20 + C + M + B 17

If you're a Catholic then you have probably seen the inscription of 20 + C + M + B 17 in chalk above a door around Epiphany. It looks like some sort of algebra equation. Epiphany is the 12th day of Christmas (January 6) when Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi to the manger to visit Jesus.

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 “17” at the end mark the year. Taken together, this inscription is performed as a request that Christ to bless those homes so marked 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 someone 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!

SFOCC will have chalk that will be blessed and given out on Sunday, January 8 so that you can chalk your own door. Below is a suggestion on how to perform the blessing. The following prayer is taken from the book, The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Elsa Chaney.

May all who come to our home this year rejoice to find Christ living among us; and may we seek and serve, in everyone we meet, that same Jesus who is your incarnate Word, now and forever. Amen.

God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only-begotten One to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Loving God, bless this household. May we be blessed with health, goodness of heart, gentleness, and abiding in your will. We ask this through Christ our Saviour. Amen.

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