, I think it is fairly obvious when someone doesn’t care to be in a conversation, but that is why, in my opinion, it is a priest’s job to be interesting…to know what is going on the news, to know who’s somewhat popular in music, to have read a book somewhat recently, to know your American and local history, to have checked the weather (a must) that day, to have a few good stories to tell.  A junky priest is one who doesn’t care to put in that small effort…and dopily stares at people during a visit.  Oh well.

The priest will then say some prayers and used the water blessed on January 6th, the day of Epiphany (or whatever is still left from Holy Saturday) and used the chalk blessed on Epiphany to mark the houses that they were visited in the year of our Lord and in the name of Him as well as the three kings…Caspar (Kaspar), Melchior, and Balthazar.  The markings on the door can be done in a few different ways, but should look like something like +20 C+M+B 09+ or 20+CMB+09.  And yes, I know the bible doesn’t say there were “3” wise men, or their names.  It is just what we do based on what the Church has done for years.

Another interpretation of the meaning of the marking of the house with the blessed chalk is “CMB” stands for the “Christus Mansionem Benedicat,” which in Latin means “May God bless this house.”  Or, if you want to see it in Polish, it is “KMB” because that is the way “Caspar” is spelled.  Otherwise, it would sound like “tsaspar” and, well, that sounds silly.

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