Schmemann Alexander, The Church Praying, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, Akritas, 2003, pp. 275.
In this book Fr. Alexandrer Schmemann explores the orthodox liturgical tradition through its historical development, seeking its importance in the contemporary life of Church and world.
In the introductive chapter the aim and method of Liturgical Theology are analysed through the effort of its definition and the description of the contemporary liturgical crisis.
In the 1st chapter, there is an attempt to define the nature and function of the order of worship by the writer. Moreover, its relation with the liturgical practice is described, as well as with the Eucharist and the function of time and special reference is made to the contemporary liturgical trends.
In the 2nd chapter there is an effort by the writer to respond to the question of beginning of the form of the liturgical order that is connected unbreakably with the function of time. Emphasis is given on the Judaic basis of Christian worship and to the nature and importance of its relation with Christian worship, as well as in the celebration of Sunday and Saturday.
In the 3rd chapter the research is focused in the liturgical development during the 4th and 5th century through the underline of the liturgical and sacramental devoutness, the new way of experiencing worship centered in the temple, and in the unique role that monasticism played in the history of worship.
In the 4th chapter the Byzantine synthesis is developed: a) the pre-Constantine order with the night and day circle, the weekly circle and the ecclesiastic year with the fasting periods, b) the secular or cathedral order with the music, the drama element, the honoring of Saints, g) the monastic order with fasting and the eucharistic practise. The synthesis of the secular and the monastic practice is described next, beginning with the triumph of the monastic piety and continuing with the completion of ritual and the presentation of the Jerusalem and the Studite order, as well as posterior orders.
The book is completed with Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s overall evaluation of the ritual.