Celebration of Faith by Fr. Alexander Schmemann - 3 Volume Set - Also available separately -
Set Includes all three volumes:
Celebration of Faith, vol. I: I Believe...
This is a remarkable collection of Fr Alexander Schmemann’s sermons delivered over the course of many years over Radio Liberty to listeners in the Soviet Union where his broadcasts were widely acclaimed. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in a private letter written in 1972, characterized with particular clarity Fr Alexander’s gift of preaching:
…it amazes me how authentic, contemporary and eloquent is the art of his preaching. There is not a note of affectation, not a millimeter of stretching the interpretation…but always, there is powerfully deep thought and deep feeling…
The first of these sermons, under the title “The Celebration of Faith,” uses the themes of faith, revelation, and the Nicene Creed as the symbol of faith. Though generally directed towards those in the church, these talks are unique in that they speak also to the person not in the church, to the person who has had no experience whatsoever of things “religious,” or whose experience of “religion has convinced him of its emptiness.” There are no “prerequisites” for appreciating these talks, no special knowledge required of the vocabulary of the Orthodox Church. Fr Alexander’s only assumption is that he is speaking to “seekers,” to those who have a spiritual thirst, a yearning for something indefinable that calls them out of themselves. And in speaking to the non-religious “seeker,” he reaches also the religious “seeker” as well, the one who is seeking to grow in his faith, life and understanding of God’s revelation in Christ and the Church.
Celebration of Faith, vol. II: The Church Year
There is no human society without celebrations, holidays and feasts, "The feast is part of man's inescapable rhythm of work and rest," observes Fr Schmemann. But beyond the need to rest from work, the development of celebrations in human culture has much deeper root in man's absolutely irrepressible need, not just for rest, but for joy, for meaning that we find the true source of celebration and its tenacity in human society. Feasts, in every culture, have become the repository and expression of a society's goals, ambitions, and worldview. As Fr Schmemann writes, "tell me what you celebrate, and I will tell you who you are."
Christianity is also best understood through its celebrations rather than through abstract dogmatic and theological formulas. Orthodox Christianity in particular has from its earliest days expressed its faith, its understanding of the world and its approach to life through a network of feasts that embrace the entire year. "Without exaggeration we can say that the believer lives from feast to feast, and that for him these feasts sanctify all time through the coming and going of each season."
In this volume, Fr Schmemann examines first the phenomenon of celebration and then its expression in the Orthodox Christian church year, focusing especially on the Christmas and Easter cycles. His reflections on feasts devoted to Mary, the Mother of God, will be included in Volume III of Celebration of Faith.I: I Believe...III: The Virgin Mary.
Celebration of Faith, vol. III: The Virgin Mary
This volume, the third in a collection of sermons by Fr Alexander Schmemann, is on a topic that was particularly close to his heart: the Virgin Mary. The "Theotokos," as Mary is usually referred to among the Orthodox, figures prominently in Byzantine liturgical worship. While no single service is without one or more references to her, Eastern Orthodox theological manuals have little to say about Mary beyond repeating the primarily Christological titles affirmed by the Third Ecumenical Council--"Theotokos," "Birthgiver of God."
It is to the Eastern liturgical tradition, then, that one must turn for a more developed Mariology. Eastern hymnographers, drawing on Scripture, the early Christian Apocrypha and on a rich theological tradition, went far beyond the laconic definition of the Third Ecumenical Council. Fr Schmemann draws on all these to explain Mariology to a modern audience.
The first part of this volume consists of a series of sermons originally delivered in Russian over Radio Liberty. The message is direct and simple, addressed to a largely unchurched audience.
In the second part, comprised of chapters two through five, Fr Schmemann addresses an academic audience in a series of lectures entitled: "Mary: the Archetype of Mankind," "On Mariology in Orthodoxy," "Mary in Eastern Liturgy," and an especially insightful chapter entitled "Mary and the Holy Spirit."
About the Author: Fr Alexander Schmemann 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.