During the late 18th century, Johannes ‘Reginald’ Boehm emigrated from Germany and settled in Kentucky as a farmer, anglicizing the surname to “Beam”. Johnathan Walker was born near Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, Scotland and became a successful grocer and wholesale trader. Jasper Newton Daniel was of Welsh, Scots-Irish and Scottish descent and became a chemical engineer in Lynchburg, Tennessee. These three gentlemen possessed an entrepreneurial acumen that perhaps could be characterized as wisdom considering that each of their eponymous concoctions is still being consumed down to this day. And if you mix equal parts in a glass you have the particularly potent potable known as “The Three Wise Men”!
Among the authentic blessings in the (extraordinary form) Roman Ritual we find a few proper to the feast of the Epiphany: a blessing of gold, incense and myrrh; a blessing of Epiphany Water; a blessing of homes on Epiphany; a blessing of chalk. The blessing of chalk on the day of Our Lord’s Epiphany is a medieval devotion of Bavarian origin. Once blessed, the chalk is distributed to the faithful. They will use it to write above the lintel of the home’s main doorway the initials of the three Holy Kings, indicating as well the year, in the customary manner: 20+C+M+B+14. The same may be done with other doors of the house. The letters may represent the traditional names given to the Magi, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar; more significantly the letters signify a prayer “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” (May Christ bless this House). The prayer of the Roman Ritual reveals the beautiful meaning of the pious practice. Bless † O Lord God this creature, chalk, and let it be a help to mankind. Grant that those who use it in faith and with it inscribe upon the entrance of their homes the names of Thy saints, Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar, may, through their intercession and merits, enjoy health in body and protection of soul. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
What beautiful simplicity in that prayer with which to begin a New Year. Now I wonder if there is something equally appropriate with which to raise an Epiphany toast?