Tolkien on the Angels

For the feast of the Guardian Angels, we want to share an excerpt from a letter written by JRR Tolkien in 1944. Here he recounts an insight he received during Eucharistic Adoration.

…. Your reference to the care of our guardian angel makes me fear that ‘he’ is being specially needed. I dare say it is so…. It also reminded me of a sudden vision (or perhaps apperception which at once turned itself into pictorial form in my mind) I had not long ago when spending half an hour in St. Gregory’s before the Blessed Sacrament when the Quarant’ Ore [40 hours] was being held here. I perceived or thought of the Light of God and in it suspended one small more (or millions of motes to only one of which was my small mind directed), glittering white because of the individual ray from the Light which both held and lit it. (Not that there were individual rays issuing from the Light, but the mere existence of the mote and its position in relation to the Light was in itself a line, and the line was Light). And the ray was the Guardian Angel of the mote: not a thing interposed between God and the creature, but God’s very attention itself, personalized. And I do not mean ‘personified,’ by a mere figure of speech according to the tendencies of human language, but a real (finite) person. Thinking of it since – for the whole thing was very immediate, and not recapturable in clumsy language, certainly not the great sense of joy that accompanied it and the realization that the shining poised mote was myself (or any other human person that I might thi9nk of with love) – it has occurred to me that (I speak diffidently and have no idea whether such a notion is legitimate: it is at any rate quite separate from the vision of the Light and the poised mote) this is a fainted parallel to the Infinite. AS the love of the Father and Son (who are infinite and equal) is a Person, so the love and attention of the Light to the Mote is a person (that is both with us and in Heaven): finite but divine: i.e. angelic. Anyway, dearest, I received comfort, part of which took this curious form, which I have (I fear) failed to convey: except that I have with me now a definite awareness of you poised and shining in the Light – though your face (as all our faces) is turned from it. But we might see the glimmer in the faces (and per sons as apprehended in love) of others….”

2 thoughts on “Tolkien on the Angels

  1. Talk about esoteric! I’m not sure I have the vaguest idea what he means. His use of English is so technical and precise (but I think not theological) that I must let it absorb me rather than the other way around. Have to dwell upon this!

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