“ Out of darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament.... There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the complete surrender of all, and yet by the taste [or foretaste] of which alone can what you what you seek in your earthly relationships [love, faithfulness, joy] be maintained, or take on the complexity of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man's heart desires. "
-J.R.R. Tolkien (1)
He was an Oxford don, a philologist, internationally renowned author who's Lord of the Rings was declared "book of the century," but above all, a Catholic.
Few people realize the debt society and culture owe to this quiet man. Not many realize that all modern fantasy owes its development to him. His work has contributed to an increased interest in the Middle Ages as well. But even though he was above all a Catholic, that is above all what most people tend to neglect to remember.
Our brother, Pius I, noted in his last post that Tolkien's writings may be prized for their counter-cultural support of chastity and well grounded understanding of human sexuality and dignity.
That is indeed a valuable lesson; and more await the diligent reader. Though Tolkien did not favor allegory, and had no intention of writing the Lord of the Rings to be one, his Catholic faith undeniably permeates the entire story - and, in fact, all of his writing. Though his Middle Earth is set in a pre-Incarnational time, he explores the struggle of good and evil, the role of grace, the importance of faith, hope and charity. Many Catholic elements appear in subtle ways. The elven bread, Lembas, is considered "food for the journey." It is light, wafer-like, and one bite will give a grown man the strength to continue on his way. We hope our readers need not explain further that the similarities to the Blessed Sacrament, the Viaticum, are not dismissible.
We could continue on without end, but as our time is short, we would like to refer to a number of online sources we hope you will explore in order to discover the strong faith of this -if I may say so - holy man, who takes credit for converting his close friend C.S. Lewis from agnosticism to Christianity.
- A Biographical Sketch (http://www.tolkiensociety.org/tolkien/biography.html)
- Tolkien's Catholic Imagination (http://www.crisismagazine.com/november2001/feature7.htm)
- (http://www.mythictruth.com/index_nn_a.htm) - an interesting site we recently discovered but have not read through entirely
- The Encyclopedia of Arda (http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/)