Sunday, August 11, 2013

Why do we pray facing East?

St. Basil the Great explains the reason why we pray facing East, but also why we stand upright, claiming: “For this reason we all look to the East during our prayers…because we seek our ancient fatherland, paradise, which God planted towards the East. It is standing upright that we make our prayers on the first day of the week…It is not only because risen together with Christ, we ought to seek the things above, and through our standing up for prayer on the day of the resurrection call to mind the grace given to us, but because it is a kind of image of the age to come…And this one day is also the eighth, pointing to that really unique and truly eighth day…the condition that follows our time, the day that will never end, without evening or tomorrow, the imperishable age that will never grow old…”[1]

St. John Damaskinos adds to the above statement that “also, when the Lord was crucified, he looked towards the West, and so we worship gazing towards him. And when he was taken up, he ascended towards the East and thus the apostles worshipped him and thus he shall come in the same way as they had seen him going into heaven…And so, while we are awaiting him we worship towards the East”[2].

[1] Louth, Andrew, Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology, (London, SPCK, 2013), p. 144
[2] Ibid.

1 comment:

  1. However St. Irenaeus of Lyon wrote that we Christians do not pray towards Jerusalem because we have no holy land to refer to. Jerusalem is not,according to him, our point of reference. Every land is holy.