Orthodox Educators

Picture of Alexander Schmemann

Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983), an émigré from Estonia who grew up in Paris, was an Orthodox protopresbyter, leader in the Orthodox Church in America, and dean of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary from 1962 to 1983.

He is best known for his writings on liturgy, especially the sacraments, which have influenced the teaching ministry in all branches of Christianity. He showed how liturgy redefines reality, and in particular critiques secular society.

His approach to education was grounded in liturgical theology, and it integrated "monastic" and "academic" elements-the life of prayer with the life of intellectual inquiry. As an educator he taught Orthodox about their Tradition, and the West about Orthodoxy.

Biography

It is hard to sum up any human life in a few sentences, let alone the full life of Alexander Schmemann. Yet at least once he saw how tersely his own life could be encapsulated, if looked at from the outside. At age 52, he wrote in his journal:

Dean, Protopresbyter, professor: I sometimes feel (especially on a sunny solitary morning like today) that it has nothing to do with me personally, that it is a poor mask, and yet, 90 percent of my life is determined by these titles. If I take off the mask, people are shocked … [entry dated October 12, 1973] (2000, p.16).

The title "protopresbyter"-sometimes called "archpriest," though the two are not quite synonymous-is the highest honor that can be given to an Orthodox priest who is married.

But the words that state his titles do not tell us what lies behind the mask or beneath the words; and it is the deeper reality of simple words and actions (such as those in Baptism and the Eucharist) that greatly concerned Fr Schmemann. In the same journal entry just quoted he reflected on the word "Christianity," noting:

There is no point in converting people to Christ if they do not convert their vision of the world and of life, since Christ then becomes merely a symbol for all that we love and want already-without Him. This kind of Christianity is more terrifying than agnosticism or hedonism (2000, p.16).

As for his own vision of the world, it too could be summed up tersely. At least so he told his son-in-law, Thomas Hopko, one sunny day as they were sitting and talking in Labelle, Canada. Schmemann was 47 at the time, it was 15 years before he died at age 62, yet ever aware of death and life he gave this summation, which Fr Hopko related during the divine liturgy following his death:

He said to me: "When I die, you can write my in memoriam in one brief paragraph." He said, "You just have to say that my whole worldview, my whole life, could be summed up in one little sentence: two 'nos,' one 'yes,' and eschatology-two 'nos,' one 'yes,' and the Kingdom to come" (Hopko, 1984, p. 46).

This short formula requires a couple of paragraphs to explain-and perhaps several decades to assess. The first no was to secularism, which Schmemann defined as any attempt to discover in this world, in and of itself, any meaning, purpose or happiness. In itself, this world is a cosmic graveyard (Schmemann, 2002, p. 100). It has no meaning. Here Schmemann, an avid reader of Russian literature, quoted Tolstoy: "and after a stupid life there shall come a stupid death" (2002, p. 74).

The second no was to religion, a word to which he gave special meaning. He meant no to the kind of ancient religion that simply rejected the world and accepted death. Christ came to defeat death, not merely reconcile people to it. And Christ died for the life of the world, not just to provide an escape from it. So no to ancient religion. But no also meant no to modern religion that makes itself an appendage to secularism-religion that thinks the life of the world is to be found in this world, rather than in God. So no to religion that aims to help people adapt to this world and its sinful patterns, rather than transforming them. For Christ did not come to bring religion or to teach people how to cope with their problems, or to appoint apostles who would join the ranks of the helping professions. He came to bring forth the Kingdom of God.

This then is the one yes-yes to the Kingdom of God. And yes to the "eschatology" that declares how the Kingdom of God-its reign of peace and of joy that God intends in the end for all creation-can be found already in the Church, the Body of Christ, through the liturgical and sacramental vision entrusted to her. It is present here and now.

For Alexander Schmemann, here and now began on May 13, 1921, the date of his birth in Reval, Estonia. His family had moved from Russia, and they moved again, to Paris, when he was a young child. Many Russians left their country after the 1917 revolution, with hopes of a reunion "next year in Moscow," but then gradually redirected their attention elsewhere. First France, then America became frontiers. John Meyendorff describes the urban atmosphere of Schmemann's early years:

The "Russian Paris" of the 1930s was a world unto itself. Numbering tens of thousands and including intellectuals, artists, theologians, grand dukes and former tsarist ministers, publishing daily papers and settling political divisions in hot arguments, Russian émigrés still dreamt of a return home (1990, p. 145).

This dream receded as the Stalin years lagged on; the Schmemanns, like others, learned what it meant to be Russian while living in diaspora. Throughout his life Schmemann identified himself as Russian, though he never even visited his homeland, refusing on principle to go there while it was under communist regime (Scorer, 1984, p. 65).

The Russian enclave in Paris maintained separate schools and young Alexander (or Sasha, as his family and friends knew him) went first to a Russian military school in Versailles, then to a Russian gimnazii (high school). He continued his education by studying at a French lycée, then at the University of Paris. Early on he agreed with Dostoevsky that Russian culture ought to be pan-European.

From his teenage years he also became drawn toward the Orthodox Church. His education here came through experiencing the liturgy at the large St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on rue Daru, where he served first as an altar boy then as a sub-deacon. He recalled in later years how the clergy who mentored him there were both traditional and intellectual, orthodox in practice and open in conversation. This formative training, notes Fr Meyendorff, gave Alexander a certain love for pomp and ceremony that remained with him all his life (1990, p. 146).

During the 1930s and 40s, Russian theologians flocked to Paris, the "capital" of Russian emigration (Schmemann, 1972, p. 175). Meanwhile French theologians were directly intense focus on issues of liturgy. Schmemann drew readily from both Russian and French streams of thought. During World War II and the occupation of France, he studied at the Theological Institute of St. Sergius in Paris (from 1940 to 1945), which was seminal in his development as a theologian.

Students at St. Sergius encountered two different trajectories of Orthodox thinking-the sophiological speculations of Sergius Bulgakov (then dean of the Institute) and the historical theology of Georges Florovsky (Kadavil, 2005, p. 166; cf., Schmemann, 1966, pp. 7-8). Schmemann had great respect for Bulgakov, but Florovsky became the much larger influence. Greater still was the influence of Nicholas Afanassiev, a professor of canon law. Afanassiev's ideas on eucharistic ecclesiology are ingrained in many of Schmemann's writings.

Other notable theologians with whom Schmemann interacted at St. Sergius include A. V. Kartashev, whose propensity for critical analysis encouraged his incisive bent, and Cyprian Kern, who became his spiritual father and friend (Meyendorff, 1990, p. 148). Overall, the years at St. Sergius in Paris exposed Schmemann to a heterogeneous range of teachers: some adhered to the pre-revolutionary theological establishment, others turned to Marxist philosophy, and still others, like him, sought to do justice to the contemporary context while staying faithful to church tradition.

These were also family years. He and Juliana Ossorguine were married in 1943 when Schmemann was 22. Juliana was then studying classics at the Sorbonne. She came from a traditional, church-oriented Russian family. Friends reported how the new family she and Alexander formed was for both of them a source of joy and inspiration. Juliana went on to become headmistress of the Spence School in New York City. Their son Serge became a Moscow correspondent for The New York Times, winning a Pulitzer Prize for his writing. Their daughter Anne became a matushka (literally, "little mother," or wife of an Orthodox priest); she married Thomas Hopko, who went on to serve as a dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary. Their daughter Mary (Masha) became active in women's ministry and education in the Orthodox Church of America.

The rhythms and seasons of family life caught Schmemann's attention. He noted, for example, how an "icon" of married love could be seen in an elderly couple, holding hands and sitting silently on a park bench in Paris in the sunlight of an autumn afternoon (Plekon, 2002, p. 200). As a theologian he set these happenings into the context of an eschatological understanding of time and the larger overarching rhythm of God's action in history-the rhythm of promise and fulfillment, which is reflected in the liturgies of the Church. In later years, after her husband's death, Juliana recalled the importance of the liturgy in their family life. She wrote, in a talk for French television:

What saved both of us from a fragmentation which would have been difficult to avoid, from a pull into different directions-the children, their education (our three children who, by the way, never gave us anything but happiness), the seminary, the difficulty of making ends meet each month, students and all the rest-what saved us was above all our belonging to the Church, the services, the joy of Great Saturday or of a simple weekday Liturgy (1986, 16).

As part of his five-year degree at St. Sergius, Schmemann wrote a thesis on Byzantine theocracy. Upon graduation he began as an instructor in Church History at St. Sergius, teaching there from 1946 to 1951. Early in his teaching career he developed a particular interest in the Council of Florence. The historical topics he chose-the Byzantine alliance of Church and State, the medieval confrontation between Constantinople and Rome-gave way, or gave rise, to an existential concern about the "survival" and identity of the Russian Orthodox Church in the present hour. Everyone could see that the Church would not exist as a State church, and Schmemann along with others believed that it should not exist merely as a supplier of Russian cultural identity. For him, the only life-giving choice was revival, and the path to revival was through sacrament and liturgy.

The cornerstone was to be Baptism, which in Orthodoxy includes Chrismation and is conjoined with the Eucharist. Schmemann argued that more education is needed, and education needed to be more than teaching people "to memorize the two-line definition given to it [Baptism] in a manual." It must show how Baptism is not an isolated "means of grace among many," but rather "the only source of a truly Orthodox worldview and of a truly Christian life" (Schmemann, 1974, p. 151).

Schmemann's frame of mind was shared by others in the 1940s and 50s. As just noted, French Roman Catholicism was experiencing its own liturgical movement, with theologians such as Jean Danielou and Louis Bouyer endeavoring to reclaim the paschal mystery (Meyendorff, 1990, p. 149). Schmemann had integrated their ideas into his own when he came to the United States in 1951.

The catalyst for this move from Paris to New York was an invitation to join the faculty of St. Vladimir's Seminary. Georges Florovsky had become dean there in 1949, and Schmemann seems to have been drawn by the "brightness of Florovsky's theological mind" and by the vision of an Orthodox mission that would be both rooted in the Orthodox tradition yet open to the best offerings of the West (Meyendorff, 1990, p. 150). The start of Orthodoxy in America actually went back to the Alaskan mission of the 18th-century, though this work among peoples of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands had not directly affected the growth of Orthodoxy in the United States (Kadavil, 2005, pp. 166-7).

In the U.S., Schmemann soon became recognized as a leading authority on Orthodox liturgical theology. A number of institutions invited him to speak and teach, including Columbia University, New York University, Union Theological Seminary and General Theological Seminary in New York (The New York Times, 1983). While making ecumenical connections in America, he maintained ties with Europe. In 1959, he obtained his doctorate from St. Sergius, with Nicholas Afanassiev and John Meyendorff acting as examiners (Meyendorff, 1990, p 151).

In 1962, St. Vladimir's moved from its quarters in New York City (at Broadway and 121st Street) to the suburb of Crestwood. At the same time Fr Schmemann accepted the post of dean, which he held until his death in 1983.

A critical year was 1970, when the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) became established as autocephalous-i.e., independent from the Russian Orthodox Church, though its autocephaly was not universally recognized. The intent was to have a church in America that would be indigenous and unified, rather than composed of overlapping (even competing) jurisdictions. As one of the principle architects of autocephaly, Schmemann represented the OCA in negotiations with Moscow and Constantinople that were at times tense.

For 30 years, Fr Schmemann's sermons were broadcast in Russian on Radio Liberty. He recorded almost three thousand "Sunday Talks," covering a range of topics, such as the Nicene Creed, the liturgical feasts and the Mother of God. He gained a broad audience among Christians in the USSR. Alexander Solzhenitsyn was one of his listeners, and the two became friends after Solzhenitsyn emigrated to the West.

As a teacher, Schmemann often found it easier to talk than to write. He noted in his journal on Oct. 23, 1979:

Lecturing always gives me joy. Last evening about Tolstoy. Today, a course on liturgics, about the Holy Spirit. Why can I speak rather easily and while speaking give birth to thought, yet find it so difficult to write? (2000, p. 236).

Yet write he did. He published numerous articles and books, some of which have had a steady and growing influence in the years following his death. For the life of the world-a group of essays that describe how the liturgy redefines the rest of life-has been translated into at least eleven languages. His book on Baptism, Of water and the spirit, has been read by theologians in many branches of Christianity; for example, when the Presbyterian Church revised its teaching on the sacraments in the 1980s, this book was a key resource (2000, p. 322).

Schmemann's work included ecumenical involvement. He participated in the Second Vatican Council as an observer and representative of the Russian Orthodox Church (Kadavil, 2005, p. 174). In the World Council of Churches, he served as Vice-Chairman of the Youth Department when he was in France, and later served briefly on the "Faith and Order Commission."

In the 1970's Schmemann joined an ecumenical group of nineteen authors who wrote the Hartford appeal for the future of American religion. The essays that emerged from this project criticized ideas in American Christianity that the authors believed were "pervasive, false and debilitating"-for example, the notion that "Modern thought is superior to all past forms of understanding reality, and is therefore normative for Christian faith and life" (Berger and Neuhaus, 1976, p. 1). Schmemann wrote an essay for this project entitled, "East and west may yet meet: Hartford and the future of orthodoxy." He also wrote, in his journal, how he felt ambivalent about his whole involvement:

I spent two days in meetings with the Hartford Group. This morning there was a Mass, at which all eighteen participants took communion, except me. In spite of a friendly atmosphere, I strongly felt my Orthodox alienation from all the debates, their very spirit. Orthodoxy is often imprisoned by evil and sin. The Christian West is imprisoned by heresies-not one of them, in the long run, goes unpunished [entry dated Sept. 7, 1975] (2002, pp. 85-86).

Father Schmemann was 62 when he died at his home in Crestwood, N.Y. He fell asleep in the Lord on December 13, 1983, St. Herman's feast. His wife Juliana later recalled his passing, in words worth quoting at length:

When he learned, in a totally unexpected and unforeseeable manner, that he had cancer in his lungs and in his brain, already in a rather advanced stage, he accepted his destiny in the full meaning of the word, calmly and serenely, without useless words, and with an immense strength which was altogether hidden. I remember very well the exact time when this took place. It was a moment of total clarity and total lucidity, and the signal for departure on a journey. His acceptance was without emotion, but a great joy entered our lives. It was not the joy of self-sacrifice or of a martyr who accepts his fate. It was joy pure and simple, the joy he had preached all his life, but which was now intensified because one felt that he was seeing the Kingdom, the doors of the Kingdom. Everything else was finished-or rather was about to begin. A lifetime's struggle to preach, to communicate, to convince was past, while the great journey which, in effect, would set him free had begun. He was like the women to whom Christ appeared after his Resurrection and said: 'Rejoice!' His illness and progress towards death were without a doubt an even more immediate vision of the Lord. With even greater simplicity, with total faith, he waited, as he had once written, for 'the never-ending day of the Kingdom'.

His death was in truth an act of life, the feast of his death.

As death approached, it was like a train which, after the whistle, moves off, puffs and begins to roll slowly at first with all the sounds of the wheels and the steam, then travels even faster and even more quietly towards … towards the goal of everyone's journey, towards the doors of the Kingdom which were standing open for him and which he approached with peace and thanksgiving. Never had I seen him so radiant, so thankful, so patient.

Three days before his death he was anointed. He was very weak, and we were not sure how he would react, but at the end of the prayers, he said in a clear and strong voice: 'Amen, amen, amen.'

This was the fiat, the 'so be it', of his whole life (1986, 19-22).


Contributions to Christian Education

Unlike many persons featured in "Christian Educators of the 20th Century," Alexander Schmemann did not do his academic degree in education. But his impact on the field has been felt both in the people whose lives he touched and in the ideas he set forth.

Prominent Orthodox educators, including Sophie Koulomzin, Constance Tarasar and John Boojamra, were especially influenced by his writings, his deanship at St. Vladimir's, and his contributions to the Orthodox Education Commission.

More than anyone, Schmemann was responsible for making sure that the Orthodox liturgy remained the central focus of Orthodox religious education. If someone today refers to "worship" as the heart of Christian education, it is good to recall that he was one of the first and most eloquent proponents of this idea in recent times.

"Father Schmemann was above all a teacher," writes Orthodox scholar Michael Plekon. "The Tradition of the Church, the truth of the gospel, the glory of the liturgy-all this was faithfully transmitted, one could say incarnationally embodied and personally communicated by him. Tapes of his retreat conferences and lectures capture the forceful qualities of his preaching and teaching" (2002, p.181).

In teaching, writing and personal embodiment, Schmemann integrated the "academic" life of intellectual inquiry with the "monastic" life of prayerful liturgy. Starting with the ancient dictum, lex orandi, lex est credendi, we may say that Father Schmemann articulated how the rule of prayer becomes the rule of faith within the contexts of contemporary Western culture.

He opposed both the atheistic materialism of the Soviet Union and the consumeristic spiritualism of the United States. In his view, we can learn the material world (not just learn about, but truly know it) through the sacraments. For the sacraments teach us that the whole world-starting with bread, wine and water, yet extending to the furthest reaches of creation-is meant to be a means of Holy Communion with God.

In turn, we can truly learn the sacraments only through the liturgy. For the liturgy teaches us that knowledge comes to us not only through "objective" detachment, but by participation in mystery.

Reasoning in this manner, Schmemann offered theological groundwork for a program of education with two trajectories, in the direction of worship and in the direction of the world. He showed how the two are not opposed but complementary-since the world is sacramental, and sacraments are a participation in the divine life.

We can glimpse this frame of mind by reviewing a short, seminal essay he wrote-the final essay in Church, world and mission, entitled "The world as sacrament." The title draws together "the two great preoccupations of Christian thought and activity today" (1997, p. 218). In the decades before the essay was presented as a paper in 1964, one could see across Christianity a renewed concern for the world. Increasingly people were coming to believe that the Church existed for the sake of the whole world, not simply to satisfy the religious needs of individuals.

At the same time, the Church was engaged in a rediscovery of sacrament. Increasingly theologians were coming to see that sacraments are not just important events punctuating the lives of individuals, but essentially all of Christian living is sacramental. Schmemann presses this idea further, saying that God intends the whole world, all of creation, to be a sacrament; he makes this claim without losing sight of how Christ inaugurates a distinct reality.

The notion of the world as sacrament may strike the reader as profound or obvious, but the true force of Schmemann's assertion derives from his basic approach to understanding these two terms, world and sacrament. He rejects Western juridical models, and also scientific-sounding models, which even Orthodox theologians had adopted over the centuries. Though such models attempt to construct clear and lucid definitions, ironically they tend to obscure the things defined. Because the definitions draw upon categories not indigenous to the worshiping life of the Church, their abstraction becomes an obstruction to receiving better knowledge-the knowledge that comes through intuition, the intuition that comes through the experience of sacred mystery. The educator can find herein pointers toward a theory of religious learning.

In Schmemann's view we must approach sacraments through "the liturgical experience, the living tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church" (1997, p. 217). The experience of worship enables us to see the relationship between world and sacrament.

Consider the first term, world. From the Byzantine period, Orthodox theology has tended to see life's deepest truths as antinomies or paradoxes (Meyendorff, 1979, pp. 224-227), and this is how Schmemann says we are to apprehend the world. On the one hand, the world is an object of divine love, creation and care. As John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son…." The world, notes Schmemann, "is to be saved, transfigured, transformed" (1997, p. 219).

On the other hand, and with equal authority, the Scriptures and Tradition speak of the world negatively; it is God's rival, "deceptively claiming our love with its pride and its lust" (1997, p. 219). As 1 John 2:15 instructs, "do not love the world or the things in the world" (Cf., 1990, p. 93).

Extrapolating from Schmemann, these two visions of the world can be construed as a sequence of education. We need to learn first that God created the world and called it good. But seeing how horribly the world has become polluted with injustice and oppression, we need to learn second how to be free and detached from this world. This negative, ascetical move is actually a positive one spiritually, for it is the negation of that which negates God's love.

Yet detachment must not settle into indifference. We need to learn, third, a rightful reconnection: to love the world as God loved it and created it; to love the world as Christ loved it and gave himself for it. In this way we too become agents of the world's transformation-of creation's liberation, as Romans 8 puts it.

Because this educational movement is an ongoing process, there are two dangers to guard against. On the one hand, detachment from the world can lead to self-centered pietism and a lack of regard for God's creation. On the other hand, concern for the world can become severed from its source of life in God's transcendent (and immanent) presence and power (e.g., the "God-is-dead" movement of the 1960s). The best way to avoid both heresies, and do justice to both sides of the antinomy, is to cultivate a vision that can "see the world as sacrament, and ourselves and our whole created environment in sacramental terms" (1997, p. 220). For the sacraments epitomize the movement of transformation that God intends for the whole world.

At the same time, Schmemann suggests, the sacraments themselves also cry out for education. As evidence of miseducation, people have been taught to think of sacraments as a fixed number of isolated acts, whether the number is seven or two. Naming these acts is not the problem, but isolating them from the rest of life is, and the problem is compounded when these acts are construed primarily in terms of the "grace" they offer to individuals. Too often this approach implicitly teaches people that the rest of life is somehow nonsacramental; and that grace is akin to a commodity, rather than being the gift of God's presence and activity in creation. By focusing too narrowly on such questions as the number of sacraments, their institution, and the conditions of their validity, teachers of theology can fail to appreciate the inherent goodness of God's creation. Writes Schmemann:

Consider baptism, for example. We all agree that water is necessary for ordinary baptism: but how often does one feel that a classical theologian really likes water, has ever really noticed what it is? What is so special about water? Or (in the case of another sacrament) about bread and wine? Such questions have been pushed to one side: in considering the matter of the sacraments, the theologians have tended to display a minimizing and reluctant frame of mind, concerning themselves too anxiously with the minimal requirements of mere validity, with the smallest possible trickle of water, with wine measured in drops, with the faintest possible smear of oil. We seem to have wandered very far from the holy materialism ("God so loved the world …") upon which Christian spirituality ought to be based (1997, pp. 220-221).

The same wrongful approach, notes Schmemann, can also reduce grace. For example, if we focus solely upon categorizing grace-as preventing, efficacious, or sanctifying (as if one could measure grace)-it may hinder us from appreciating how God gives grace "in a great torrent."

In recent years theologians and teachers of theology have been more inclined to perceive how the "holy materialism" that Schmemann advocated is far different from and preferable to both the hedonistic materialism of the U.S. and atheistic materialism of the former U.S.S.R., and this change shows part of his contribution to Christian education.

Likewise any approach to Christian education that sees worship as the central starting place owes something to Schmemann's influence. Churches must work toward a new vision by "relating faith and theology once again to worship, claiming the lex orandi back from the dry hands of the antiquarians and reestablishing it as the fertile soil in which (and nowhere else) the lex credendi can fruitfully grow" (1997, p. 221).

Schmemann's reading of the first chapters of Genesis reinforces his sacramental view of the world. God gives the world to humanity to eat and drink. As gift the world is not to be an object of exploitation, but of cultivation-to be transformed, to become life, and so to be offered back as humanity's gift to God. The human person "was created as a priest: the world was created as the matter of the sacrament" (p. 223).

However, the story continues: "But sin came in, breaking this unity: this was no mere issue of broken rules alone, but rather the loss of vision, the abandonment of sacrament." Losing the sacramental sense of the world, fallen humanity treated it as something to consume, by taking and eating of it apart from relationship with God; the world came to be secular and profane. Forfeiting the vocation of priesthood (that of offering the world back to God), fallen humanity came to see itself as "a dying organism in a cold, alien universe" (p. 223).

The story does not end there. Restoration comes through the priesthood of Jesus Christ, the new Adam, the perfect human. Christ makes the world sacred once again by offering himself, and by offering creation-the bread and wine-to God in thanksgiving. In light of this cosmology, the Eucharist is not merely the arbitrary means to a private and limited relationship with God; rather "it is a new creation in Christ of the whole world." (p. 223).

Thus the sacrament of the Eucharist has a duality that corresponds to the duality of the world. On the one hand, the sacrament is rooted in the nature of the world as created by God, and in the goodness of this creation. On the other hand, it is rooted in Christ personally, for he personally enters into the world that has become the site of enslavement and exploitation, in order to redeem and restore it. Only through this perfect person can the broken priesthood of humanity be restored: "Only through Him can the dark, primordial ocean become the living waters of baptism. Only by way of his cross can the dead world come to new life" (p. 224).

The materialism of the sacraments is thus more than a visual aid or concession to the weakness of human minds. Rather God as Teacher intends "to teach us something about the world given to us, and therefore about God's own love for us" (p. 225). When the spiritual and the material are conjoined, then the distinction between natural and supernatural also largely collapses. What we understand as being "supernatural" is really the natural "in an extraordinary degree" (p. 223). Christ himself never spoke of the natural and supernatural, but rather of the old and the new. He did not enter the world to lead an escape from natural toward the supernatural, but to inaugurate the transformation of the old into the new. Sacraments epitomize this movement of the world-its passage or Pascha ("Passover").

The Cross is central to this Passover. First, the Cross reveals this world as fallen. In crucifying Christ, the world shows itself-shows its false colors. The crucifixion is the all-encompassing expression of the world's rejection of God. Every sin is a rejection of God and surrender to evil, but the crucifixion is the ultimate expression. Second, the Cross reveals this evil in order to condemn it, for in crucifying Christ the world condemns itself.

But third, the Cross is also the start of salvation and inauguration of God's reign. For the Cross becomes the enthronement of Christ as king and the epiphany of his glorification: "Now is the Son of Man glorified…" (John 13:31) (1974, p. 89). The Cross likewise becomes the way to enthronement for Christ's disciples. Thus the Cross reveals evil, then condemns evil, then commences God's reign (Haitch, 2007, p.18).

For educational purposes, we note a parallel pattern or grammar of transformation here and in the initial discussion of the world: there is first the realization of a situation or state of affairs that negates the love of God; then a negation of this negation; then a new creation that draws out and heightens the essential goodness inherent in the first creation. While Schmemann's vantage point is clearly Eastern Orthodox, one can readily find points of convergence with the philosophies of Hegel and Kierkegaard, the theologies of Karl Barth and Wolfhart Pannenberg (when they deal with sublation), and the Christian educational theory of James Loder.

Properly apprehended and appreciated, the sacraments also teach us how to participate in God's transformation of the world. We are to be fully committed to the world, but also looking beyond, to the coming presence and power of God that makes all things new (not the same as making all new things). We see the world through God's eyes, loving it with Christ's love.

"We are not to suppose," says Schmemann, "that when jets can fly faster, when doctors can save more lives, Congress will be able to certify that the Kingdom of God has begun. Rather the reverse. The more deeply we think in Eucharistic and therefore eschatological terms, the more acutely we shall be aware that the fashion of this world passeth away, that things only acquire point and meaning and reality in their relationship to Christ's coming in glory. In this context, the un-worldliness and detachment preached by so many moralists return to their full importance" (1997, p. 226). Thus we can still learn from the monastic tradition too.

Schmemann's ideas have contemporary relevance, despite obstacles for some contemporary readers. His critiques of culture, for instance, are at times quite mordant, and off-putting to those who favor gentler, measured tones. His language is mainly gender exclusive, consistent with the era in which he wrote. His reasoning is rife with allusions to the Orthodox liturgies-and since these allusions are fully integral to his arguments a non-Orthodox reader cannot read around them: there is simply the choice to be repelled or attracted by his whole approach of liturgical theology and the worldview it both embraces and elucidates.

In this writer's view, Schmemann's influence will persist, even gaining momentum. For his teachings hold in tension certain polarities, either halves of which alone are dissatisfying to educators and theologians today. For example, his worldview is theocentric, at the same time his theology is grounded in the world. His approach to knowledge values theory and critical thinking, at the same time it recognizes how knowledge comes through the experience of participation-thus his starting point for Christian education is the life of prayer and worship.

Finally, his view of history is eschatological, though not an escapist eschatology that denigrates this life and world, nor a "realized eschatology" of the sort that dims hope for real, substantial change; but rather a coherent, liturgically-informed eschatology where the end and the beginning come together, with nothing wasted along the way.

His own life may manifest in microcosm what he saw happening when he wrote of God's coming reign:

But it will be the same world, the same life. "Behold, I make all things new." These were God's last words to us, and they only say at the end, and eternally, what was in His mind at the very beginning, when He looked on the sacramental world of creation and saw that it was good (p. 227).

Works Cited

  • Berger. P. & Neuhaus, R. J. (Eds.) (1976). Against the world for the world: The Hartford appeal and the future of American religion. New York: Seabury Press.
  • Dupuy, B. (1985). Un témoin de l'Orthodoxie contemporaine: le Père Alexandre Schmemann (1921-1983), Istina 30, 117-130.
  • Fisch, T. (Ed.) (1990). Liturgy and tradition: Theological reflections of Alexander Schmemann. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • Haitch, R. (2007). From exorcism to ecstasy: Eight views of baptism. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.
  • Hopko, T. (1984). Two 'nos' and one 'yes'. St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly.
  • Kadavil, M. (2005). The world as sacrament: Sacramentality of creation from the perspectives of Leonardo Boff, Alexander Schmemann, and Saint Ephrem. Dudley, MA: Peeters.
  • Kadavil, M. (1999). A journey from East to West: Alexander Schmemann's contribution to Orthodoxy in the West, Exchange 28.
  • Meyendorff, J. (1984). A life worth living. St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 28/1.
  • Plekon, M. (2002). Living icons: Persons of faith in the Eastern Church. South Bend, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
  • Plekon, M. (1996). The Church, the Eucharist and the Kingdom: Towards an assessment of Alexander Schmemann's theological legacy. St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 40/3.
  • Schmemann, A. (1991). Celebration of faith, sermons, volume 1. Trans., J. Jillians. Crestwood: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • Schmemann, A. (Ed.) (1997). Church, world, mission: Reflections on Orthodoxy and the West. Crestwood: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • Schmemann, A. (1987). The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom. Crestwood: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • Schmemann, A. (2002). For the life of the world: Sacraments and Orthodoxy. Crestwood: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • Schmemann, A. (2000). The journals of Father Alexander Schmemann, 1973-1983. Trans., Juliana Schmemann. Crestwood, NY.: St. Vladimir Seminary Press.
  • Schmemann, A. (1974). Of water and the Spirit: A liturgical study of baptism. Crestwood: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • Schmemann, A. (1972). Russian Theology: 1920-1972: An Introductory Survey. St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 16.
  • Schmemann, A. (1965). Problems of Orthodoxy in America: The spiritual problem. St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 9/4.
  • Schmemann, J. (1986). Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann: Marriage to a priest. Trans., Elisabeth Obolensky. Le Messager Orthodoxe, 133, 121-123. Retrieved May 14, 2007, from http://www.schmemann.org/memoriam/julianaschmemann.html.
  • Scorer, P. (1984). Alexander Schmemann (1921-83). Sobernost 6/2, 64-68.
  • Slesinki, Robert (1985). The theological legacy of Alexander Schmemann. Diakonia 29.

Bibliography

Books

  • [A similar bibliography can be found on the website for St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, at this web address: http://old.svots.edu/Faculty/Alexander-Schmemann.]
  • (2003). Liturgy and tradition: Theological reflections of Alexander Schmemann. (Ed.) Thomas Fisch. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • (2000). Propovedi i Besedy. Moscow: Palomnik 2000, 2000.
  • (2000). The journals of Father Alexander Schmemann. (Ed., Trans.) Juliana Schmemann. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • (1995). Celebration of faith, vol. 3: The Virgin Mary. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • (1994). Celebration of faith, vol. 2: The Church Year. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • (1991). Celebration of faith, vol. 1: I Believe. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • (1987). The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • (1983). Za zhizn' mira, L. Volokhonskii [Russian trans. of For the life of the world]. New York, NY: Religious Books for Russia.
  • (1981). Megale sarakoste: Poreia pros to Pascha (Orthodoxe martyria, 6) [Greek trans. of Great Lent: Journey to Pascha]. Athens: Akritas.
  • (1981). Velikkii Post [Russian trans. of Great Lent: Journey to Pascha]. Paris: YMCA-Press.
  • (1979). Church, world, mission: Reflections on Orthodoxy in the West (Crestwood, NY: SVS Press.
  • (1979). Za zivot sveta: Svetotajinska filosofija zivota [Serbian trans. of For the life of the world]. Belgrade: Pravoslavlje.
  • (1977). Great Lent, a school of repentance: Its meaning for Orthodox Christians. New York: DRE/OCA.
  • (1977). The historical road of Eastern Orthodoxy [reprint], Lydia Kesich, trans. Crestwood, NY: SVS Press.
  • (1977). Ultimate questions: An anthology of modem Russian religious thought [reprint] Crestwood, NY: SVS Press.
  • (1976). For Varldens liv [Swedish trans. of For the life of the world]. Uppsala: Bokforlaget Pro Veritate.
  • (1976). Of water and the Spirit. London: SPCK.
  • (1974). Aus der freude leben: ein glaubensbuch der Orthodoxen Christen. Trans., Margarete Zimmer. Olten, Freiburg im Breisgau: Walter-Verlag.
  • (1974). Great Lent: Journey to Pascha [Rev. ed.]. Crestwood, NY: SVS Press.
  • (1974). Liturgy and life: Lectures and essays in Christian development through liturgical experience. New York: Department of Religion Education, Orthodox Church in America.
  • (1974). Maailman elaman edesta: Sakramentit ja Ortodoksisuus. Finnish trans. of For the life of the world. Kuopio: Ortodoksinen Veljesto.
  • (1974). Of water and the Spirit: A liturgical study of baptism. Crestwood, NY: SVS Press.
  • (1973). For the life of the world: Sacraments and Orthodoxy. Crestwood, NY: SVS Press.
  • (1973). Sullri Paasto. Trans., Maria Iltola, Matti Sidoroff. Kuopio: Ortodoksinen Veljesto.
  • (1969). Great Lent. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • (1969). Il mondo come sacramento. Italian trans. of The world as sacrament. Brescia: Queriniana.
  • (1969). Russian theology, 1920-1965: a Bibliographical survey. Union Theological Seminary in Virginia Annual Bibliographical Lectures, 1969. Richmond, VA: Union Theological Seminary in Virginia.
  • (1966). Introduction to liturgical theology. Trans., Asheleigh E. Moorhouse. London: Faith Press; Portland, ME: American Orthodox Press.
  • (1966). The world as sacrament. London: Darton, Longman & Todd.
  • (1965). Sacraments and Orthodoxy. New York: Herder & Herder.
  • (1965). Tainstva i Pravoslavie. New York: Chekhov.
  • (1965). Ultimate questions: An anthology of modern Russian religious thought. New York: Holt, Reinhart and Winston.
  • (1963). For the life of the world. New York: National Student Christian Federation.
  • (1963). The historical road of Eastern Orthodoxy. Trans., Lydia Kesich. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  • (1961). Holy Week: A liturgical explanation for the days of Holy Week. Orthodox Worship, no. 3. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
  • (1961). Vvedenie v liturgicheskoe bogoslovie. Paris: YMCA-Press.
  • (1954). Istoricheskii put pravoslaviia. New York: Izdatelstvo im. Chekhova.
  • (1951). Tainstvo kreshcheniia. Paris: Izdatelstvo TSerkovnago viestnika.
  • (1949). TSerkov' i tserkovnoe ustroistvo: po povodu knigi prof. pol'skago kanonicheskoe polozhenie vysshei tserkovnoi vlasti v SSSR i zagranitsei. Paris: izd. TSerkovnago viestnika.

Articles

  • (1983, October). Fr. Schmemann's Acceptance [of the Antonian Medal of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North and South America]. The Word 27:8, 18-20.
  • (1982, March). Lent: The journey to Pascha. Russian Orthodox Journal 54:10, 10-11, 23.
  • (1982). He semasia tes paradoseos gia ten ananeose tes Christianikes zoes kai pisteos Amerikes. Synaxe 1 24-28.
  • (1982). Theologie liturgique: remarques methodologiques, in La Liturgie, son sens, esprit, sa methode: liturgie et theologie. Conferences Saint-Serge, Semaine d'etudes liturgiques, 23. Roma, Edizioni Liturgiche, 297-303.
  • (1982). Twenty Years in Crestwood, NY, in 13th Annual Orthodox Education Day. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Theological Foundation.
  • (1981). Monastic Liturgy, the Church, and the Kingdom, Gleanings 12, 9-14.
  • (1981). Pered Novym Godom, Novoye Russkoe Slovo.
  • (1981). Pered Rozhdestvom, Russkaia Mysl' 3341, 10.
  • (1981). Sermon For Pentecost. Sourozh No. 4, pp. 1-6.
  • (1981). The Services of Christmas. [Introduction to] The Services of Christmas. Syosset, NY: Department of Religious Education, Orthodox Church of America, v-ix.
  • (1980). The Liturgical Structure of Lent. Russian Orthodox Journal 52:3 4-6 [Reprint of March 1978 article].
  • (1980). Orthodox Marriage and Family: the Mystery of Love, in 11th Annual Orthodox Education Day. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Theological Foundation.
  • (1980). Papisto ja maallikot. Ortodoskia 29 96-104.
  • (1980). Tainstvo vospominaniia. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 132, 24-41.
  • (1979). Orthodox Christianity. Sign 59, 28-31.
  • (1979). On Solzhenitsyn, in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Critical essays and documentary materials. (Eds.) John B. Dunlop, Richard Haugh, Alexis Klimoff. New York: Collier Books, 28-40. Also: A lucid love, 382-392; and Reflections on the Gulag Archipelago, 515-526.
  • (1979). Na pereput'i. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 129, 5-13.
  • (1979). Na Zlobu Dnia. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 130, 237-246.
  • (1979). Ot Redaktsii: k preodoleniiu krizia (pis'mo chlenam Dvizheniia). Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 128, 3-4.
  • (1979). Pamiati V.V. Veidle. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 129, 175-179.
  • (1979). Radost': Priniatie v Pravoslavie obiteli novii skit, in Ezhegodnik Pravoslavnoi Tserkvii v Amerike, 6-8; same in Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 128, 97-99.
  • (1979). Reception dans l'orthodoxie de la communauté du Nouveau Skite. Le Messager Orthodoxe 82, 24-26.
  • (1979). Tainstvo blagodareniia. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 130, 8-25.
  • (1978). (With Andrew Sopko) A debate on the Western rite. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 24, 253-269.
  • (1978). Dnes' blagodat' Sv. Dukha nas sobra. Ezhegodnik Pravoslavnoi TSerkvi v Amerike, 3-10.
  • (1978). Father Schmemann visits Cairo, Egypt. The Orthodox Church 14:4, 3.
  • (1978). Iznad levicarstva' u religiji. Teoloskipogledi 11:3, 141-148.
  • (1978). The liturgical Structure of Lent. Russian Orthodox Journal 51:10, 4-6.
  • (1978. Mitropolit Feodosii na intronizatsii novogo Papy. NRS, 1.
  • (1978). Ozhidanie: Pamiati Vladimira Sergeevicha Varshavskogo. Kontinent.
  • (1978). The problem of the Church's presence in the world in Orthodox consciousness, in Procés verbaux du deuxieme congres de théologie orthodoxe d'Athene, 19-29 Août 1976, Athénes, 236-248.
  • (1978). Sacrifice and worship. Parabola 3:2, 60-65.
  • (1978). Tainstvovoznosheniia. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 124, 11-20.
  • (1977). Fr Schmemann in Mexico City. The Orthodox Church 13:1, 4.
  • (1977). Interview du Pére Alexandre Schmemann. Le Messager Orthodoxe 77, 39-45.
  • (1977). V Sobor Amerikanskoi Tserkvi. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 123, 32-34.
  • (1977). Prazdnik na Aliaske. Ezhegodnik Pravoslavnoi Tserkvii v Amerike, 20-26.
  • (1977). The problem of the Church's presence in the world in Orthodox consciousness. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 21, 3-17.
  • (1977). Tainstvo Edinstva. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 122, 29-44.
  • (1977). Unless the Lord builds the house …, in Orthodox Education Day '77. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Theological Foundation.
  • (1976). The East and the West may yet meet, in Against the world for the world: The Hartford Appeal and the future of American religion. (Eds.) Peter L. Berger and Richard John Neuhaus. New York: Seabury Press, 126-137.
  • (1976). Great and Holy Saturday [Introduction], in Great and Holy Saturday. Syosset, NY: DRE/OCA, 3-7. [Reprinted, 1981]
  • (1976). Otvet Solzhenitsynu. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 117, 121-135.
  • (1976). Pravoslavie i amerikanskii iubilei. Ezhegodnik Pravoslavnoi TSerkvi v Amerike, 3-7.
  • (1976). Tainstvo Edinstva. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 119, 59-70.
  • (1975). Christ is risen! in Preaching about death: Eighteen sermons dealing with the experience of death from the Christian perspective. (Ed.) Alton M. Motter. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 69-71.
  • (1975). Dedication: Patriarch Tikhon, 1925-1975, in Orthodox America 1794-1976: Development of the Orthodox Church in America. (Eds.) Constance J. Tarasar and John H. Erickson. Syosset, NY: Orthodox Church in America/Dept. of History and Archives, 9-10; Also: To love is to remember, 11-13; Signs of new growth, 1950-1965, 229-231; Autocephaly, 261-264.
  • (1975). Mary, the archetype of mankind, in The University of Dayton Review 11, 79-84.
  • (1975). Patriarch Tikhon, 1925-1975. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 19, 3-6.
  • (1975). La semaine sainte, in Le Mystère pascal: commentaires liturgiques, Spiritualité orientate, 16. Begrolles-en-Manges: Abbaye de Bellefontaine.
  • (1975). Tainstvo prinosheniia. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 116, 8-35.
  • (1974). Aspects historiques du cutle [sic] orthodoxe: difference entre les typika monastiques et paroissiaux. Epistemonike epeteris Theologikes Scholes. Thessaloniki, 357-365.
  • (1974). The liturgical structure of Lent. Russian Orthodox Journal 47:9, 4-6.
  • (1974). On the Gulag Archipelago, in Symposium on Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago. New York: Association of Russian-American Scholars in USA, 15-19.
  • (1974). Pentecost: the feast of the Church. [Introduction to] The Vespers of Pentecost. Syosset, NY: DRE/OCA.
  • (1974). Po povodu dvukh statei. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 112/113, 91-98.
  • (1974). Le sacrement de la parole. Le Messager Orthodoxe, 68/69, 3-19.
  • (1974). Tainstvo vernykh. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 114, 13-28.
  • (1974). Tainstvo slova. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 112/113, 40-43.
  • (1974). Tainstvo vkhoda. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 111, 33-44.
  • (1973). Aspects historiques du culte orthodoxe: difference entre les typika monastiques et paroissiaux. Irenikon 46, 5-15.
  • (1973). Concerning women's ordination-a letter to an Episcopalian friend. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 17, 239-243.
  • (1973). La culte divin a l'age de la secularisation. Istina 18, 403- 417.
  • (1973). Ivan M. Czap. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 17, 290.
  • (1973). Kakova 'mera nepravdy'? Pravoslavnaia Rus' 44:20/1021, 15/28, 12.
  • (1973). Mera nepravdy. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 108/109/110, 142-143.
  • (1973). On the question of liturgical practices-a letter to my bishop. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 17, 227-238.
  • (1973). Le sacrement du royaume. Le Messager orthodoxe 108/109/110, 24- 35.
  • (1973). Skazochnaia kniga. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 108/109/110, 169-173.
  • (1973). Some post-council thoughts. The Orthodox Church 9:10, 8.
  • (1973). Tainstvo Tsarstva. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 108/109/110, 24-35.
  • (1971). Alexandre Solzhenitsyne. Le Messager orthodoxe 53, 21-39.
  • (1971). Days of light and joy. Kanadskii pravoslavnyi kalendar', 77-81.
  • (1971). A meaningful storm: Some reflections on autocephaly, tradition and ecclesiology. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 15, 3-27.
  • (1971). La Semaine sainte. Le Messager orthodoxe 55/56, 3-28.
  • (1971). Siia est' blagoslovennaia subbota (ob utreni velikoi subboty). Russko-Amerikanskii Pravoslavnyi Vestnik 67:3, 36-40.
  • (1971). Tri obraza. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 101/102, 9-24.
  • (1971). Znamenatel'naia buria: neskol'ko myslei ob avtokefalii, tserkovnom predanii i ekkieziologii. Vestnik Russkogo Zapadno-evropeiskogo Patriarshego Ekzarkhata 75/76,196-225.
  • (1971). Zriachaia Uubov'. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 100, 141-152.
  • (1970). Days of light and joy," The Orthodox Church 8:7, 5-6.
  • (1970, September). "Dni radosti i sveta," Russko-Amerikanskii Pravoslavnyi Vestnik 66:9, 134-142.
  • (1971). O Solzhenitsyn. Vestnik Russkogo Zapadno-evropeiskogo Patriarshego Ekzarkhata 98, 72-77.
  • (1971). On Mariology in Orthodoxy. Marian Library Studies, n.s. 2, 25-32.
  • (1971). Proslavienie prep. Germana Aliaskinskogo: dni radosti i sveta. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 97, 152-156.
  • (1970). Sacraments, an Orthodox presentation, in Evangelium und Sakrament. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 94-107.
  • (1969). Debate on the liturgy: Liturgical theology, theology of liturgy and liturgical feform. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 13, 217-224.
  • (1969). Neskol'ko myslei po povodu 'Skorbnogo poslaniia' MitropolitaFilareta. Russko-Amerikanskii Pravoslavnyi Vestnik 65:11, 171-176.
  • (1969). O tseli zhizni. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 91/92, 14-16.
  • (1969). Otvet vitse-predsedatelia R.S.Kh.D. prot. Aleksandra Shmemana na pis'mo, poluchennoe iz rossii. Russko-Amerikanskii Pravoslavnyi Vestnik 65:10, 159-160.
  • (1969). Prayer, liturgy, and renewal. Greek Orthodox Theological Review 14, 7-16.
  • (1969). The 'sorrowful epistle' of Metropolitan Philaret. The Orthodox Church 5:9, 5, 8.
  • (1969). Thoughts for the Jubilee. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 13, 95-102.
  • (1969). Tri Mitropolita, in Zhizn' i trudy Mitropolita Leontiia. New York: Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America, 227-234.
  • (1968). A Brief Response [Notes and Comments], St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 12, 173-174.
  • (1968). Mary in the Eastern liturgy. Marian Studies 19, 76-83.
  • (1968). O puti bogoslovskoi shkoly: k tridtsatiletiiu Sv.-Vladimirskoi Dukhovnoi Akademii. Russko-Amerikanskii Pravoslavnyi Vestnik 64:9, 130-135.
  • (1968). Otvet vitse-predsedateli R.S.Kh.D. prot. Aleksandra Shmemana na pis'mo, poluchennoe iz Rossii. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 89/90, 3-5.
  • (1968). Priere, liturgie et renouveau, in La Théologie du renouveau. Paris: Cerf, v. 2, 105-114.
  • (1967). Autorité et liberté dans l'Eglise," Le Messager orthodoxe 40/41, 40-53.
  • (1967). Avtoritet i svoboda v Tserkvi. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 85, 4-16.
  • (1967). Ecclesiological notes. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 11, 35-39.
  • (1967). Orthodoxy and America. The Orthodox Church 3:9, 7.
  • (1967). The Orthodox Tradition, in The convergence of traditions. New York: Herder and Herder, 11-37.
  • (1967). 50 let tragedii Russkoi pravoslavnoi tserkvi. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 85,1-3.
  • (1967). Private enterprise enters parish life. The Orthodox Church 3:1, 5.
  • (1967). Response to professors Burghardt and Minear: An Orthodox view. Theological Education 3, 317-318.
  • (1967). Three levels of restoration. The Orthodox Church 3:3, 5.
  • (1967). The way to absolution. The Orthodox Church 3:2, 5.
  • (1966). A. Akhmatova. Novyi zhurnal 83, 84-92.
  • (1966). Dimensions of Byzantine spirituality. John XXIII Lectures 1,1-18.
  • (1966). Eastern Orthodoxy. The Word 10:2, 8-10.
  • (1966). Father Nicholas Afanasiev. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 10, 209.
  • (1966). Freedom in the Church, in The Word in history: The St. Xavier symposium. (Ed.) T. Patrick Barte. New York: Sheed & Ward, 120-132.
  • (1966). Great Lent. The Orthodox Church 2:3, 8.
  • (1966). Impossible Orthodoxy. The Orthodox Church 2:5, 5.
  • (1966). Liturgical spirituality of the sacraments. John XXIII Lectures 2, 19-33.
  • (1966). Le Moment de verité pour l'Orthodoxie, in Un Nouvel Age oecuménique: études du centre international d'information et de documentation sur l' église conciliaire. Paris: Editions du Centurion.
  • (1966). The narrow way. The Orthodox Church 2:9, 5.
  • (1966). Orthodoxy and America. The Word 10:6/7, 13.
  • (1966). Un fin et un commencement. Le Messager orthodoxe 33-34,1-11, 11-16.
  • (1966). Pamiati ottsa Nikolaia Afanas'eva. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 82, 65-68.
  • (1966). Po povodu parizhskikh tserkovnykh del (vyderzhki iz pis'ma). Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 82, 65-68.
  • (1966). Roll of honor. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 10, 7-8.
  • (1966). The roots of the crisis. The Orthodox Church 2:6, 5.
  • (1966). The secularist reduction of the parish. The Orthodox Church 29, 5.
  • (1966). The secularist reduction of the person. The Orthodox Church 2:8, 5.
  • (1966). Synchronos kosmos kai ekklesiastike latreia. Synoro 37, 3-11.
  • (1966). The task of Orthodox theology in America today. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 10,180-188.
  • (1966). An enconscious surrender. The Orthodox Church 2:7, 5.
  • (1965). Bishop Cassian Bezobrazov. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 9, 39.
  • (1965). The Great Lent. The Orthodox Church 1:1, 6.
  • (1965). Konets i nachalo, in Na temy russkie i obshchie: sbornik statei i materialov v chest'. (Eds.) N. S. Timasheva, N. P. Poltorstskii. New York: izd. Ob-va Druzei Russkoi Kul'tury, 73-78.
  • (1965). A letter to a future priest. The Word 9:2, 10-11.
  • (1965). Lev Aleksandrovich Zander. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 9, 40.
  • (1965). The Orthodox Tradition, in The Convergence of Traditions, Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant. (Ed.) Elmer O'Brien. New York: Herder & Herder, 11-37.
  • (1965). Problems of Orthodoxy in America: III. The Spiritual Problem," St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 9,171-193.
  • (1965). The sobor: Test of our maturity. The Orthodox Church 1:7, 7.
  • (1965). Something to think about. The Word 9:3, 13.
  • (1965). World as sacrament, in Cosmic Piety: Modern Man and the Meaning of the Universe. (Ed.) Christopher Derrick. New York: P. J. Kennedy & Sons, 119-139.
  • (1964). K 40 letiiu Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia. Vestnik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia 72/73, 71-72.
  • (1964). Le moment de vérité pour l'Orthodoxie. Contacts 16:45, 4-15.
  • (1964). Problems of Orthodoxy in America: I. The canonical problem. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 8, 67-85.
  • (1964). Problems of Orthodoxy in America: II. The liturgical problem. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 8,164-185.
  • (1964). Religious persecutions in Russia. St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 8, 49.
  • (1964). TSerkov' posle apostolov. Kanadskii pravoslavnyi kalendar', 50-54.
  • (1963). Eisagoge eis ten leitourgian, in He Leitourgia mas: treis meletai Athens: Zoe, 57-87.
  • (1963). Moment of rruth for Orthodoxy, in Unity in Mid-Career: an Ecumenical Critique. (Eds.) Keith R. Bridston and Walter D. Wagoner. New York: Macmillan, 47-56.
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Excerpts from Publications

(1974). Liturgy and life: Lectures and essays in Christian development through liturgical experience. New York: Department of Religion Education, Orthodox Church in America.

…[I]t is in the organic connection between the liturgical life of the Church and her educational effort that we find the uniquely Orthodox principle of religious education" (foreword)

What then should Christian education be, if not the introduction into this life of the Church, an unfolding of its meaning, its content, its purpose? And how can it introduce anyone into this life, if not by participation in the liturgical services on the one hand, and their explanation on the other hand? "O taste and see how good is the Lord": first taste, then see-i.e., understand. The method of liturgical catechesis is truly the Orthodox method of religious education because it proceeds from the Church and because the Church is its goal (p. 13).

As general rule, children like to be in church, and this instinctive attraction to and interest in church services is the foundation on which we must build our religious education. When parents worry that children will get tired because services are long, they usually subconsciously express their concern not for their children, but for themselves. Children penetrate more easily than adults into the world of ritual, into liturgical symbolism (p. 15-16).

(1974). Of water and the Spirit: A liturgical study of Baptism. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press.

And if in this "modern" world of ours-in which once again we Orthodox are a tiny minority, rejected and persecuted, divided, fragmented, insecure, yet at the same time incredibly self-righteous and triumphalistic, endlessly glorifying the past which we ourselves have betrayed-an effort toward recovery is urgently needed, this effort must consist first and above all in the recovery by the Orthodox of their own mind, of that experience of the Church which is the only source of a truly Orthodox worldview and of a truly Christian life. And the source, always living and life-giving is precisely Baptism

Baptism not as one isolated "means of grace" among many, about which all we have to do is to memorize the two-line definition given to it in a manual, but Baptism as that essential act by which the Church always reveals and communicates her own faith, her "experience" of man and the world, of creation, fall and redemption, of Christ and the Holy Spirit, of the new life of the new creation, as indeed the source of the whole life of the Church and of the Christian life of each one of us.

But for our experience of the Church and of Christian life to become baptismal, i.e. referred to the baptismal mystery as its source and nourishment, implies and presupposes that we rediscover the true meaning of Baptism-not Baptism itself, which is here with us unchanged, unaltered in its essence, nor its rites which, mutilated as they are, essentially remain the same, but their meaning and thus their power in us. And this can only be done through education, which-in the early Church at least-was always understood as the indivisible unity of teaching, liturgical experience, and spiritual effort. It is this unity that, more than anything else; we need today (pp. 151-152).

For as long as in our teaching-be it in theological seminaries or "Sunday Schools"-Bible, doctrine, liturgy, spirituality remain virtually isolated from one another, constitute autonomous "departments" loosely united within a formal "curriculum," not only does each one of them tend to become an intellectual abstraction, but none is able to reveal the faith in its living, concrete and truly existential fullness…What must be done then-and Baptism here is a self-evident starting point-is to bring together teaching and the experience of the Church, as revealed and communicated in her worship, so as to make teaching the explanation of that experience and liturgy the fulfillment of faith (pp. 152-152).

(2002). For the life of the world: Sacraments and Orthodoxy. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press.

"This is my body, this is my blood. Take, eat, drink…" And generations upon generations of theologians ask the same questions. How is this possible? How does this happen? And what exactly does happen in this transformation? And when exactly? And what is the cause? No answer seems to be satisfactory. Symbol? But what is a symbol? Substance, accidents? Yet one immediately feels that something is lacking in all these theories, in which the Sacrament is reduced to the categories of time, substance, and causality, the very categories of "this world."

Something is lacking because the theologian thinks of the sacrament and forgets the liturgy. As a good scientist he first isolates the object of his study, reduces it to one moment, to one "phenomenon"-and then, proceeding from the general to the particular, from the known to the unknown, he gives a definition, which in fact raises more questions than it answers. But throughout this study the main point has been that the whole liturgy is sacramental, that is, one transforming act and one ascending movement. And the very goal of this movement is to take us out of "this world" and to make us partakers of the world to come. In this world—the one that condemned Christ and by doing so condemned itself-no bread, no wine can become the body and blood of Christ. Nothing which is a part of it can be sacralized. But the liturgy of the Church is always an anaphora, a lifting up, an ascension (p. 42).

(2003). Liturgy and tradition: Theological reflections of Alexander Schmemann. (Ed.) Thomas Fisch. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press.

All theology, indeed, ought to be "liturgical," yet not in the sense of having liturgy as its unique "object" of study, but in that of having its ultimate term of reference in the faith of the Church as manifested and communicated in the liturgy; that catholic vision and experience which it now lacks in its alienation from liturgy (p. 61).


Recommended Readings

(1974). Liturgy and life: Lectures and essays in Christian development through liturgical experience. New York: Department of Religion Education, Orthodox Church in America.
(1974). Of water and the Spirit: A liturgical study of Baptism. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press.
(2002). For the life of the world: Sacraments and Orthodoxy. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press.
(2003). Liturgy and tradition: Theological reflections of Alexander Schmemann. (Ed.) Thomas Fisch. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press.

Author Information

Russell Haitch

Russell Haitch, (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Bethany Theological Seminary, in Richmond, Indiana. He has written a book on baptism that describes Alexander Schmemann's views (From exorcism to ecstasy: Eight views of baptism, Westminster John Knox Press, 2007.)

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