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For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy Paperback – 1973


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 151 pages
  • Publisher: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press; 2nd Revised & enlarged edition (1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0913836087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0913836088
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Father Alexander Schmemann (+1983) 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.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Simply put, this is one of the greatest books of any genre I have ever read.
Conor B. Dugan
This incarnational understanding of the Christian Faith presents the world itself - created by God and declared good - as something to be redeemed through Christ.
Labarum
This book provides a very good theological discussion of the liturgical traditions of the Orthodox Church.
Xavier Thelakkatt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Volkert Volkersz on August 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
"For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy," by Alexander Schmemann, is a significant work for understanding the Orthodox--and therefore ancient Christian--view of sacraments and sacramental living. Two additional essays, written in the early 1970s: "Worship in a Secular Age," and "Sacrament and Symbol," are fitting appendices to the title work, which was originally published as a study guide for a 1963 National Christian Student Federation conference.
Schmemann states that we were created to live in a sacramental relationship with God and the creation, but this life was lost in the Fall of Adam and Eve. Christ, who gave his life "for the life of the world," came to restore this sacramental relationship, not only with God, but with all of Creation.
Schmemann writes that the purpose of the book "is to remind its readers that in Christ, life--life in all its totality--was returned to man, given again as sacrament and communion, made Eucharist." He goes on to discuss the importance of this understanding for our mission in the world.
I know many individuals who have wondered how the Eastern Orthodox and Christians in the West (both Roman Catholic and Protestant) can use the same terminology and mean different things. Sometimes the differences are subtle, sometimes radical. Schmemann believes that secularism is at the heart of those differences, and that secularism was born when scholars in the West sought to analyze, define and explain the sacraments, most significantly the Eucharist (or Communion).
By picking apart the meaning and "the elements" of Communion, scholasticism allowed the Eucharist to be divorced from the context of the Liturgy. Therefore, in order to satisfy an increasingly scientific approach, the West began to separate the sacred from the secular.
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Labarum VINE VOICE on November 25, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Occasionally one will stumble upon a book so filled with simple Christian wisdom as to take one's breath away. Such is the case with For the Life of the World by the late Orthodox writer Alexander Schmemann. Originally written as a study guide on the Sacraments for a conference, the impact was so great it was decided to make the study more widely available in book form. The decision to publish has certainly been vindicated - the book has been influential not just with the Orthodox but throughout the Christian world and has profoundly affected (for the better) the Christian understanding of the Sacraments.
From the first sentence we are taken into a view of the Sacraments immersed in the historic liturgy of the Church. For Schmemann, the Western Church commits a fundamental error in attempting to analyze the Sacraments as "objects" in isolation from the liturgical context that gives them meaning. Instead, the Sacraments are the act of the Church within its liturgy to transform the world through Christ by offering the world and ourselves to the Father. 
Each of the recognized Sacraments of the Orthodox Church are considered within the liturgical life of the Church. This incarnational understanding of the Christian Faith presents the world itself - created by God and declared good - as something to be redeemed through Christ. Rejecting both the semi-gnostic anti-Sacramentalism of some Protestants as well as the view of medieval Roman Catholicism that bordered on "magic", Schmemann returns to a patristic view of the Sacramental life.
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67 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Darren White on January 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
A subtitle of 'Sacraments and Orthodoxy' likely draws a disinterested note in the minds of many, yet the true magic of Fr. Schmemann's writing is its ability to broach such intricate and essential subjects with all the magnetism of a brilliant poet. His words speak almost like a song, and draw the reader into a heartfelt and meaningful discussion of the very centre of Orthodox Christian life.
One of Fr. Schmemann's great legacies to Orthodoxy in America --and indeed, the world-- was the energy he put into revitalizing the sacramental spirit of its people. 'For the Life of the World' is a book which seeks just that goal: to remind Christians of their Eucharistic centre, and open their eyes to a way of living life 'sacramentally.' It is a book that discusses the heart of Orthodox theology, yet it is a simple book. It is a book that discusses the greatest mysteries of creation, yet in the most personal of manners.
There are few books which, in so few pages, can make so great an impact on their readers. So strong was its spiritual impact when first published as a paper, that this book was hand-translated into common Russian and smuggled into that country to serve as a help for the persecuted faithful.
'For the Life of the World' is one book that, truly, no heartfelt Christian person should be without.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Charles Curtis on October 27, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am Catholic. I began reading Orthodox theology about five years ago, after experiencing the Orthodox liturgy in the most dramatic and sublime manner possible: at Pascha vigil. It simply blew me away. In thirty years of weekly mass attendance I had never seen anything remotely approaching what I encountered that night.

That unknown beauty both crushed and liberated me. It revolutionized my worldview.

I began reading everything I could on ecclesiology, Church history, liturgy, and Orthodox apologetics. For Orthodox thinkers I dug into Lossky, Fr. Meyendorff, Elder Ephraim, Archbishop Kalistos Ware, the Philokalia, Pere Clement, St. Gregory Palamas, the Desert Fathers, the Cappadocian Fathers, St. John Climacus, Solzenhitzen, so on & forth. It was all utterly amazing. I had had no idea.

This book though, is a standout even amongst such rarified company. Schmemann is simply stunning. From the first page he piles insight atop insight. I've given my copy of the book away, so I haven't got it in front of me. Still, from memory I can tell you that he takes and reveals to you blatantly obvious truths about the sacramental life that have been right in front of our noses all along. That all of creation is in fact Eucharistic, rent with power of the Resurrection. You will never approach the chalice with the same mind again, once you've read it.

Orthodox theology and spirituality is most often like this: limpid & fierce, uncompromising. Very bracing, in a culture as decadent and corrupt in it's thinking as ours.

Shamefully, only the very best in contemporary Catholicism - both in terms of liturgy and theology - can touch or exceed the Orthodox average.
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