My class would like to know if you should have an icon on your east wall in your home? Can you provide a little explanation about that? Also, is it true all our (Ukrainian Catholic) churches face east (when you enter the church the iconostasis east)? Thank you!

Response From: Fr. Jim


Thank you and your class for your question. Icons can be placed on any wall in your home, but traditionally significance is given to having a prayer corner or wall that is east so that when one prays before the icons the viewer faces east. The focus on the east is theologically significant since it is in the east that the sun rises, which represents the second coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in all of His glory.

For this same reason, Byzantine (Catholic or Orthodox) churches would be situated so that the altar is at the eastern end of the church, so that when you enter from the west you are facing the east, where the iconostasis and altar are. In modern cities, this is not always practical with the land that is available, so churches may be constructed in other directions, but the majority of rural churches and urban churches are constructed with an east-west orientation. Even in many rural areas, you may see churches that have been constructed with the back of the church facing the road, in order that the altar remains in the east and the entrance or the front of the church is on the western facade.