Feast of St Innocent, Enlightener of Siberia & Alaska
For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy by Alexander Schmemann
THIS WATERSHED work of sacramental theology is really a fundamental redefinition of terms—secular, religious, worship, sacrament, sin, symbol—framed within an interpretive, movement-by-movement description of the Liturgy. It owes its greatness and its transforming power to Schmemann’s sense of the essential: that our fundamental role as human beings was to offer creation in love to God; that instead we used it as an end in itself, inevitably introducing death into the world; that in the Liturgy we resume our original eucharistic role through Christ’s perfect self-offering to the Father on our behalf; that through this Sacrament par excellence, the whole universe can again become transparent to the presence of God. Schmemann has no patience with theologies that isolate the Liturgy, as a “cultic” or “religious” act, from “the life of the world.” He refuses to oppose symbol and real presence, powerfully reminding us of the patristic sense of the term as the “bringing together” of two realities. He is equally impatient with theologies that reduce the essence of the Eucharist to a question of “validity” rather than joy. This small book is radical and profound, in the truest sense of those words. It is all-embracing in its vision of the liturgical act that creates and defines the Church.
151 pp. paper $18.00
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