- 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: 5.8 x 0.5 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 86 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy Paperback – 1973
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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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Expositing the sacrament of Time and the various ordinances/mysteries (Eucharist, Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, Matrimony, Ordination, Unction) in the Orthodox tradition, Schmemann graces us with a passionate guide on how these are not to be co-opted by the world as the innocuous religious rites of hatch, match and despatch but the very windows through which we see the world in the process of being recapitulated by God. Hence, they are intimately connected with the mission and calling of the church to be the witnesses of Christ, who has offered himself as the sacrifice for the life of the world. For example, the Eucharist is the restoration of food as not just something for the stomach but as a means of communion with God. It satisfies our real hunger for God. Sunday is not just a day-off to do religious things, quite independent of the workaday week but the first day of the new creation! It invites us to enter into the Time (kairos) of God's new kingdom inaugurated on the Resurrection morning. While the secularist bemoans that 'there's nothing new under the sun'(Eccl 1), the Sunday liturgy points to the day when 'God will make all things new' (Rev 21)!
Though written from an Orthodox perspective, it will find ready resonance from Christians across the board, especially those from a liturgical background and are attuned to how the sacraments work and what they are meant to be - as the intersections of heaven and earth as well as the physical signs of a larger objective spiritual reality.
However, a caveat for those looking for a simpler introduction to Orthodox sacramental theology, this may not be the book for you. While articulate and clear a writer Schmemann certainly is, he does not make for straightforward reading, as it assumes a certain level of familarity with liturgical (even Orthodox) language and he writes with a quasi-poetic style. I would recommend instead the introductory books by Timothy Ware and Daniel Clendenin.
This book is comforting, challenging, and stimulating... and has refined my perspective on life, the world, worship, and the sacraments. A blessing to read that I plan to gift to close friends.
One, the text works well for laity who have little academic training, but want a truly deeply provoking book on the sacramental and liturgictal life of the Church. Secondly, it is written well enough for academics to read and pondure insightful scholarship on doctrines such as the Eucharist and its revelance when looking at the creation, man's present condition, and the Kingdom of God. Further, it gives a perspective not often read about in Western Protestant circles and brings historical tecahings into a mystical, yet, understandable (though not completely comprehendable) way. This may appeal to Western Christians who want mystery, but are afraid of leaviing there mind at the door.
This book is a must read. Edifying for all, whether Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox.