The Little Way of the Hobbit—Celebrating Tolkien and the Holy Name of Jesus

tolkien birthday gif.gif

 

 

 

 

January 3rd celebrates two important events: the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus and the anniversary of the birth of J.R.R. Tolkien. As a Catholic obvious the former has to take precedence, I mean Jesus is the center of the Catholic faith. However, I think it is ironic, maybe even providential, of the placement of the great English literary figure’s birthday within the season of Christmastide.

Creation Leads to the Creator

The famed creator of Middle Earth himself was a devout Catholic and belief in Jesus Christ permeated his entire life. I admire Tolkien because of his creativity, devotion, and ability to invoke joy into my life simply by reading his works or striking up a conversation with a random stranger about his life!

Last year, I wrote an article for EpicPew.com An Unexpected Journey? The Case for the Canonization of J.R.R. Tolkien discussing the reasons for canonizing Tolkien as a saint of the Church.

According to the Baltimore Catechism paragraph 215, Catholics honor saints because

“We honor the saints in heaven because they practiced great virtue when they were on earth, and because in honoring those who are the chosen friends of God we honor God Himself.”

The excitement, peace, and joy I receive when reading, researching, or talking about Middle Earth ultimately is aimed at a higher reality. A deeper reality of full communion with God in Heaven! Tolkien once wrote, “After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of ‘truth’.”

All of creation act as signposts pointing to God’s existence.

The same is true for the hidden or not so hidden Easter-eggs contained in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The date of the formation of the Fellowship—that is, the group of representatives of Middle Earth races—actually is December 25th!

easter christmas.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Little Way of the Hobbit

Much of Tolkien’s theology, whether he would have wanted to admit it or not,  reminds me of the spirituality of The Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux. Her path towards holiness consisted of relying on God’s mercy and forgiveness while seeking ordinary daily actions to show love of God and neighbor.

The French saint wrote, “Miss no single opportunity of making small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.” Whenever I read and reflect upon that quote I am also reminded of the following words of Tolkien, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

jesus hobbit meme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasy and Tolkien geeks now well that the bearer of the One Ring [the embodiment of temptation]  was a hobbit. If only one word would suffice to describe a hobbit to individuals not too aware of this fictional Middle Earth race it would be diminutive.  Littleness, at least in appearance, is the chief trait of the heroes of The Lord of the Rings.

Even the smallest person can impact the future

Like St. Therese of Lisieux, Tolkien recognizes that the smallest person can have a great impact on human history. The greatest event in human history is the Incarnation—God being man in the person of Jesus Christ in the form of a little baby.

I honor J.R.R. Tolkien today because his “complex”, extensive, and intricate sub-creation of Middle Earth provokes a sense of joy in the little acts done in great love and sacrifice. Ultimately, after reading any of his works, I am reminded to be grateful for creative genius not as a worship of the fantasy author. Instead, I honor him as he points me to the Real and Truth Author of All of Reality!


 “At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” –Philippians 2:10-11

Related Articles

3 Things “The Hobbit of the New Testament” Taught Me

An Unexpected Journey- How September 21st, 2017 Became the New Start to my Spiritual Life

J.R.R. Tolkien: Truth and Myth

Thank you for sharing!

A Birthday Letter to the Infant Son of God

Nativity.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is a letter I dedicate to our Lord Jesus Christ in celebration of his birth, December 25, 2019 Anno Domini. 


Dear Baby Jesus,

In a stable, 2000 years ago, a seemingly ordinary infant was born. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, shepherds and kings from afar learned about His incredible presence. God uses the most common of circumstances to work the greatest of all miracles–the Incarnation. God so loved the world He sent you–His only Son– to bridge the great gulf, the separation caused by sin.

Wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger, you my king took the form of mankind. I have heard the Nativity story dozens of times. This Advent I feared I would took your origin story for granted. Instead, I am grateful for the opportunity to gaze on the Nativity scene through new eyes–not merely of a follower, but also as a father.

My children are a reminder of your goodness, truth, and beauty. Seeing the twinkle in their eyes when they gaze at the Nativity Scene at home or church is priceless. The smiles on my kids faces as they color “presents” pictures for my wife and I remind me the true reason for the season!

People are born everyday on this earth, but only once a year do we remember the greatest birth of all.

Jesus my servant king, Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, God-hero, I adore you and celebrate with my family and friends the anniversary of your birth. I pray that my heart is enlarged to make room within the inn of my soul for you, my family, friends, and people I meet daily!

Praise we to God in the Highest and Alleluia for our Savior’s arrival.

With great love and gratitude,

Your adopted son,

Matthew


For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.

 

Thank you for sharing!

Who is Jesus?  A Brief Look at the Incarnation

By: William Hemsworth

In sacred scripture, we read that man was created he had a perfect relationship with God.  Man is the pinnacle of creation. God gave man everything.

In return the Lord asked man not to each of one tree in the garden. Man did not listen, rebelled, and had to face the consequences of sin for the first time. 

The sin of our first parents also applies to us.  We all have sinned, and the penalty for that sin is death.  Saint Paul had the same opinion in Romans 6:23 which states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.  However, the second person of the blessed Trinity, Jesus himself became incarnate to atone and redeem us from our sin.

Incarnation—Bridge from us to God

The Incarnation was needed because we could not atone for our sin on our own.  Only someone who was perfect, and without sin could do that.  As I write this it is the final days of Advent.  

The time of preparation for the birth of Christ is soon coming to an end.  Soon we will be celebrating his glorious birth.  The second person of the Trinity loving us so much that He became man.  He lived as we did with hunger, fear, betrayal, and even death.  

Cross as the New Tree of Life

Hebrews 4:15 sums this idea up perfectly when the inspired author writes, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.”  

This far we have seen that Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses, but this doesn’t completely answer who he is.  Who He is the ultimate gift that we experience this time of year.  

Identity of Jesus

So who is Jesus?  This question goes back to some of the greatest controversies in the early church.  

There were some, such as the Arians, who tried to explain Jesus as being the first thing created.  The problem here is that Jesus, as the second person of the Blessed Trinity, has always existed.  There are many verses that show this and John 1:1 is one example.  That passage of scripture states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

He always was, yet he took the form of a man, and was born in the humblest of conditions.  In our society we have been conditioned to view the manger scene in a very sanitized way.  That manger that the divine Son of God was laid in after his birth was a food trough used for livestock!  

The creator of the universe became a man because he wants us to live.  His love for us is that immense.  In the letter to the Philippians St. Paul writes, “Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness and found human in appearance he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).

Fully Man and Fully God

While on Earth he did not appear as a man, nor was He a spirit that possessed man until the point of the crucifixion as the Docetists and Gnostics would say.  From the time of His conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary he was both fully God and fully man.  This was stated by many church fathers, declared at the Council of Nicea, and at the Council of Chalcedon this became known as the Hypostatic Union.  Jesus was not either or, but He has BOTH a human nature AND a divine nature.  

That is why the Incarnation is so amazing, and to be perfectly honest this barely scratches the surface.  As you gather with your families over the next few weeks and exchange gifts and hugs may we remember the ultimate gift.  That ultimate gift is our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  The second person of the Blessed Trinity, who became man, and experienced everything that we did but was without sin.  He died as the perfect offering for our sin because He loves us that much and he thinks that we are worth being with for eternity!


About our guest blogger:

William is a convert to the Catholic faith.  Before entering the church he was ordained as a Baptist and Lutheran and earned a Master of Divinity from Liberty Theological Seminary.  William lives with his wife and four children in Tucson, AZ and teaches religious education for children and adults.  Check out his website/blog at williamhemsworth.com for more great and informative Catholic content!

Thank you for sharing!

Why the Holidays Don’t Have to be Perfect in 2019

💫💫💫Too often society places pressure for the perfect “holiday” season:

🔷all the gifts must be precisely wrapped and laden under the Christmas tree in a tidy order,

🔷the Christmas meal has to be cooked to the exact temperature and paired with the appropriate side dishes depending on the main dish,

🔷 family members need to behave–especially your “estranged/weird” uncle [or aunt or other unique relative you may have].

The Perfection Pitfall

⚜️Honestly, I fall into this fallacy almost every year myself.

⚜️This year was no different. Stomach flu, toddler tantrums, and lack of sleep dominated the weeks leading up to my Advent.

⚜️I struggled at times to see the purpose in the pain. Going to Sunday Mass helped reorient me back to the right path.

Reason for the Season

⚜️The season of Advent is not about preparing for the “perfect” Christmas where Mary and Joseph get a room at the inn.

⚜️Rather, Advent is about preparing for the birth of Jesus Christ. His birth took place in the messiness of the stable, his Passion and Death took place on the messiness of the Cross.

⚜️Not everything in my life will be neatly fit in my control. The same was true for the Holy Family.

Advent

Reflection Questions

❓Is you reaction to unplanned events similar to the humble reaction of Jesus, Mary, & Joseph?

❓How have you prepared your soul for Joy?

Thank you for sharing!

Holiday (and Husband) Hack #1

Listen to your wife

💡Husband Hack #1💡

💙Don’t argue with your wife (especially when she has a logical case in her favor).

See below example ⤵️


Wife: “Matt, you need new socks!”

Me: “No, I don’t. I have plenty of pairs.”

Wife: “They have holes on the heels, the threads are wearing out, and on several pairs I can see your big toe poking through. Last winter had record lows temperatures. Remember February 12th when Sioux Falls (and other parts of the Midwest) had colder temperatures than even Antarctica?!”

Me: “Yeah, but Antarctica is in the Southern Hemisphere. Of course our winter time is going be colder sometimes because it is experiencing its warmest temps.”

Wife: “Regardless, you need socks. Hey what is that Catholic website that sells neat saint socks?”

Me: “Socks Religious.”

Wife: Okay, that is what I am getting you for Christmas. You love Catholic saints and I love your feet being warm so you don’t catch a cold. Deal?!”

Me: “Okay, but can you get me a JPII or Fulton Sheen pair?”


🔷Catholic husbands don’t be like me. Listen to your wife when she tells you that you need new socks!

🔷For quality socks with creative Catholic designs check out Socks Religious. They include socks for kids as well (because we all know that socks mysterious lose their partner in the dryer so better to have more in the dresser on hand).

🔷Select from a variety of saints from Mother Teresa and Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. John Paul II and (soon-to-be blessed) Fulton Sheen!

https://sockreligious.com/?rfsn=2556218.17e774

#husbandhacks #socksreligious #holy #socks #christmasgifts #giftideas

Thank you for sharing!

Don’t Get Cold Feet about Christmas Shopping in 2019!

🎉 🎊 Only 99 days until Christmas! 🎄⭐️ If you are like me, you might be thinking, “So what? We have plenty of time let’s celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. Let’s celebrate those first!”

Christmas in September

❗️A part of me wished the entire world 🌎 thought like me. But that is selfish. An unholy mindset. 🧦 Much like my frame of mind, my socks are getting holey. Especially, at the heels! 🧦My wife constantly urges me to get new socks. “Aren’t those uncomfortable?” she asks almost weekly. She is right. Worn down and drab socks are uncomfortable.

❗️Want a solution to this dilemma?

🧦Check out Socks Religious—a wonderful small business that specializes in high quality socks with a Holy flair! Decorated with the Holy figures like John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and Joseph, you will be sure to experience the holelessness and holiness wearing these socks!

🧦Share this post with your family and friends especially if:

📍They are Catholic

📍Enjoy planning Christmas shopping early

📍 Suffer from holey sock syndrome 📍 Enjoy having comfortable feet

📍Need a conversation starter at a year end party—because I know we can all get awkward at times in social events! 😊

https://www.sockreligious.com/?rfsn=2556218.17e774

Thank you for sharing!

Season of Expectancy

Christmastime always holds a special place in my life. As a life-long Catholic, I grew up with the understanding that the celebration of Christ’s birth does not end on December 25th, instead it is actually the beginning of a twelve daylong celebration that goes until the Feast of the Epiphany, the arrival of the Wise men. Over the course of the past week, I noticed a ton of memes, gifs, and posts from my fellow Catholic friends about keeping up Christmas decorations and not tearing them down immediately the day after. I am guilty of that liturgical bravado as well!

This year the season of celebrating Christ’s birth contains extra expectation as my wife and I are waiting for the arrival of the birth of our fourth child! 

Being both uber-planners and type-A personalities we have actually been prepped for our daughter’s big arrival for months. To be honest, I really have been ready for another baby to hold, cuddle, and love since our miscarriage last December 2017.

The beginning of this pregnancy started off rocky and scary. Frequent OBYGN appointments, progesterone shots, and nightly petitioning to our Lord through the Blessed Virgin Mary and saints Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, and Gerard became daily routines over the course of the past 9 months. I came across this quote from Indian filmmaker and director Anurag Prakash Ray that applies directly to my attitude about waiting hold my daughter. He wrote, True love is worth waiting for even if it takes a lifetime. Then in return, a lifetime of love will be waiting for you.” Waiting for our rainbow baby truly does feel like it has been a lifetime—I am certain in the case of my wife she may feel like it has been several lifetimes! 

If a person has a negative mindset, waiting, and especially waiting for something with much anticipation, is quite painful and burdensome. However, shifting the focus away from negativity and instead towards hope, that burden of being agog will be bearable. Saint John Paul the Great lived a long life filled with suffering and waiting. Whenever I get anxious I look to him for advice. The great Polish pope declared, “From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s Will in all things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ her Son and the Son of God!

Throughout this season of expectation(s) be sure to always petition the Lord for help. This may be directly or through the effective intercessory power of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints in Heaven. I welcome any and all prayers for the safe delivery of my daughter whenever she decides to arrive! 


Thank you for sharing!