We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, he draws us to himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.—St. Francis of Assisi.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Facing East together toward the Lord. The witness of the early Church.


Liturgical formality and Eastward direction.

Didascalia, 250 A.D.
Chapter XII

Now, in your gatherings, in the holy Church, convene yourselves modestly in places of the brethren, as you will, in a manner pleasing and ordered with care. Let the place of the priests be separated in a part of the house that faces east. In the midst of them is placed the bishop’s chair, and with him let the priests be seated. Likewise, and in another section let the laymen be seated facing east. For thus it is proper: that the priests sit with the bishop in a part of the house to the east and after them the lay men and the lay women… Now, you ought to face east to pray, for, as you know, scripture has it, Give praise to God who ascends above the highest heavens to the east [Ps 67.34 LXX]… And if there is one to be found who is not sitting in his place let the deacon who is within, rebuke him, and make him to rise and sit in his fitting place… Likewise, the deacon ought to see that there are none who whisper or sleep or laugh or nod off. For in the Church it is necessary to have discipline, sober vigilance, and attentive ear to the Word of the Lord.

Another translation [Connolly]:

And in your congregations in the holy churches hold your assemblies with all decent order, and appoint the places for the brethren with care and gravity. And for the presbyters let there be assigned a place in the eastern part of the house; and let the bishop's throne be set in their midst, and let the presbyters sit with him. And again, let the lay men sit in another part of the house toward the east. ... For it is required that you pray toward the east, as knowing that which is written: Give ye glory to God, who rideth upon the heaven of heavens toward the east [Ps 67.34 LXX].

But of the deacons let one stand always by the oblations of the Eucharist; and let another stand without by the door and observe them that come in; and afterwards, when you offer, let them minister together in the Church. And if anyone be found sitting out of his place, let the deacon who is within reprove him and make him to rise up and sit in a place that is meet for him.

... And let the deacon also see that no one whispers, or falls asleep, or laughs, or makes signs. For so it should be, that with decency and decorum they watch in the Church, with ears attentive to the word of the Lord.

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