Each year around the feast of the Epiphany, many parishes throughout the world participate in an annual blessing of chalk. It is an ancient tradition that not only places God at the entrance of your home, it places your entire family under God’s protection.
Nothing of our faith demands this practice, or similar ones like it. They are simply offered to help foster the devotional life of the Church and assist us on our faith journey. “These expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1675). These devotional practices would fall under the category of sacramentals. The veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the Stations of the Cross, the rosary, scapulars, holy cards, and medals, etc., would all be considered sacramentals. “In addition to the liturgy, Christian life is nourished by various forms of popular piety, rooted in different cultures. While carefully clarifying them in the light of faith, the Church fosters the forms of popular piety that expresses an evangelical instinct and a human wisdom that enrich Christian life” (CCC, 1679).
The Epiphany blessing of chalk and homes is a centuries-old tradition where priests would visit each home of their parish after the Feast of the Epiphany. Over time it became more difficult to accomplish such a feat as parishes became larger and larger and priests were stretched thin. For this reason, it became an accepted tradition that a member of the household was able to lead this blessing in place of the priest.
The blessing has biblical roots, deeply tied to the Passover in the book of Exodus.The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt … “take some of the blood [of the lamb], and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it … The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt” (cf. Exodus 12:1-13).
It is no coincidence that the Epiphany blessing is traditionally written on the lintel of the main doorway and even some of the prayers echo God’s words of protection that he gave to Moses. While the Epiphany blessing was not given in the same manner as it was to Moses, the Church provides it for our own spiritual benefit. The Church desires our salvation and so gives us beautiful sacramentals to assist us along the path to Eternal Life.
Traditionally, a priest blesses chalk on the Feast of the Epiphany by saying the following prayer (from the Roman Ritual):
Bless, O Lord God, this creature, chalk, and let it be a help to mankind. Grant that those who will use it with faith in your most Holy Name, and with it inscribe on the doors of their homes the names of your saints, Casper, Melchior, and Balthasar, may through their merits and intercession enjoy health in body and protection of soul; through Christ our Lord.
The chalk is then distributed after Mass. Parishioners then take the chalk home and use it while invoking God’s blessing upon their home (using the enclosed worship aid). It is a beautiful blessing, one that brings many graces upon those who practice it in faith and is an added protection against any spiritual enemies that may be lurking around.
With penmanship and handwriting increasingly becoming a lost art, and because within contemporary homes families might be less-than-inclined to inscribe text upon their doorways, the enclosed printed card may be affixed above a chosen entrance to your home, if you wish.
Otherwise, after the prayers of the blessing are recited, take the blessed chalk and first write the initials of the Three Wise Men, connected with crosses, over the inside of your front door (on the lintel, [your molding] if possible). Then, write the year, breaking up the numbers and the year so that they fall on both sides of the initials. For example, it should look like this:
20 C + M + B 20
The 20 represents the millennium and century, the C standing for the first Wise Man, Caspar, the M standing for Melchior, the B standing for Balthasar, and the second 20 standing for the decade and year. It is also popularly believed that the Kings’ initials stand for Christus mansionem benedicat (Christ bless this house).
SOCIAL JUSTICE COLLECTION – This weekend, ushers will be in the Narthex to accept your donations to the Social Justice Fund.
CHRISTMAS PROJECT GRATITUDE – On Saturday, December 14th, members of our parish delivered gift cards and holiday baskets to 91 families (403 people) in our area. The Christmas Project exceeded its goal of $16,000 by raising nearly $16,500 in gift cards and monetary donations. A great big thank you to Sandy and John Appeldorn for coordinating the project, and to everyone who helped make this season brighter for many families: those who donated gift cards and monetary gifts, those who provided items for the gift baskets, those who created greeting cards, and those who organized, assembled, wrapped, and delivered baskets and poinsettias to our parishioners and neighbors. Our parish community is blessed with immense generosity.
FAMILY FAITH FORMATION RESOURCES – Copies of the January 2020 Take Out Magazine and Celebrating Sunday are available (one per family) in the kiosk and on the table in the narthex.
JUST 4 FUN – will host a night of Rumba Dance Lessons and dinner on Saturday January 18th in the Banquet Center, following the 5:00 p.m. Mass.
The dance lesson will be taught by our parishioners, Bill & Pam Ungar! After the lesson we will rest, enjoy our meal together and then open the floor to practice our Rumba!
This is a fabulous opportunity for all parishioners, including our Youth Members
Please call the Parish Office (440-946-0887) to make your reservation by Sunday, January 12th.
There will be a minimal cost associated with the dinner, and we will calculate that once we have a final headcount.
SOCIAL JUSTICE FUND 2019 – The Social Justice Fund supports a number of ministries including the Food Pantry, AERC, Buy Once, Give Twice Fair-Trade Sale, CEPROSI, St. Augustine Meal, and the Neighbor to Neighbor Meal (in partnership with the Endowment Fund). In addition, the Social Justice Fund provides financial assistance for families in need within our Willoughby Hills community, in the wider community through the Lake County Community Network and other Catholic parishes, as well as nationally and internationally through Catholic Charities, USA and Catholic Relief Services. This year, the Social Justice Fund has contributed $31,068.99 to assist our brothers & sisters in need. Thank you for your support of the Social Justice Fund!
FOOD PANTRY – Thanks to the Advent Tea for their donation of $317.17 to the pantry! 2020 has started off on the right foot!!
HELPING HANDS – Our huge CRS event is fast-approaching! Sign up to help pack 10,000 meals bound for Burkina Faso. We need many volunteers to make it all happen in less than 2 hours. Visit stnoel.org to register and/or donate.
WELLNESS RUN SUPPORTS THE PANTRY – Classic Lexus, the Cleveland Clinic, and the City of Willoughby Hills sponsored the 6th annual “Wellness Run/Walk” in October 2019. This past week, Matt Dietz, General Manager at Classic Lexus, presented the food pantry with a check for $3458.27 (see the website for pics). We are deeply grateful for the continued support we receive from the community. If you’re at Classic Lexus, please say thanks to Matt!
JAIL MINISTERS NEEDED – St. Noel is part of a 5-parish team that leads Sunday night communion services in the Lake County jail. We are in need of additional ministers for 2020. We always serve in pairs and training is provided. Please consider God’s call to this important ministry and contact Anthony if interested (440-946-1128).
HOSPITALITY COMMITTEE – needs volunteers to serve coffee and doughnuts on Saturday at the 5:00 p.m. Mass. The commitment is for once a month beginning in January 2020. Anyone interested in helping, please call Betty Louis (440) 942-4009 or the St. Noel Office at (440) 946-0887.
MARY’S HANDS PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY – now has a sufficient number of Prayer Shawls (blankets and mini-prayer squares too) for anyone in your life who is in need of spiritual healing of mind, body, or spirit. There is no cost for these items. You can obtain a Prayer Shawl, blanket, or prayer-square from the parish office during office hours. Simply fill out a request form, select your item, and the prayer team will continue to pray for the recipient at each of their gatherings. Prayer Shawls are a beautiful way to surround those in need with God’s healing love and the loving presence of our parish community. We thank the anonymous donor for “Our Lady of Fatima” relic medals. The medals are attached to the mini-pocket prayer squares. Upcoming meeting dates are Tuesday, Jan. 7th from 11a.m.-12:30 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 25th from 9:30-11:00 a.m. in the Resurrection Room. Donations are always appreciated. For more information, please contact Joyce Puin 440-473-1238, Nikki Rini 440-823-0413, or Candice Minello 440-336-0991.
PARISH SPAGHETTI DINNER/TALENT SHOW – The parish spaghetti dinner is scheduled for January 26th. This means another year of first-rate entertainment at the talent show. Any parishioner, including adults, are invited to perform. We’ve had musicians, poets, comics, gymnasts, dancers, singers, cup stackers, checkers masters, and more. Please sign up on the kiosk to register your act!
THEOLOGY ON THE ROCKS – Join us on Monday, January 13th at 7:00 p.m., 1414 Riverside Dr., Lakewood, for our speaker, Fr. John Manning, who will discuss the History of the Diocese. Fr. Manning is a judge in the Tribunal office, a delegate for retired priests, and is part of the faculty at Saint Mary’s Seminary where he is the Associate Professor on Church History. Register in advance – $12 per person www.theologyontherocks.wixsite.com/west
SEEKERS RETREAT – The 2020 Seekers’ Retreat for Young Adults is scheduled for January 31-February 2 at the Bethany Retreat Center in Chardon. See the flyer on the kiosk or contact Sr. Kate Hine ([email protected]) for details. This beautiful retreat would be a wonderful gift to yourself or the young adult in your life.
CLEVELAND RETROUVAILLE WEEKEND is scheduled for January 24-26, 2020. This is a Lifeline for Troubled Marriages.
Has your marriage become unloving or uncaring – your relationship cold, distant – thinking about a separation or divorce? Are you already separated/divorced but both of you want to try again? Then the Retrouvaille program may help.
RETROUVAILLE, which means rediscovery, is supported by the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, but it is open to couples of all faiths. This program consists of a weekend experience for couples and six follow up sessions. A registration fee of $150 is required to confirm your reservation. For more information concerning the program, or to register, please call Marce or Liz Gliha at 440-357-6580 or 1-800-470-2230, or go online to www.helpourmarriage.org.