Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, the greatest gift of Almighty God to His Church. It took me ages to find this first passage in Tolkien. I had intended to put it up with other stuff, but until this very moment, by a special Grace of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I haven't been able to find it! Tolkien's personal piety was simple, Confession before Mass, Mass everyday (until the unfortunate changes of the 1960s, when Mass attendance became a ''bitter trial'' to use the expression of Evelyn Waugh), and Rosary before bed. The sole ultimate focus of his devotion was the Blessed Sacrament. I produce here the conclusion of a very moving letter he wrote to his son Michael in 1941:
''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 upon 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 Letters of J.R.R Tolkien, no. 43).
In another moving letter, written 22 years later to the same son, Tolkien writes:
''But I fell in love with the Blessed Sacrament from the beginning - and by the mercy of God never have fallen out again: but alas! I indeed did not live up to it...Out of wickedness and sloth I almost ceased to practice my religion - especially at Leeds, and at 22 Northmoor Road. Not for me the Hound of Heaven, but the never-ceasing silent appeal of Tabernacle, and the sense of starving hunger. I regret those days bitterly (and suffer for them with such patience as I can be given); most of all because I failed as a father. Now I pray for you all, unceasingly, that the Healer (the Hælend as the Saviour was usually called in Old English) shall heal my defects, and that none of you shall ever cease to cry Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.'' (Ibid. no. 250).
Have a solemn and blessed Feast and Octave of Corpus Christi all readers...and pray for me, I am sorely in need of it...
The above image is of Our Lady with the Sanctissimum; I thought the customary picture of an Ostensorium would be used by just about everyone else. Also, I was told by my parish priest, that Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament began as a Marian devotion.