Entrance Into the Church

Entrance into the Church Certain ceremonies early grew into use as signs of reverence on the part of Christians on entering the church building. They washed their hands and faces in the fountains or cisterns which were generally found in the atrium or court before the church; probably referring to the Psalmist's expression, "I will wash my hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar." Many took off their shoes or sandals, especially when they went to receive the Eucharist; interpreting as applicable to themselves the command to Moses, "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." In some instances bowing towards the altar was practiced; and when emperors or kings went into the house of God, they not only left their arms and guard, but also their crowns, behind them. It was also not uncommon for men to kiss the doors, threshold, or pillars in token of their love. The germ of many of the absurd practices and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church may be found in these customs. — Farrar, Ecclesiastes Diet. s.v.; Bingham, Orig. Ecclesiastes book 8, chapter 10, § 12.

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