Secularism: The Negation of Homo Adorans

The tragedy of secularism, which Father Schmemann insists is a Christian heresy, lies in the fact that it distorts, exaggerates and therefore mutilates something true. “Secularism,” he writes, “is above all a negation of worship. Not of God’s existence, not of some kind of transcendence and therefore of some kind of religion. If secularism in theological terms is a heresy, it is primarily a heresy about man. It is the negation of man as a worshipping being, as homo adorans: the one for whom worship is the essential act, which ‘posits’ his humanity and fulfills it.” Herein lies the great fallacy. No one is capable of eradicating the yearning for the wholly Other from one’s soul. We have been made to worship, that is, to enter into communion with the living God. Therefore, we either learn to come before the true God in prayer and solemn feast or we delude ourselves with the worship of idols.

Alkiviadis C. Calivas, “Invigorating and Enriching the Liturgical Life of the Parish.” The Orthodox Parish in America, Ed. Anton C. Vrame (Brookline, MA.: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2003), 139 (quoting Alexander Schmemann, “Worship in a Secular Age,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, 16, 1 (1972), p. 4).

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