22 June 2014

Tolkien on "the one great thing to love on earth"

As we celebrate today the great mystery of the Lord Jesus gift to us of his very own Body and Blood for our nourishment, I cannot help but recall the beautiful words with which J.R.R. Tolkien wrote of the Blessed Sacrament to his son, Michael:
Out of the 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 on earth, and more than that: Death. By the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste -or foretaste- of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man's heart desires.
The only cure for sagging or fainting faith is Communion. Though always Itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once for all in any of us. Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise. Frequency is of the highest effect. Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals.

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.
Parents, how do you speak with your children about the Eucharist? Do you, as Tolkien, share with them your love of the Eucharistic Lord? Do you speak to them at all of your relationship with the Blessed Sacrament?


  1. I think
    You've posted that last portion before, no?
    At any rate I've loved his words on the Eucharist since I first read them. I especially love the "women in trousers" part.

    1. Yes, I have, several times; it's one of my favorite passages from his writings.