Sunday, November 29, 2015

Christmas and Symbolsim

Yet at this point let us ask a few questions. Are these “symbols” merely “symbolic”? Or is their failure perhaps to be explained precisely by the symbolic value attached to them by Christian s themselves, who ceased to understand their true nature? And did they not cease to understand this nature because at one time (it would take too long to elaborate on this here) Christians came to think that "religion" has nothing to do with time, is in fact salvation from time? Before we gain the right to dispose of the old "symbols" we must understand that the real tragedy of Christianity is not is "compromise" with the world and progressive "materialism" but on the contrary it "spiritualization" and transformation into “religion”. And "religion" as we know already has thus come to mean a world of pure spirituality, a concentration of attention on matters pertaining to the "soul". 

Christians were tempted to reject time altogether and replace it with mysticism and "spiritual" pursuits, to live as Christians out of time an thereby escape its frustration; to insist that time has no real meaning from the point of view of the Kingdom which is “beyond time”. And they finally succeeded. They left time meaningless indeed, although full of Christian "symbols", and today they themselves do not know what to do with these symbols. For it is impossible to “put Christ back in Christmas” if He has not redeemed-that is, made meaningful-time itself.”

Fr. Alexander Schmemman, For the Life of the World pp 48-49

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