In a hole in the ground there lived a Catholic. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with liturgical dancing and felt banners, nor yet a dry, bare, ungodly hole with modern Jesuits and new pathways: it was a Catholic-hole, which means the comfort of timeless faith and beauty. It had a perfectly placed round door like a porthole to heaven, painted in the blood of the martyrs – it was The Church, as all the people for many centuries called it. 

I mimic J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous introduction to The Hobbit simply because of what is on my mind of late: The Catholic faith, or what has become of it, and Tolkien, or how he lived his Catholic faith.

To begin, what is it about this illustrious writer that is so compelling? For one, I argue that Tolkien’s writings are the near-flawless expression of Catholicism within a fallen-world (or fallen-fictional-world). Whether initially intended or not, the mystery of iniquity and redemption permeate through his adventures of hobbits and dwarves. Esteemed historian Charles Coloumbe rightly calls Tolkien’s writings “a tribute to the enduring power and greatness of the Catholic tradition.”

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