Sunday, October 16, 2005

face east; its better

It would seem that we no longer go to church to look at God. Apparently, we now go to church to look at one another. It is not a bad thing to look at one another. We are certainly taught to love our neighbors as ourselves. But to do this properly, we must first look to God and love him. We do not love our neighbor simply because she is our neighbor, we lover her because God loves us, and to practice such love we must first learn it from "Love the Lord [who] is on the way."

This does not mean that free-standing altars must be uprooted and moved. It does not matter where the altar stands: Priest and people may still face east at a free-standing altar. In ancient basilicas the altar was free-standing, but the priest came from his seat in the apse, around the altar, to face east for the eucharistic prayer. In fact, to restore such a movement to the modern liturgy would provide a striking symbol of the unity of priest and people making their common offering of themselves, their souls and bodes, to God.

From the Living Church via A Worker in the Vineyard. Thanks Fr. Lee.

I agree completley. Everyone, priest and people, should face the same direction during the offering of Eucharist. This is not, as they say, a cross to die on. But facing east is better than the alternatives.

4 comments:

Adam said...

1000 Amens! Good stuff.

DDX said...

In the 1st century synagogues were built oriented toward Jerusalem. In Jerusalem they were built oriented to the Temple (and Temple Mount). Likewise when the Jewish believers in Jesus as Messiah (early church)built a meeting place, they tended to orient it also to Jerusalem, but in Jerusalem oriented toward Golgatha and the tomb which became the "Church of the Holy Sepulchre." Thus, in the West particularly Christian and Jewish congregations have tended to orient their buildings eastwardly in the direction of Jerusalem.
The Messiah's return to earth is expected to be to the Mount of Olives "east" of Jeruslam thus the tradition arose that the 2nd Coming would be from the east. Christian burials have traditionally laid the body so that it would arise facing east to greet the Lord. I think that's what's behind all the eastward orientations for especially for westerners' church buildings, alters and burials, is it not? DDX

John J. O'Sullivan™ said...

I do like what +++Benedict wrote concerning Eastward positioning in The Spirit of the Liturgy: That the praying toward the Oriens, the East, the Resurrection, is the meet and right position. However, even in parishes where such Eastward worship would be distracting (because a radical change back to the way things *should* be could be upsetting), a crucifix should be placed upon or near the altar, so that all who pray during the Eucharist all pray toward the True Oriens, the Son who rose, like the sun who springs forth like a bridegroom from his tabernacle...

-j

Inquisitor Generalis said...

Good stuff.