Father Alexander Schmemann was a prolific writer, brilliant lecturer, and dedicated pastor. Former dean and professor of liturgical theology at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, his insight into contemporary culture and liturgical celebration left an indelible mark on the Christian community worldwide. This collection combines classic works on theology, liturgy, and the sacraments. Combining pastoral insight and deep reflection, Schmemann provides an authentic exploration of the Orthodox faith.
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The first of these sermons, under the title The Celebration of Faith uses the themes of faith, revelation, and the Nicene Creed as the symbol of faith. Though generally directed towards those in the church, these talks are unique in that they speak also to the person not in the church, to the person who has had no experience whatsoever of things “religious,” or whose experience of “religion has convinced him of it emptiness. There are no “prerequisites” for appreciating these talks, no special knowledge required of the vocabulary of the Orthodox Church. Fr Alexander’s only assumption is that he is speaking to “seekers,” to those who have a spiritual thirst, a yearning for something indefinable that calls them out of themselves. And in speaking to the non-religious “seeker,” he reaches also the religious “seeker” as well, the one who is seeking to grow in his faith, life and understanding of God’s revelation in Christ and the Church.
There is no human society without celebrations, holidays and feasts, “The feast is part of man’s inescapable rhythm of work and rest,” observes Fr Schmemann. But beyond the need to rest from work, the development of celebrations in human culture has much deeper root in man's absolutely irrepressible need, not just for rest, but for joy, for meaning that we find the true source of celebration and its tenacity in human society. Feasts, in every culture, have become the repository and expression of a society’s goals, ambitions, and worldview. As Fr Schmemann writes, “tell me what you celebrate, and I will tell you who you are.”
Christianity is also best understood through its celebrations rather than through abstract dogmatic and theological formulas. Orthodox Christianity in particular has from its earliest days expressed its faith, its understanding of the world and its approach to life through a network of feasts that embrace the entire year. "Without exaggeration we can say that the believer lives from feast to feast, and that for him these feasts sanctify all time through the coming and going of each season."
In this volume, Fr Schmemann examines first the phenomenon of celebration and then its expression in the Orthodox Christian church year, focusing especially on the Christmas and Easter cycles.
This volume, the third in a collection of sermons by Fr Alexander Schmemann, is on a topic that was particularly close to his heart: the Virgin Mary. The “Theotokos,” as Mary is usually referred to among the Orthodox, figures prominently in Byzantine liturgical worship. While no single service is without one or more references to her, Eastern Orthodox theological manuals have little to say about Mary beyond repeating the primarily Christological titles affirmed by the Third Ecumenical Council—“Theotokos,” “Birthgiver of God.”
It is to the Eastern liturgical tradition, then, that one must turn for a more developed Mariology. Eastern hymnographers, drawing on Scripture, the early Christian Apocrypha and on a rich theological tradition, went far beyond the laconic definition of the Third Ecumenical Council. Fr Schmemann draws on all these to explain Mariology to a modern audience.
The first part of this volume consists of a series of sermons originally delivered in Russian over Radio Liberty. The message is direct and simple, addressed to a largely unchurched audience.
In the second part, comprised of chapters two through five, Fr Schmemann addresses an academic audience in a series of lectures entitled: “Mary: the Archetype of Mankind,” “On Mariology in Orthodoxy,” “Mary in Eastern Liturgy,” and an especially insightful chapter entitled “Mary and the Holy Spirit.”
Of what life do we speak, what life do we preach, proclaim, and announce when, as Christians, we confess that Christ died for the life of the world?
In For the Life of the World Alexander Schmemann suggests an approach to the world and life within it, which stems from the liturgical experience of the Orthodox Church. He understands issues such as secularism and Christian culture from the perspective of the unbroken experience of the Church, as revealed and communicated in her worship, in her liturgy—the sacrament of the world, the sacrament of the Kingdom.
For over half a century For the Life of the Worldhas challenged, illumined, and inspired readers from many backgrounds. For some it is an introduction to the Orthodox Church, while for others it is a call to plunge more deeply into the life of the Kingdom, both manifested and anticipated here and now in the liturgy of the Church. This updated edition of Schmemann’s classic text includes a new foreword by Dr Edith M. Humphrey, along with new explanatory notes and an index.
This revised edition of Father Alexander Schmemann’s Lenten classic examines the meaning of Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, the Prayer of St Ephraim the Syrian, the Canon of St Andrew of Crete and other neglected or misunderstood treasures of Lenten worship. Schmemann draws on the Church's sacramental and liturgical tradition to suggest the meaning of “Lent in our life.”
The Lenten season is meant to kindle a “bright sadness” within our hearts. Its aim is precisely the remembrance of Christ, a longing for a relationship with God that has been lost. Lent offers the time and place for recovery of this relationship. The darkness of Lent allows the flame of the Holy Spirit to burn within our hearts until we are led to the brilliance of the Resurrection.
Alexander Schmemann’s Introduction to Liturgical Theology is a masterful historical and critical introduction to the study of modern Orthodox liturgics and theology. There is scarcely a student of Christian worship who has not been stirred by the brilliant mind of the late Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann.
Alexander Schmemann was deeply stimulated by modern movements and figures in Western Christian thought. He brings into the Western discussion of Christian unity, the relation of the Church to the world in revolution, the question of papal supremacy, and the effort to commend the gospel to a post-Christian world, a worldview at once Orthodox, patristic, and realistic. His sacramental realism and wholeness is exciting and refreshing for those, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, who have been reared on scholastic categories.
The present work was basic to much of Schmemann’s academic research and creativity. In it, he defines liturgical theology, noting that the dynamic realism of the Eucharistic liturgy often has been obscured in popular liturgical piety. This theme is developed in reference to the shape of worship as it evolved in the Orthodox Church, from the earliest years to its crystallization in Byzantium from the ninth through the twelfth centuries.
The Eucharist is the crowning achievement of the well-known liturgical scholar, Alexander Schmemann. It reflects his entire life experience and thoughts on the Divine Liturgy, the Church’s central act of self-realization.
Alexander Schmemann was an influential Orthodox Christian priest, teacher, and writer. From 1946 to 1951 he taught in Paris, and afterwards in New York. In his teachings and writings he sought to establish the close links between Christian theology and Christian liturgy.
Zachery Joseph Moore