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NPNF2-09. Hilary of Poitiers, John of Damascus
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Chapter XII.—Concerning Worship towards the East.

It is not without reason or by chance that we worship towards the East. But seeing that we are composed of a visible and an invisible nature, that is to say, of a nature partly of spirit and partly of sense, we render also a twofold worship to the Creator; just as we sing both with our spirit and our bodily lips, and are baptized with both water and Spirit, and are united with the Lord in a twofold manner, being sharers in the mysteries and in the grace of the Spirit.

Since, therefore, God23772377    Basil, De Spir. Sanct., c. 27; Alcuin, De Trin. ii. 5; Wal. Strabo, De reb. eccles, c. 4; Hon. August., Gemma Animæ. c. 950. is spiritual light23782378    1 St. John i. 5., and Christ is called in the Scriptures Sun of Righteousness23792379    Mal. iv. 2. and Dayspring23802380    Zach. iii. 8, vi. 12; St. Luke i. 78., the East is the direction that must be assigned to His worship. For everything good must be assigned to Him from Whom every good thing arises. Indeed the divine David also says, Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth: O sing praises unto the Lord: to Him that rideth upon the Heavens of heavens towards the East23812381    Ps. lxviii. 32, 33.. Moreover the Scripture also says, And God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed23822382    Gen. ii. 8.: and when he had transgressed His command He expelled him and made him to dwell over against the delights of Paradise23832383    Text, ὃν παραβάντα ἐξώρισεν, ἀπέναντί τε τοῦ Παραδείσου τῆς τρυφης κατῴκισεν . Variants, ὃν παραβάντα, τῆς τρυφῆς ἐξώρισεν, and ὃν παραβάντα, τοῦ παραδείσου τῆς τρυφῆς ἐξώρισεν, ἀπέναντί τε τοῦ παραδείσου κατῴκισεν., which clearly is the West. So, then, we worship God seeking and striving after our old fatherland. Moreover the tent of Moses23842384    Levit. xvi. 14. had its veil and mercy seat23852385    Ibid. 2. towards the East. Also the tribe of Judah as the most precious pitched their camp on the East23862386    Num. ii. 3.. Also in the celebrated temple of Solomon the Gate of the Lord was placed eastward. Moreover Christ, when He hung on the Cross, had His face turned towards the West, and so we worship, striving after Him. And when He was received again into Heaven He was borne towards the East, and thus His apostles worship Him, and thus He will come again in the way in which they beheld Him going towards Heaven23872387    Acts i. 11.; as the Lord Himself said, As the lightning cometh out of the East and shineth23882388    Text, φαίνεται. Variant, φθάνει. The old translation gives occupat.even unto the West, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be23892389    St. Matt. xxiv. 27..

So, then, in expectation of His coming we worship towards the East. But this tradition of the apostles is unwritten. For much that has been handed down to us by tradition is unwritten23902390    Basil, De Spiritu Sancto, ch. 27..


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