Skip to comments.St. Basil the Great on "Ad Orientem"
Posted on 08/31/2010 4:21:26 PM PDT by markomalley
[The following quotation comes in reference to another point on the part of St. Basil, however, I thought some of you would be interested in it since it makes reference to the tradition of Christians turning toward the East in prayer.]
Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or publicly enjoined which are preserved in the Church some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have received delivered to us "in a mystery" by the tradition of the apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force. And these no one will gainsayno one, at all events, who is even moderately versed in the institutions of the Church. For were we to attempt to reject such customs as have no written authority, on the ground that the importance they possess is small, we should unintentionally injure the Gospel in its very vitals; or, rather, should make our public definition a mere phrase and nothing more. To take the first and most general example, who is thence who has taught us in writing to sign with the sign of the cross those who have trusted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ? What writing has taught us to turn to the East at the prayer? Which of the saints has left us in writing the words of the invocation at the displaying of the bread of the Eucharist and the cup of blessing? For we are not, as is well known, content with what the apostle or the Gospel has recorded, but both in preface and conclusion we add other words as being of great importance to the validity of the ministry, and these we derive from unwritten teaching.
... we all look to the East at our prayers, but few of us know that we are seeking our own old country, Paradise, which God planted in Eden in the East.
-- St. Basil the Great (ca. A.D. 329-379), On the Holy Spirit, 27:66
I've never done this. The long axis of my present church is North-South, with the pulpit at South. Since this is based on architecture and location rather than tradition, I had to think about it, and on first typing it mistakenly put the pulpit at the North.
Us Baptists is weird, I guess :)
."For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend in to heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High." (Isaiah 14: 13,14).
I think early Christians read Mt 24 26:28 and felt that the Son of Man would be coming in the clouds like lightning in the East lighting up the west. Thus they faced east to greet the coming of the Son of Man.
I was taught (as an Episcopalian) to refer to the altar end of the church as the east end even when it wasn’t.
3. There is a certain fittingness in adoring towards the east. First, because the Divine majesty is indicated in the movement of the heavens which is from the east. Secondly, because Paradise was situated in the east according to the Septuagint version of Gn 2,8, and so we signify our desire to return to Paradise. Thirdly, on account of Christ Who is "the light of the world" [*Jn 8,12 9,5], and is called "the Orient" (Zach. 6:12). Who mounteth above the heaven of heavens to the east (Ps 67,34), and is expected to come from the east, according to Mt 24,27, "As lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." (Summa Th II-II Qu.84 a.3)
(BTW, if you actually look up Zech 6:12, you will find that most translations do not list it like Aquinas does. His work is based upon the Septuagint, not upon the newer Masoretic text, which wasn't available until the 9th C AD)
It seems to me that that text shows only that the pagans, esp the King of Babylon thought something like that.
If promotion does not come from the east or the west or the south, but from the Lord, then the home of God must be located in the north from the earth. Confirmed in Isa. 14:12-14, where it is revealed that Lucifer ascended into heaven from the sides of the north.
To me this is a funny way to work. Can’t we settle one text before we go to another?
No, actually it’s called ‘comparing scripture with scripture’. And all I’m saying is that from these two scriptures, I believe that Heaven is located in the north part of the universe, pointing from the earth. It’s just an opinion, nothing more..:)
(Shrug) IMHO as long as the content and intent of your prayer is right, how you orient is immaterial; contrariwise, orientation will not repair an otherwise faulty attempt at prayer.
Peace be with all of you.
I think words in the new translation instead of saying “from the east to the west” will say “from the rising of the sun to the setting of the sun” or something quite beautiful — a lot better than from the east to the west.
For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:27)
And the glory of the Lord came into the house, by the way of the gate looking eastward: (Eze 43:4)
All Eastern Orthodox churches are built so that we pray facing east.
sorry for the duplicate post...
No problem problem problem problem problem problem problem problem
(I just thought you were posting from a cathedral. you know how the echo can be)
The first text of of the comparison is an instance of indirect discourse on many levels: Isaiah says this is how you will taunt the King of Babylon (14:4 ff) you will say that the shades in Sheol will say (v.10, ff) that "you" (that is, the King of Babylon" said thus and so (v.13-14)
And it is in what Isaiah says
that the people will say
that the shades will say
that the King of Babylon said:
(among other vain boasts)
"I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far north. ..."
Now we toodle over to ψ 75:6.
The first problem is going to be about texts and translations. Neither my RSV, my NEB, nor the dreadful NAB include "south". My Young's Analytical spares me from having to get my dread MT by telling me the word is MiDBaR - pasture land or wilderness.
Darn! I had to get my MT and cross my eyes. What I find is (Awesome! I can still read Hebrew! sort of, avlittle. I need a refresher course ... badly!) what I find is nothng especially helpful, but I learned a new word, so it wasn't a waste of time.
The new official Mad Dawg translation, soon to be a major motion picture:
For not from east nor from west, and not from the wilderness [that is, un-built-upon land] is exaltation.Now, when that famed (but modest) Biblical Scholar, moi, reads that kind of thing in the Bible generally but in the Psalms and Prophets more specifically, here's what I think. (Are you taking notes? Good! There WILL be a quiz)
Either it's saying, "Your exaltation, "promotion", salvation, redemption, whatever is not coming from any place on earth," OR it's implying ("[all of the above with] any place on earth but HERE, (Jerusalem, Israel/Judea) where the ark and/or the temple and the Shekhinah are."
But that's just me.
Okay. Pause for breath. I need a librarian to put my books back for me. I can never remember where I got them from.
Now, for completeness, we should touch on the question of heaven being a place in a nameable direction from any place with which we might be familiar. We see Elijah and our Lord "going up." But that's in a context where we sing "Sing to the LORD, for going up He has gone up [He is greatly exalted], horse and its rider (Dawg translation, 'driver' because of the etymological similarity between RoKeBo - rider and MeRKeBah - chariot) has he hurled into the sea." So exaltation, then as now, is metaphorical at least as much as a literal 'going up."
Also, speaking as an adopted Virginian, the idea of anything good coming from the NORTH, land of carpetbaggers and all the Yankees that came here after I did, is absurd on its face.
In any event, to be momentarily serious (doing Hebrew always makes me crazy), it I think it's problematic to talk about heaven being in a particular direction. Which way is the wilderness of Seir, from which the Lord comes? It must be north of somewhere, but north of everywhere?
And finally, while I think it good to mull over verses of Scripture, while offering the whole mulling process to God, I think to add a multi level indirect discourse to a perhaps overly specific translation of MiDBar and conclude that God's Word teaches that heaven is located in the northern part of the universe, is a reach.
That is definitely ALL the Hebrew I'm going to do for September! My eyes hurt.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.