Tolkein Eucharist

I shared this J. R. R. Tolkien quote, taken from correspondence with his son, a while ago, but I came across it again in a book and thought: “I love that quote!”

It’s advice he gives to help his son appreciate that the efficacy of the Eucharist does not depend, in the last analysis, on human worthiness. In fact, he contends that the contexts of human untidiness and grunge are the very places toward which Jesus the seeker-of-the-sick naturally seems to gravitate.

Though it’s clearly not intended as a licence for intentional liturgical disrespect or sloppiness, it is a healthy dose of realism and a reflection of what life looks like when it’s seen from God’s vantage, hanging on the Cross. And since all of us face, or perpetrate, this experience of liturgical irritants, Tolkien’s advice is applicable to all who wish to fruitfully encounter the saving grace of Christ in all places and circumstances.

Tolkien to his son:

Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children – from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn – open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand – after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.

10 comments on “Tolkein Eucharist

  1. WoopieCushion says:

    My dream parish (priest).

  2. Jamie H. says:

    Thanks Tom, this reminds me about how St. Therese used to patiently endure and even seek out a nun who drove her up the wall with jangling Rosary beads and the like! My boys have been getting interested in “The Hobbit” lately so this was a good reminder to read Tolkien with them.

  3. bro en spiritu says:

    ahhhhhhhh!!!! how prophetic of him!!! how can we broadcast this quote to the whole Catholic world?!?! but alas it must first be broadcast to the dark crevices of my heart!!

  4. oneview says:

    Perfect quote to consider as our Catholic study group is reading and discussing “Sacrosanctum Concilium!”

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