Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Anniversary of Father Schmemann's Death

Father Alexander Schmemann died on this day in 1983. I find it a bit ironic that three of the people I quote the most all died within the same week in December. Anyway, Father Alexander was an Orthodox priest, theologian and in my estimation one of the greatest writers of the last century. Here is an excerpt from his Journal:

Nowadays, expecially in the U.S., the Church is perceived as an enterprise, an activity. The priest constantly harasses people to do something for the Church. And their activism is measured by quantitative criteria: how many meetings, how much money, how much "doing." I'm not sure it is all necessary. What is dangerous is not activity itself, but the reduction of the Church, the identification of this activity with life in the Church. The idea of the Church, the sacramental principle of its life, lies in taking us away from activity ("let us put aside all earthly cares"), in making us commune with a new life, eternity, the Kingdom. And the idea of the Church, the principle of its life also demands that we would bring into the world this experience of a new life so that we would purify this world, illumine it with the non-worldliness of the experience of the Church. Quite often the opposite happens: we bring activity into the Church, the fuss of this world, and submit the Church, poison its life with incessant fuss. What happens is not that life becomes the Church, but the Church becomes worldly.