On Friday, December 13, 2013 the clergy and parishioners of St.Catherine the Great Martyr Church gathered at the funeral prayer for the ever-memorable protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann
Service was led by the representative of the Orthodox Church in America to the Moscow Patriarchate Archimandrite Alexander . Where prayed with him , the rector of St Tikhon Orthodox Humanitarian University Archpriest Vladimir Vorobiev , head of the Secretariat for Inter- Relations of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Archpriest Igor Yakymchuk , associate professor of systematic theology and patristics PSTGU Archpriest Valentin Vasechko .
Among the guests were praying, who was very expensive and very memorable after inspiration shepherd in his earthly life , executive editor of the “Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate ” “, a member of the Inter-Council Presence Russian Orthodox Church Sergei Chapnin , translator and editor Helen Dorman.
December 13 is the 30th anniversary of the death of Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann.. On this day a panihida is celebrated at the Church of St. Catherine the Great Martyr In-the-Fields in Moscow – the Representation of the Orthodox Church in America. On December 15 Father Alexander’s reflections on “The Liturgy of Death in Contemporary Culture” is to be presented to the public here in Moscow. This book is a translation into Russian of lectures in the English language.
Our prayers for the ever-memorable Fr. Alexander and the publication of yet another part of his theological work are evidence that the memory of Fr. Alexander is a living memory.
Fr. Alexander was a man of many dimensions – priest and pastor, theologian and teacher of liturgical theology; lover of Russian, French, and English literature; servant of the Church and her mission in the world, and specifically servant of the Orthodox Church in America and her mission in America. It was characteristic of him that his theological and academic excellence was put at the service of the Church in a dynamic and constructive way. He was a sharp critic of the dead ends of some Orthodox habits of thought, yet never tired of witnessing to the Orthodox faith as an experience of joy and an experience of the truth which makes us free.
Fr. Alexander delighted in emphasizing that the Gospel begins with joy and ends with joy. The shepherds in the field near Bethlehem hear the words of an angel of the Lord: “Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2: 10-11). The disciples follow the Lord as far as Bethany. “While he blessed them, he parted from them. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy (Lk. 24: 51-52), there to await the power from on high promised by their Lord.
It was in the liturgical life and tradition of the Church that Fr. Alexander found the source and inspiration of his theological thought and teaching. The Eucharist was at the heart of his experience of the truth and saving power of the Orthodox faith. This insight he shared with his students, inspiring in the Church a “Eucharistic renewal” which lives not only in America but in many parts of the one Orthodox Church.
When Fr. Alexander’s earthly pilgrimage was coming to an end the Sacrament of Holy Unction was celebrated. At the appropriate moment in the rite those who were gathered around him heard Fr. Alexander’s voice clearly and distinctly saying Amen, Amen, Amen.
So it is that on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Fr. Alexander’s repose we join together in saying Amen, Amen, Amen. The living memory of Fr. Alexander is the memory of a man who lived and died in hope of the resurrection.
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
December 12, 2013
Orthodox Church in America Chancery
Syosset, New York