The traditional Rituale Romanum (Roman Ritual) has a surprising number of blessings connected with the Feast of the Epiphany. As you may know, in many countries that were historically Catholic, Epiphany was sort of a bigger day than Christmas itself: for example, in Italy, it is the day when Befana brings gifts to children; in many other countries gifts are exchanged on this day — and not Christmas day — also. Perhaps the plethora of blessings arises from the extra solemnity with which Epiphany — the twelfth day after Christmas — was/is celebrated popularly. I can only speculate; I have not had time to research this topic.
Among the blessings for Epiphany in the Rituale there are:
- Blessing of Epiphany Water (a powerful variant of holy water blessed via an elaborate ritual)
- Blessing of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh (I really don’t know what the practical use of this blessing is, and while frankincense and myrrh are not hard to get I do tend to lack gold…)
- Blessing of Chalk (which is then used to bless homes)
- Blessing of Homes during Epiphanytide
The Blessing of a Home during Epiphany, when done by a priest, is particularly impressive compared with your garden-variety house blessing: it involves not only the sprinkling of holy water but also the use of incense. I suppose nowadays we have to be careful of smoke alarms. But usually a small quantity of smoke, kept moving through the house, is fine. I got to do this blessing for the first time last year and hope I will be invited to do so in the future as well (locals: hint, hint).
But there is a variant for a lay person to use in the absence of a priest. I am pleased to share that here. Epiphany falls on its traditional date this year (January 6), so at the Sunday Masses of January 5-6 I will bless chalk and provide the leaflet I link to below in baggies for folks to take home and use for blessing their homes.
I hope to look at also doing the Epiphany Water blessing next year (i.e., January 2020), as it does require some additional logistical and scheduling consideration. But the many blessings connected with the Church’s liturgical cycle and feasts are important ways for us to sanctify our homes and our lives throughout the year and benefit from special graces along our way.