Do you know what is considered the “Catholic worldview”?
We see it illustrated in this Sunday’s readings:
- Elijah, fed while wearily journeying through the desert
- St. Paul urging us to love one another, since we were sealed by the Holy Spirit “for the day of redemption”
- Jesus’ allusion to the Hebrews’ weary journey through the desert, fed by manna — and declaration that He is the Bread of Life
The Catholic worldview is also illustrated by one of my all-time favorite movies, based on the writings of a Catholic fantasy author.
John Ronald Ruel Tolkien carefully crafted perhaps the greatest of all literature’s fantastical worlds: Middle Earth, wherein a small, humble ‘nobody’ from a place no one had heard of, was chosen to carry the Enemy’s most dangerous object, on a treacherous journey, to cast it into a fiery pit and forever destroy it.
While bearing his heavy burden on this most difficult journey, Tolkien’s hero meets a mystical race of people—tall, beautiful and wise—who entrust him with gifts to aid his journey: protection, defense, medicine, and a supply of their bread.
This ancient bread is called Lembas, which in their language means “Waybread” or “journey bread”. It is also called Coimas, meaning “life-bread”.
For me as a Catholic, watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films is like watching life’s most important truths in poetic motion. Tolkien tells a fantastic tale with his Catholic imagination, revealing our faith’s ultimate worldview:
“The Church … will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven,” at the time of Christ’s glorious return. Until that day, “the Church progresses on her pilgrimage amidst this world’s persecutions and God’s consolations.” Here below she knows that she is in exile far from the Lord, and longs for the full coming of the Kingdom, when she will “be united in glory with her king.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 769)
Embodied in Tolkien’s hero, we see both a Christ-figure and our own selves. The Catholic worldview is this: like Christ before us, we are pilgrims on a journey.
Do each of us, Catholics, while going about our daily tasks, view life as a pilgrimage – a journey, filled with obstacles and joys? Do we see life as a tiring yet invigorating adventure; with the Eucharistic “waybread” to sustain and strengthen us; with the sacraments and sacramentals to protect, defend, and heal us; with a mission and a destination, on which the entire world depends?
What would happen if we all lived like pilgrims?
One of my greatest joys of working at the Pilgrim Center of Hope is awakening individuals to this awesome reality: you are a pilgrim, and together we are a pilgrim people. May this reminder bring you hope today.