ORIENTATION TOWARD THE EAST
In Malachi, it is written that Christ is the Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 4:2). The Copts pray toward the East. The glorious Second Coming of Christ will appear in the East, in which He will come to judge the living and the dead. Christ described it as follows: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:27).
Hippolytus of Rome presented the Church as a ship sailing toward the east and toward heavenly paradise. In the third century Origen, in his book on Prayer, highlighted that prayer should be oriented toward the east. In the fourth century, according to Lactancius, in his poem De ave Phoenice, which was inspired from the book of the Physiologus, the phoenix (which is a representation of Christ) flies toward the east. Also in the same century, the Didascalia, written in Syria, mentioned that prayer should be oriented toward the east.
During the martyrdom of Epima, it is stated that the Christians were praying toward the east while the pagans were praying toward the west. Excavation of the necropolis site of Fag al-Gamous in Fayoum showed that the orientation of the corpses before the second century was eastward. A change to the opposite direction of orientation of the body was also noticed during the same era of Christianity.
Consequently, in the baptismal rite during the renunciation of Satan, the person to be baptized is required to look toward the west, and stretch out his right hand and say, “I renounce thee, Satan.” Then he turns toward the east and stretching both hands says, “I join myself to Thee, Christ.”