On the Necessity of the Unnecessary

The “beauty” of the liturgy… [is] unnecessary… indeed, for we are beyond the categories of the “necessary.” Beauty is never “necessary,” “functional” or “useful.” And when, expecting someone whom we love, we put a beautiful tablecloth on the table and decorate it with candles and flowers, we do all this not out of necessity, but out of love. And the Church is love, expectation and joy. It is heaven on earth… it is the joy of recovered childhoood, that free, unconditioned and disinterested joy which alone is capable of transforming the world. In our adult, serious piety, we ask for definitions and justifications, and they are rooted in fear–fear of corruption, deviation, “pagan influences,” whatnot. But “he that feareth is not made perfect in love (I John 4;18). As long as Christians will love the kingdom of God, and not only discuss it, they will “represent” it and signify it, in art and beauty.

Alexander Schmemann

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