A process of reevaluation of tradition from the point of view of its relevance to the “needs of the time” and the “questions of contemporary man” is occurring right now in western Christianity. And the criterion for what is eternal and what is obsolete in Christianity is almost without any argument declared to be “contemporary man” and “contemporary culture.” In order to suit these, some are ready to discard from the Church everything that appears to be “irrelevant.” This is the eternal temptation of modernism, which periodically disturbs the church organism. And therefore, when people talk about this or that obsolete custom or tradition, it is always necessary to show the utmost care and to put the question not in terms of its relevance or irrelevance to what is “contemporary,” but in terms of whether it expresses something eternal and essential in Christianity, even if it outwardly seems “obsolete.”

Alexander Schmemann, The Eucharist. Sacrament of the Kingdom. (Crestwood, N.Y.: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1988) 86.

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