When History Became Legend, and Legend Became Myth

The title of this article comes from one of the opening lines of the book “The Fellowship of the Ring.” The first, in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy of books written by JRR Tolkien. The full quote is both thought provoking and foreboding, and reads as follows.

“There came a time when things which should not have been forgotten were forgotten, and when history became legend, and legend became myth.”

In the present hour, these words ring true! For we live in such a time. A time that the Prophet Isaiah warned us of. A time of which he spoke of, “when evil would be portrayed as good, and good would be portrayed as evil.” A time when the Son of God is seen by the vast majority of people as just a good man, and that his being the Son of God a mere myth. A time when objective truth, which has been the foundation of our civilization for the last two millennia, is also considered a myth, and summarily denied. A time when Christ’s teachings on the meaning of true discipleship are supplanted by the masses in exchange for a pagan, hedonistic lifestyle with its singular focus on the pursuit of personal pleasure.

If Tolkien were alive today, I believe he would be saying much the same things. Tolkien was a visionary, who saw the weaknesses of humanity that, under the right circumstances, could be exploited and ultimately used to enslave many. Which he depicted in the power of the rings!

One need only look at the various addictions that plague our society to realize the truth of the matter. By all appearances, there is little to no effort undertaken to eradicate these addictions, as they serve only to enslave.

He was certainly not alone in his dire concerns for humanity in the foreseeable future. Like Aldous Huxley, the author of “Brave New World”, and George Orwell, the author of “Animal Farm” and “1984”, his views on the plight of humanity in a society filled with injustice and great suffering, are decidedly dystopian in nature. But unlike the others, his views contain a prevailing message, that in the end, good will conquer evil.

Indeed, central to each of these three men’s writings is that humanity will encounter such a dystopian future. How prescient they appear to have been! As their visions of humanity’s future are unfolding right before our eyes!

Each had their own unique point of view. But my focus in this article will be on those of JRR Tolkien. For his perspective came from his deeply Catholic point of view. His views of the future were written in myth but convey eternal truths. He, unlike the others, enveloped within his writings, the critical supernatural aspects to this great struggle we find ourselves in today.

In my view, this supernatural and Catholic perspective makes Tolkien unique. For one cannot fully grasp the depth and gravity of our current circumstances without understanding the spiritual and diabolical dimensions of this epic battle.

One of the great lines from the movie Forrest Gump is “Stupid is what stupid does.” In truth, the same can be said for evil. Evil is what evil does! And if one surveys our society’s current norms, one finds the meteoric rise in addiction, violence, and lawlessness that are inexplicably condoned and quite possibly fostered.

Many who would defend the state of our present society point to statistics that bear no resemblance to what we see and experience on a daily basis. Regrettably  these statistics, while quite bad on their surface, do not reflect the many crimes that are not prosecuted by woke district attorneys in cities across the country!

Sadly, today life in our inner cities closely resembles the life depicted in Gotham City, that many of us read about in comic books of our youth! Who would have thought that Marvel Comic Books would have been so prophetic! And there is a clear trend that the addictions, violence, and lawlessness are migrating into many of our suburban areas as well. Evil is what evil does.

To grasp a glimpse of the spiritual and diabolical dimensions of this epic struggle, one need only comprehend the vision that  Pope St. Leo XIII had in 1884. It occurred at a mass at which he was presiding. As the mass was drawing to a close, the pope stood before the altar and fell into a trance-like state.

He heard voices. One a guttural voice, he believed to be Satan, stated, “if I am granted more power over those who will subject themselves to me, and more time I can destroy your Church on earth.” A gentle and loving voice, which he believed to be that of God, asked, “how much time?” And the guttural voice replied, “a hundred years.” The gentle and loving voice responded, “you have the increased power and time.”

We do not know when those hundred years began or whether that number is to be taken literally. Or more importantly, why God granted Satan’s request in the first place.

But so shaken was he by this experience, that the pope sat down immediately and authored the prayer to St Michael the Archangel. He then sent a copy of it to each of the bishops of the Universal Church with specific instructions that it should be recited by the faithful after each low mass. This custom was held until it was suppressed in 1964 by the Second Vatican Council.

Now if what the pope heard is true, and I personally believe it to be so, then this epic battle between good and evil, that we are presently witnessing, has as its origin a spiritual and diabolic dimension. A battle that has reached its final and decisive phase! God against Satan! The Church against the anti-Church! And Life against anti-Life! To quote from the Book of Genesis where God addresses Satan after the fall of Adam and Eve,

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers. They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel” (Gn 3: 15).

Mary is the woman of Genesis. It’s no wonder that there has been such a prevalence of Marian apparitions around the world in the last two hundred years, beginning at Rue du Bac in 1830! While in that same timeframe, Karl Marx wrote and published “The Communist Manifesto” in 1848.

In 1929, twelve years after her appearance in Fatima, our Blessed Mother warned Lucia, one of the visionaries of Fatima, of the dangers posed to us by the spread of communism. Our Lady instructed her to request the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart by the pope and all the bishops of the world. If this was not done, she said a greater war would ensue.

While many prayers were offered for this intention, the consecration was not done as instructed at that time and World War II ensued. Russia did spread the errors of communism far and wide as prophesized, even to our own shores. At its root, communism is anti-God, anti-Church and anti-Life!

Clearly the opposing commanders of this epic battle were foreordained in the quote from the Book of Genesis above; and the battle lines drawn between the Church and anti-Church; while the battle plans for both sides of this contest were delineated and laid out in full display before Pope St. Leo XIII’s vision even occurred! Only the tactics to be deployed in this epic battle remained unclear to those with a discerning eye. Today, we see those tactics being deployed to full effect.

Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy depicts the good and beautiful as representative of the Church, with archangels and angels aiding the cause of the faithful, against the evil and ugly as representative of the anti-Church, with Satan and his diabolic hoard of demons and those who have subjected themselves to the powers of Satan and his minions.

In reality, these demonic forces are the fallen angels that are mentioned in the Book of Revelation. They are also referenced in the various letters of St. Paul as powers and principalities, thrones and dominions. Fallen angels from all of the nine choirs of angels!

Tolkien, as a devout Catholic, fully perceived that the epic final phase of this battle had commenced in his own time! Aware of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, which occurred less than twenty years before he began to write his trilogy, Tolkien would have known what our Blessed Mother had told the children of Fatima,

“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph!”

By these words, he knew this epic battle would be won by the forces of good, just as his trilogy depicts. Indeed, it will be won by virtuous people of faith who are disciples of the only Son of God and his Church. They will be led into battle by our Blessed Mother and supported by God’s heavenly hosts. These faithful souls will be principally armed with eternal truth, as well as the gifts they have received from our Lady, namely the rosary, the Miraculous medal and the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. They will be fortified for the battle by the sacraments of Christ’s Church and by the continuous intercession of our Blessed Mother before the throne of God. And in the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph!

St Paul knew well how Christians were to prepare for this battle, by virtue of the many struggles he endured during his own discipleship. He summarized this preparation in four verses from his Letter to the Romans.

“It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is far spent, the day draws near. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh.” (Rom 13: 11-14)

Our mindset must be vigilantly focused on the final phase of this epic battle. It’s time for us to awake from sleep and realize our participation in this battle is essential. Each of us should realize that we have been chosen by God to live at this crucial time for an express purpose, his purpose! In truth, a great honor or a fatal sentence. Which it will be, is up to us! Each of us has a vital role to play “in fighting this good fight.”

Time is of the essence! Do not delay! Lives are at risk of being lost forever! If we faithfully engage the enemy in this epic battle, when our life on earth is over we will be shown the many lives saved by virtue of a life well lived. And I’m quite certain that those that respond to the call, when that day arrives, will hear Almighty God say to them “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter your Master’s joy!”

Photo by Sergio García on Unsplash


"Deacon Frank" is a permanent deacon in the United States. He is involved in the Eucharistic Revival.

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