Fr. Alkiviadis C. Calivas offers us a thought about the role of both theology and liturgy in our Christian walk. “I just want to be a Christian,” someone might say. Orthodoxy would say that desire can never be separated from either liturgy or theology. Theology informs and shapes our ideas about what it means to be a Christian. Liturgy is where we act on our beliefs and enact our relationship to God, all of humanity and creation itself. Fr. Calivas is making reference below to Liturgical Theologian Alexander Schmemann who often criticized the reduction of liturgy to a legalistic following of ritual which ultimately empties the Liturgy of its transformative power.
“Father Schmemann’s stern critique – whether one accepts it or not as a valid evaluation of contemporary ecclesial realities – is a strong reminder of the serious dangers that face the Church whenever her theology is robbed of vigor and meaning and whenever her liturgy becomes opaque, burdened with ritual formalism, and turned into superstition or into a purely intellectual system divorced from real life. Both theology and liturgy are devitalized when theology is unwittingly allowed to decline into uncritical, repetitive, and sterile pietistic formulations and when the liturgy is unwittingly allowed to deteriorate into empty actions and words that have little meaning and have no appeal to the heart and mind of the contemporary worshipper.” (Essays in Theology and Liturgy: Volume 3, pg. 126)