Students from the local Catholic grade school (called Epiphany Catholic School--how perfect is that?) did the readings. Their school choir sang the songs. And after Mass, adorable little people clad in their neat and tidy school uniforms passed out house blessing kits to all the parishioners.
So when we got home, my husband and I did our first-ever house blessing. That seems kind of embarrassing to admit here in the Catholic blogosphere--that it was our first; but we didn't grow up practicing this tradition in our families, and we didn't know anyone who did. Things had begun to change a bit in the Church by the late 60's and early 70's, when we were in junior high and high school, and we fear that in some ways our faith formation was a bit lacking.
I've often said that I credit my early religion classes, in 1st and 2nd grade, with giving me the foundation that led to a lifetime of solid Catholic Faith. I can still remember the way the illustrations in the catechism text looked, and the nun who taught us; I can still see in my mind's eye the page that showed the black spots that would fill my soul if I committed sins. I can remember living in dread of soiling my newly-whitened soul after I made my first Confession, and kneeling to say an Act of Contrition if I ever thought I did anything that might have left a spot. (Oh, to be as sweet and innocent and ready at any moment to meet my Maker as I was back then!)
Anyway, using the kit provided by the school, I lit the stick of incense and my husband sprinkled holy water in every doorway and room of the house. I wrote in chalk, 20+C+M+B+19, on a VA-shaped piece of wood that I painted with chalkboard paint and nailed above the door. (I hope this is okay; I was worried that no one would be able to read the blessing if I wrote it on the door frame, because it's painted white.) 2019 stands for the year. The initials C, M, and B stand for the three Magi--Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar; but it also means "Christus Mansionem Benedicat," which is Latin for "May Christ Bless This House."
Finally, we recited this prayer together:
"Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect His love. 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 Lord, forever and ever. Amen."
For one thing, we get the best pop-in visitors--like these three little people who showed up on my doorstep yesterday. They belong to our middle son, and they live just over a half-hour away in one direction.
|G-Man and Princesa--playing the Magi?|
We also get to frequently witness sweet moments like this one, between our second-oldest son and his two oldest boys (he has three of them!); they live less than an hour away in the other direction.
But we also love the idyllic little town where we landed, even though before we bought our house we knew almost nothing about the area. The location alone--a central meeting spot for the four sons who have settled here with their families--would have made it ideal; but it is also just a lovely place to live. And our parish...I can't say enough about how much we love our new parish, and the priests there who lead their flock with courage and love, unafraid to say the tough things that need to be said so that we will all find our way back to our Father in Heaven.
Today, our pastor spoke passionately about the importance of Catholic education and the need to support our Catholic schools any way we can. My husband and I made sending our boys to Catholic school a top priority, and thought any financial sacrifices we had to make to do so were well worth it; and we feel very strongly about the need to have thriving Catholic schools available for our grandchildren and their peers, and for generations to come. So we are currently trying to decide the best way to lend support to our local school, an institution named for this day.
Readers, I have to tell you that I am brimming with feast day joy! We had coffee and pastries after Mass, at a little gathering in the church hall hosted by the Epiphany Catholic School--and even met someone new there, an art teacher who could potentially be a friend. (What are those anyway? I have not made one yet down here in my new hometown. #introvertproblems) We did our first-ever Epiphany house blessing. It was just an all-around good day and I am filled with love--for my family, my home, my Faith, and most of all for Christ.
I feel blessed. And now my house is feeling that way, too.