Sunday, January 6, 2019

Happy Feast of the Epiphany!

Mass today was so wonderful at our new little parish here in rural Northern VA.  It gave me that happy feeling I often get on Sundays, that understanding that to be a Catholic is to know true joy!  It makes me wonder why anyone would choose to be anything else!

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."

There are so many reasons why we are thrilled that we made the bold decision to leave our longtime home in NH and move to VA back in March of 2017.

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.


  1. Replies
    1. I don't know that I've ever been more joy-filled on Epiphany. I think I'm going to make it a point to make Epiphany a special celebration every year. Some families even do a gift exchange that day (3 presents each, like the Magi), so that they can have quality time together after all the hoopla has passed. I actually think that's a tradition I could get into, now that our boys all have so much going on in their lives--with their wives' families and their own little families and ours. It's so much. It might be nice to celebrate on Epiphany.

  2. What a wonderful Epiphany! We've never done the house blessing, our Parish doesn't do the kits and quite honestly the feel of chalk on my hands gives me the willies so... (is that too weird for me to admit?) You should see if your Parish has a rosary group. Joining mine has led to some wonderful friendships. And the power of prayer is so strong. #alsoanintrovert

    1. Madeline, you have inspired me. I'm going to look through the bulletin and see if I can find something like that. Now that our kids are grown, we no longer have the built-in opportunities to make friends with other parents at their school. And then to move at this stage of's a little daunting trying to figure out how to meet people (especially when you don't work). But I am definitely going to look into this. Thanks!

  3. Sounds like you have a lovely Parish and priests. Strongly believe in a Catholic education myself, sadly it's not playing out too well in our parish though, despite having two Catholic schools and a highschool most Sundays our children are the only ones who attend.
    It must be so demoralising for the teachers, my prayers go to them.

    Are there any Parish groups you could join?

    1. As a matter of fact I just saw in our latest bulletin that they are looking for new members for the altar society--and I am going to call and volunteer to join! I think that will be the perfect way to meet some new people and also to help out at the church. :)

  4. You live a fairy tale life, Laura. :) And I agree that you should join some groups. I'm an introvert, too, and I joined a couple of different things especially since I'm the only one in my family attending Mass and it was lonely. It feels so great to be a part of the church in that way and meeting new people.

    1. I am absolutely going to take this advice and look into joining a church group. I didn't really do that when our boys were growing up, because I was so busy helping out at their schools. And then when they grew up, we spent so much time traveling to see them before we moved down here that I never got around to doing it (aside from helping out at coffee and donuts after Mass). But I think I'm ready to do it now! I think that will be the perfect way to get involved in our new Catholic community.