Myth does not share the status of history. It is not a factual chronicle of primordial events but a poetic insight more profound than an account of incidences ab origine , lost to us in time. Its dignity lies in what Jacques Maritain called creative intuition: “that intercommunication between the inner being of things and the inner being of the human Self which is a kind of divination.” Poems originate in the individual self; myth commences in communal instinct, the collective Self.
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At the core of myth is man’s quest to apprehend the hidden truths of existence. The myth of Original Sin is one such truth.
That brings me to a broadcast letter from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Yonkers. It came during Lent as part of the seminary’s annual Paschal Appeal. I have kept the letter for its quotation from Alexander Schmemann, theologian, liturgist, and establisher of an autonomous Orthodox Church in America. Father Schmemann finished writing a text on the eucharist shortly before he died in 1983. These words radiate the character of his theological reflection—on the eucharist and the myth of the Fall:
In our perspective, the original sin of man is not primarily that he disobeyed God; the sin is that he ceased to be hungry for Him and for Him alone, ceased to see his whole life depending on the whole world as a sacrament of communion with God. The only real fall of man is his non-eucharistic life in a non-eucharistic world.
We rise from the pew to take the Eucharist easily. But what it means to live a eucharistic life has no ease about it. If we fully grasped what it signifies—if we are even capable of it—we would crawl to communion on our knees.
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