3 Reasons I Love Catholicism

Title gives fair warning for the non-Catholic, non mystical-inclined readers (are you there-ere-ere-ere? (echo)).

This linkup is hosted by Micaela on California to Korea, who I am most. definitely  not. jealous. of. becauseshelivesinKoreawithfourbeautifulchildrenandobviouslyawesomehusband.

Really Micaela, only three?  Here goes.  c;

-- 1 --

Remember when things had meaning?  When stepping on a crack meant certain doom, if not for your mother's back, then for some unspoken balance precariously and inexplicably resting on your tiny six-year-old shoulders?    When the colored lights on the Christmas tree indicated a fairy city and your words had so much meaning that you would close your eyes and unwish the mean thing you said about your sister, just in case someone somewhere was listening and it became true?

Catholics live in that world.  The world of ritual, even of "superstition."  It is a world where things retain their meaning, where even the smallest gesture has significance.  We cross ourselves to keep devils away, invoke saints' names to find lost objects, know that the sound of bells indicate the presence of kings and kneel accordingly, believe that a bit of bread and swig of wine are the most powerful and significant material things on the face of the planet, and would die protecting Them.

A Catholic is a man, woman, or child who lives a fairy tale.  (See reason #3.)

-- 2 --

Anyone who knows me for two seconds knows this about me.  My patron saint, my spiritual father, my favorite author.


-- 3 --

(See reason #1.)

Not an understatement to say that Middle Earth changed my life as I knew it.  A lonely, bookish adolescent, I had this . . . feeling . . . about the world around me, a feeling I couldn't express, or if I could, was afraid to be found alone in my conviction, rejected, ridiculed, told to "grow up."  Que The Hobbit and, after that, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, and at last I felt the light bulb click, the moment when my faith and my fancy collided and I realized they were one and the same and that our God is Fearful and Beautiful and Alive and to exist is wonderful, wonderful.

I'll let Jessica explain it:

Looking back into my childhood, there are glints - like shining stones on a path - of Faerie. I've washed my face in the dew of the first May morning, discovered a hidden woodland stream, and played with old coins of unknown origin. These precious moments notwithstanding, I had little overt fantasy in my upbringing, and I didn't truly find Faerie until I found The Lord of the Rings.  
To say that a book changed one's life is banal, but there it is: Lord of the Rings changed my life.
Tolkien enchanted me entirely. I could see things now, simple things, and see their magic. Wax candles, the stars, woolen blankets, the campus lawn: all became sacred. They were holy in their ordinariness. I was overcome. 
To my mind, the most important thing that Tolkien's writing imparted to my views is what C.S. Lewis calls the True myth. As one of those Jesus types, I found myself at last face to face with the fact that I am living the true myth, and that all of the sacredness I first saw is mine to delight in, to keep forever, in a way. My favorite passage in the whole series is the exchange between Aragorn and one of Eomer's riders. The rider scoffs at the notion of halflings, and asks, "Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?"  
Aragorn replies: "Not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day."  
These stories have shaped me so much, and have given birth to much that is good in my life. . .

BAM!  Aragorn says it all.  (Emphasis mine.)

And you know what?  The more Catholic-Tolkien fans I connect with, the more convinced I am that this is not an isolated experience.  More proof that the One Who is Truth and Beauty is at the center of Middle Earth, as in all created things that are good and beautiful.


For more reasons it's so cool to be Catholic, check out the link to an old 7 Quick Takes Friday post.



  1. Yay!! I love this! But why was everyone a lonely, bookish adolescent (myself included)..I'm beginning to doubt that adolescence takes another form ;)

    ..and, can you recommend something non-fiction by Chesterton that I might like..I did like Man who was Thursday for the most part, and most of the Fr. Brown stories, I HATED the Flying inn with a passion, and was bored by Orthodoxy..so..thoughts, recommendations?? He does have some fantastic quotes!

  2. @Masha

    There were the lonely, bookish adolescents that hid behind a mask of shallow popularity, perhaps?

    If you told me what you disliked about Orthodoxy, maybe I could start from there in suggesting something. I feel like any non-fiction work of his is going to be a microcosm of his entire body of work!

  3. This. Is. Awesome.

    I am so with you on wonder. It makes a huge difference... I remember thinking, in my first Catholic years, that the Church was the only place in the world where wonder had been allowed to stick around and thrive. Or if not the only place, one of the very few.

    And Orthodoxy is one of my favorite books, and it contributed to my conversion and the whole way I see life. But @Masha, I suppose I'll overlook you being bored by it since, as you'll see below, I'm not perfect either. ;)

    See, I really, really want to love Tolkien like you two do. I try so hard. I read his work and with every sentence feel like I'm saying "This is wonderful and YOU SHOULD LOVE IT MADLY SO WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU??" There are things about his writings that I do love, and he has some of the best quotes--that one above is pretty spectacular--but... sigh. The stories just don't come off emotionally intimate enough to hold my attention. Or something. I'm sure it's a flaw in my own makeup, not his. All I can say, anyway, is that I wish I could give him half the filial love I owe him for what he did for fantasy fiction.... but at least he has my respect. :)

    Oh, and I definitely was a bookish adolescent, but I don't know about lonely. Mostly I wanted my sisters to stop pestering me for secrets and making me feel like more of a jerk than I wanted to believe myself to be. On the other hand, maybe adolescent loneliness is what hit in my twenties. I sort of spread the teenage years out for about two decades. Which is really not recommendable. :P

  4. Bad Jenna, bad! *slaps hand* (Oh, Maia would relish this.)

    You are NOT flawed for not connecting with Tolkien. It's called taste, and everyone's is different.

    Dropping the mock corrective tone now. ;P I can totally see how one would scramble for emotional intimacy from the Middle Earth stories; they're written in an epic/storytelling tradition whose tone is reminiscent of Beowulf or Chaucer . . . "and then so-in-so did this, and so-in-so thought this." I think it has everything to do with narration. Its intended to sound like, "Someone wrote this down to record real events, very important ones, but relevant for posterity." If you're not accustomed to or connect with that kind of tone, there you go. Or it might take some work, some digging, to make that connection.

    It might help to approach Middle Earth like an artifact. It's this beautiful Something whose use is not immediately apparent, and it takes some studying to crack the code. The emotional resonance is there, it's just hidden under the English formality!

    Mutual jerkiness is just a part of sisterhood, I think, and yes, it's blown way out of proportion by most, if not all, parties!

    The only reason my limited imagination can come up with that you would be bored with Orthodoxy is that it was totally Old News . . . and that you had had that worldview for years and years, which is really wonderful.

  5. @Christie, you're absolutely right... I had the same problem with the oft-beloved A Wizard of Earthsea. Objective voice. It's like reading the Old Testament, which I have gone through several times, always with much frustration.

    So yeah, next time I pick up LotR, I'll try and start with that in mind.

    LotR book club, after Harry Potter? ;)

  6. Oh you have a way with words! #1 is wonderful!

  7. I am in awe of these reasons. So original, as as Anne says, you have quite a way with words. I LOVE the wonder and the "magic" of Catholicism, but I never could have put it that way! I am so so so grateful you linked up. Come back on the First Friday in May, okay? I can't wait to read more.

    1. Yay, it's that time of month again!

  8. @Jenna YES! LotR book club!!..after Harry Potter ;) I'm going to read & reflect on #1 (christie says it's ok, she's read it) as soon as the library gets it back..you can do it anytime!!!

    @Christie. I don't know.. I hope I didn't get rid of it.. It might be that I started reading it after the flying inn and just decided it was boring because couldn't forgive the racism in TFI..or it might have seem like old news..I hope it's not in the shed getting rained on..I'm going to give it another try when I find it and let you know..if I find it :)

  9. I just stumbled across your blog and got sucked in by all the Chesterton love on your home page, and then had to comment on this beautifully written piece! So, so true! You can add me to the list of Catholic Tolkien fans who shared this experience.

    1. Thank you for commenting, and welcome to EtS. let me know if you ever want to talk Chesterton/Tolkien. c;


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