Not all burials followed the tradition nor did all cemeteries.
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The reason for the east facing position is offered by tom kunesh: Note that in Christianity, the star of the Jewish astronomers from Iraq [Babylon] comes from the east. When the West-east burial position was used, the graves hardly ever aligned with the true east. The probable reason for that is true east could not be ascertained.
Even though the magnetic compass existed when the first settlers established James Town Jamestown in , its use was very limited. The earliest graves from Virginia are not aligned true east. The most probable reason for misalignment is that the east was determined by position of the sun on the eastern horizon at sunrise at the time of the establishment of the burial ground. It was the perception of east that set the direction, not the compass. Facing East Burials and Land Surveying In the words of Louis Simpson: In this America, this wilderness Where the axe echoes with a lonely sound, The generations labor to possess And grave by grave we civilize the ground.
As the frontier settlers moved westward intruding on Indian lands, the need for grave sites became inevitable. The family burial ground on the family farm was the first of the frontier cemeteries. The custom of family burial grounds kept its strong hold on the rural south, especially in the Appalachian and Cumberland Mountain areas.
All these things He practiced in His person and taught us to practise ourselves. Moses Bar-Kepha , a ninth-century bishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church called praying towards the east one of the mysteries of the Church. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger , who later became Pope Benedict XVI , described the eastward orientation as linked with the "cosmic sign of the rising sun which symbolizes the universality of God. Outside of Rome, it was an ancient custom for most churches to be built with the entrance at the west end and for priest and people to face eastward to the place of the rising sun.
On the history of the custom of constructing many but not all churches in this way, see Orientation of churches. Among the exceptions was the original Constantinian Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem , which had the altar in the west end. Members of the Pentecostal Apostolic Faith Mission continue to pray facing east, believing that it "is the direction from which Jesus Christ will come when he returns". It is common for members of Oriental Orthodox Churches to pray privately in their homes facing eastward; when a priest visits one's home, he usually asks where the east is before he leads a family in prayer.
Byzantine Orthodox also face east when praying.
On the other hand, there are some small Christian groups that consider praying towards the east "an abomination". Ad orientem is commonly used today to describe a particular orientation of a priest in Christian liturgy , facing the apse or wall behind the altar, with priest and people looking in the same direction, as opposed to the versus populum orientation, in which the priest faces the congregation. In this use, the phrase is not necessarily related to the geographical direction in which the priest is looking and is employed even if he is not facing to the east or even has his back to the east.
In early Christianity, the practice of praying towards the east did not result in uniformity in the orientation of the buildings in which Christians worshipped and did not mean that the priest necessarily faced away from the congregation, the meaning today commonly attached to the phrase ad orientem. The view prevails therefore that the priest, facing east, would celebrate ad populum in some churches, in others not, in accordance with the churches' architecture.
It was in the 8th or 9th century that the position whereby the priest faced the apse, not the people, when celebrating Mass was adopted in the basilicas of Rome.
Facing East. Straw Mushroom Chilli Wine Chicken. Veg Spicy Basil Fried Rice. The family burial ground on the family farm was the first of the frontier cemeteries. The most probable reason for misalignment is that the east was determined by position of the sun on the eastern horizon at sunrise at the time of the establishment of the burial ground. After the opening act of the great national drama, Native Americans yielded to the westward rush of European settlers. Assorted Vegetables in Chilli Bean Sauce.
Anglican Bishop Colin Buchanan writes that there "is reason to think that in the first millennium of the church in Western Europe, the president of the eucharist regularly faced across the eucharistic table toward the ecclesiastical west. Somewhere between the 10th and 12th centuries, a change occurred in which the table itself was moved to be fixed against the east wall, and the president stood before it, facing east, with his back to the people. In 7th century England , it is said, Catholic churches were built so that on the very feast day of the saint in whose honor they were named, Mass could be offered on an altar while directly facing the rising sun.
The present Roman Missal revised in following the Second Vatican Council does not forbid the ad orientem position of the priest saying Mass: its General Instruction only requires that in new or renovated churches the facing-the-people orientation be made possible: "The altar should be built separate from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible.
A letter of 25 September from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments treats the phrase "which is desirable wherever possible" as referring to the requirement that altars be built separate from the wall, not to the celebration of Mass facing the people, while "it reaffirms that the position toward the assembly seems more convenient inasmuch as it makes communication easier His celebration of Mass in the Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace on 1 December was reported to be the first time he publicly celebrated Mass ad orientem on a freestanding altar.
Although neither before nor after the 20th-century revision of the Roman Rite did liturgical norms impose either orientation, the distinction became so linked with traditionalist discussion that it was considered journalistically worthy of remark that Pope Francis celebrated Mass ad orientem  at an altar at which only this orientation was possible. In a conference in London on 5 July , Cardinal Robert Sarah , Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, encouraged priests to adopt the ad orientem position from the first Sunday in Advent at the end of that year.
However, the Vatican soon clarified that this was a personal view of the cardinal and that no official directives would be issued to change the prevailing practice of celebrating versus populum. With the English Reformation , the Church of England directed that the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist be celebrated at a communion table placed lengthwise in the chancel or in the body of the church, with the priest standing on the north side of the holy table , facing south.
Turning to the east continued to be observed at certain points of the Anglican liturgy, including the saying of the Gloria Patri , Gloria in excelsis Deo and ecumenical creeds in that direction. In the middle of the 19th century, the Oxford Movement gave rise to a return to the eastward-facing position, and use of the versus populum position appeared in the second half of the 20th century. However, over "the course of the last forty years or so, a great many of those altars have either been removed and pulled out away from the wall or replaced by the kind of freestanding table-like altar", in "response to the popular sentiment that the priest ought not turn his back to the people during the service; the perception was that this represented an insult to the laity and their centrality in worship.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Christianity portal. Cambridge University Press. In the West, the tradition is first witnessed by Augustine: 'When we stand at prayer, we turn to the east ad orientem , whence the heaven rises. Orthodox Prayer. Retrieved 14 June Ignatius Press. Retrieved 12 December After the Heart of God.
Retrieved Eerdmans Publishing. Although in the days of the Jerusalem Temple the high priest indeed faced east when sacrificing on Yom Kippur, the sanctuary within which he stood was located at the west end of the Temple. The Christian replication of the layout and the orientation of the Jerusalem Temple helped to dramatize the eschatological meaning attached to the sacrificial death of Jesus the High Priest in the Epistle to the Hebrews" The Biblical Roots of Church Orientation by Helen Dietz.
Mystery and Matter. Historical Dictionary of Anglicanism.
Scarecrow Press. Archived from the original on Hoare and Caroline S. This is also what is stated in the original text in Latin of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal , which reads, " Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit.
That the English translation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, is misleading is the view of, for instance, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf  and Fr. Timothy Johnson . New Liturgical Movement. The Diocese of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 22 June In subsequent centuries the practice was clearly understood as rooted in Scripture and tradition and survived the Reformation in the Church of England. According to Dearmer: The ancient custom of turning to the East, or rather to the altar, for the Gloria Patri and the Gloria in Excelsis survived through the slovenly times, and is now common amongst us.
The choir also turned to the altar for the intonation of the Te Deum, and again for its last verse.
We get a glimpse of the custom after the last revision [i. It thus rests upon a common English custom three centuries old, and it is in every way an excellent practice.