Bowing Toward the East

Bowing Toward The East, a practice in the early Christian churches. "Its origin is thus stated: The sun being a symbol of Christ, the place of its rising was a fitting though imaginary representation of heaven, whence Christ descended, and to which he ascended in glory as the mediator between God and man. The heathens charged the Christians with worshipping the rising sun; but St. Augustine repudiates such an idea when he says, 'We turn to the east, whence the heavens, or the light of heaven arises, not as if God was only there, and had forsaken all other parts of the world, but to put ourselves in mind of turning to a more excellent nature, that is, to the Lord.' Turning to the east as a symbol of turning to God has reference to some of the ceremonies connected with baptism in ancient times. When the persons to be baptized entered the baptistery, where they were to make their renunciation of Satan and their confessions of faith, they were placed with their faces toward the west, and commanded to renounce Satan with some gesture or rite; this they did by striking their hands together as a token of abhorrence, by stretching out their hands against him, by exsufflation, and by spitting at him as if he were present. They were then turned round to the east, and desired to lift up their hands and eyes to heaven, and enter into covenant with Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. 'The west,' says Cyril of Jerusalem, is the place of darkness, and Satan is darkness, and his strength is in darkness. For this reason ye symbolically look toward the west when ye renounce that prince of darkness and horror.' To this we add from St. Jerome, First we renounce him that is in the west, who dies to us with our sins; and then, turning about to the east, we make a covenant with the Sun of Righteousness, and promise to be his servants.' Bowing toward the east is practised in those churches of the Establishment where the congregations are instructed to turn their faces in that direction at the recital of the creed." This custom has been revived of late by some of the so-called Puseyites in England and America. It is the practice in the Romish Church to bow toward the altar, that is, toward the east, in entering or leaving the church.-Chambers, Encyclopedia, s.v. ; Eadie, Eccles. Encyclopcedia, s.v.

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