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J.R.R. Tolkien, Led Zeppelin and the Annunciation

“Mary is the Gate through which Christ entered this world!” —St. Ambrose

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Annunciation as “inaugurat[ing] ‘the fullness of time’, the time of the fulfilment of God’s promises.” It is a pivotal moment in human history. As the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) states: “Many holy fathers (Sts. JeromeCyril, Ephraim, Augustine) say that the consent of Mary was essential to the redemption. It was the will of GodSt. Thomas says (Summa III:30), that the redemption of mankind should depend upon the consent of the Virgin Mary. This does not mean that God in His plans was bound by the will of a creature, and that man would not have been redeemed if Mary had not consented. It only means that the consent of Mary was foreseen from all eternity, and therefore was received as essential into the design of God.”

In a celebrated sermon, the twelfth century saint, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, emphasised the drama of what was at stake for all mankind at that moment when the angel Gabriel awaited Mary’s reply:

“The angel awaits an answer. … We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you …Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise…This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet… Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God.”

The English writer J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic and therefore it should come as no surprise that in The Lord of the Rings he chose March 25 as the date that sees the archdemon Sauron’s end in the writer’s mythology of Middle Earth. Mary’s “Yes” marked the end of the reign of evil in our world, an ending that continues until this day, so Tolkien chose this date, too, to mark the end of an era of deep darkness. This co-incidence has been often been noted by Tolkien scholars.

Perhaps less well-known to many Catholics is the influence that Tolkien’s writings has had upon some of the imagery and lyrics in rock music. This is nowhere more noticeable than with the English rock band, Led Zeppelin.

Read more at National Catholic Register

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