Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2017

Exploring Tolkien's Theology: The Battle for Middle-earth by Fleming Rutledge

Thematically, Fleming Rutledge's The Battle for Middle-earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings (Eerdmans Publishing, 2004) makes an excellent companion piece to Stratford Caldecott's The Power of the Ring(Crossroad Publishing, 2005) which I read earlier this year and inspired the formation of The Servants of the Secret Fire. Both books unveil Christian themes in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings—Caldecott also explores Tolkien's other writings—what makes Rutledge's work unique from other Christian explorations of Tolkien is that Rutledge follows the narrative as it is written of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to follow a deeper narrative, beneath the surface of the text, of the hidden battle between The Powers of Evil, Sin and Death, and God in the interior spirit and will of the characters.

Rutledge has done more to make real the supernatural drama of LotR, and frankly the Christian life, than I've previously encountered, perhap…

Recommended Reading: Advent

A little late in the game, but here are a few titles that I recommend for Advent reading:

Reed of God by Caryll Houselander (Ave Maria Press, 2006) is the most classically "spiritual reading" of these Advent readings. Houselander uses the lens of Mary's life to talk about being drawn deeper into life in Christ, beginning with becoming empty, like a reed that will become shaped by God to become a flute that sings His glory.

Mary's Advent emptiness made straight the path that Christ might be conceived by the Holy Spirit in her; our emptiness makes way for Christ's indwelling of our hearts. Mary gives the gift of her flesh to the Son of God that he might become flesh; likewise we have become the Body of Christ. Several of the reflections on the Incarnation as being the gift of Mary's flesh affected my own love of Mary but of these the most arresting was Houselander's reflection that by receiving her flesh, Jesus also receives her death without which there is …

Mystagogy Reading: Know Him in the Breaking of the Bread

Reading Know Him in the Breaking of the Bread is a continuation of my reading the Bibliography from Stratford Caldecott's The Seven Sacraments: Entering the Mysteries of God as personal mystagogy. 
Know Him in the Breaking of the Bread: A Guide to the Mass by Fr. Francis Randolph (Ignatius Press, 1998) is a very instructive description of the elements of the mass in the order they're celebrated, with a little prescriptive opinion thrown in to spice things up. The book is non-technical, free of theological or liturgical jargon, and easy to read. Fr Randolph is clear and concise in explaining the parts of the Mass, and several of his insights and explanations have altered the way I will be present to Mass and even the way I live out my every day participation in Christ's priestly office for the better. I recommend this to just about anyone who desires greater understanding and deeper participation of the Most Holy Sacrament. 
Years ago, I led a program called Religious Reflec…

Mystagogy Reading: Heretics by G.K. Chesterton

Reading Heretics by G.K. Chestserton is a continuation of my reading the Bibliography from Stratford Caldecott's The Seven Sacraments: Entering the Mysteries of God as personal mystagogy.

I am not new to Chesterton, and I'm sure to no one's surprise, his Heretics inspires much self-reflection on the reader's assumptions and acceptance of modern philosophies, ideas and notions while provoking smiles with his paradoxes and ever-present humor. The book is not a description or refutation of formal Christian heresies— such as Nestorianism or Docetism—but reveals and criticizes the fallacious dogmas and ideals of the modern age including the glorification of progress, scientism, wit & solemnity for their own sakes, technocracy, tourism, aestheticism, modern ritualism, and bad democracy. While the essays within take on specific "heretics" of note from Mr Chesterton's time, each individual addressed is merely a lens by which Chesterton focuses his insight and…

On Priests & the Universal Call to Sainthood: Their Cross to Bear

In Adrienne von Speyr's The Cross: Word and Sacrament, von Speyr links each of Christ's seven last words to one of the Seven Sacraments; positing that each "word" is a blessing from the Cross upon that sacrament, a commentary, and above all an intimate connection between the Paschal and Sacramental Mysteries. "If the Lord's words are all a piece of his life, and if he surrenders his life on the Cross for His Church, it follows that the Lord's words from the Cross are closely knit to, parallel to, the sacraments, those vessels of the life of the divine grace which overflows from the Cross into the Church." The links are as follows:

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do - PenanceYou will be with me this day in Paradise - Anointing of the SickBehold your son, Behold your mother - MarriageMy God, My God! Why have you forsaken me - Holy OrdersI thirst - EucharistIt is finished - BaptismInto your hands, Lord, I commend my Spirit - Confirmatio…