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The Liturgy of Death

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In these previously unpublished talks, Fr Alexander Schmemann critiques contemporary culture’s distorted understanding of death. He then examines the Church’s rites for burial and her prayers for the dead. Though they are often misunderstood, at the heart of the services Fr Alexander finds the paschal proclamation: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”

“For the Orthodox Church, the time has arrived not to reform the liturgy of death, nor to modernize it (God forbid!), but simply to rediscover it. To rediscover it in its truth and glory means in its connection with the faith of the Church, with the meaning—for the dead, for us, for the whole world and the entire creation—of Christ’s deathless death, and in connection with baptism and Eucharist, with Lent and Pascha, with the whole life of the Church and each one of us, her members. This rediscovery is needed first of all by the Church, but also by our secular culture, for which, whether we know it or not, we are responsible. How are we to rediscover it?”
– Alexander Schmemann,  The Liturgy of Death

  • Contents
  • Introduction by Alexis Vinogradov
  • Chapter 1 The Development of Christian Funeral Rites
  • Chapter 2 The Funeral Rites and Practices
  • Chapter 3 Prayers for the Dead
  • Chapter 4 The Liturgy of Death and Contemporary Culture 
  • Appendix
  • The Order for the Burial of the Dead

Father Alexander Schmemann was a prolific writer, brilliant lecturer and dedicated pastor. Former dean and professor of liturgical theology at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, he passed away in 1983 at the age of sixty-two. Father Alexander Schmemann’s insight into contemporary culture, church life, and liturgical celebration left an indelible mark on the Chrisitian community worldwide.

Book Details

  • Dimensions: 5 x 7 inches
  • Cover: Softcover
  • Pages: 234 pages
  • Language: English
  • St. Vladimir's Seminary Press
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