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.
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.