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In Your Embrace

Author: Matthew Knight

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Hi, I'm Matthew, a Roman Catholic seminarian on pastoral assignment in the Pacific Northwest. Come take a walk with me as we discuss Christian life, faith, liturgy, priestly formation, philosophy, theology, Shakespeare, Tolkien, and a whole lot more. Be, Jesus, our joy! Podcast updated weekly on Saturdays.

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138 Episodes
Episode 79: The Bitter Sea

Episode 79: The Bitter Sea


12 September 2021 | The Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary | Menlo Park, Calif. On this night walk, amidst the music of crickets and frogs and the prowling of foxes and other creatures best left unnamed, we talk about the long histories of Galadriel and Celeborn, and the meaning of the name of Mary. Plus, what do “the fairest daughter of the Eldar” and “the fairest of our race” have in common? (Less than some scholars would have you believe, but more than meets the eye!) Opening music: “Ave maris stella,” composed by Josquin des Prez, sung by the St. Bartholomew’s Schola, dir. Shannon Gallier, Atlanta, GA, 2014. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
Episode 78: Romanitas

Episode 78: Romanitas


5 September 2021 | Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost | Grass Valley, Calif. Speaking to you this holiday weekend from a friend’s parish deep in rural California, we take a look at several of Tolkien’s later letters and his own life as a hobbit called out of his hole on many adventures! Also, what does it mean that we belong to the Roman rite? If you’ve ever wanted to know the meaning of inculturation, look no farther. Opening music: “Let thy hand be strengthened, composed by G. W. F. Handel, sung by The Sixteen, dir. Harry Christophers, 2009. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
29 August 2021 | Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost | Menlo Park, Calif. “‘Let a King first rule well his own house ere he correct others’, it is said. It is true of all men.” —J.R.R. Tolkien, “Aldarion and Erendis" Friends, after two whirlwind weeks in transition from pastoral ministry back to academic life, I’m glad to be speaking to you again from the grounds of St. Patrick’s Seminary - and I have a lot to talk about, from Aldarion to Akallabêth, from our first day of classes to what the Lord is asking of me this term. Let’s take a walk! Opening music: “Bless the Lord, O My Soul” (Psalm 103), composed by Nikolai Kedrov, sung by the choir of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, Yonkers, NY, 2017. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
Episode 76: Swan Song

Episode 76: Swan Song


7 August 2021 | St. Cajetan | Eugene, Ore. It’s a typical Saturday for me in the parish (though not for much longer!), and in between weddings and youth group meetings, I’m delighted to take this hour to talk with you about Tuor son of Huor and his coming to Gondolin—images of baptism and echoes of the prophets abound in this gloriously unfinished tale! Plus, we receive some hard-hitting spiritual direction from St. Cajetan, the fifteenth-century reformer, and I take a stab at a theology of departures. Opening music: “Ave Maria,” composed by Tomás Luis de Victoria, sung by Hespèrion XX, dir. Jordi Savall, 1992. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
31 July 2021 | St. Ignatius of Loyola | Eugene, Ore. This week on the podcast: some stories and reflections from our seminarian retreat on the beautiful Oregon Coast; my reactions to Tolkien’s “Children of Húrin,” the “longest of the lays of Beleriand” and first among the Unfinished Tales; lessons on the discernment of spirits from St. Ignatius; and a comment on Pope Francis’ latest motu proprio, Traditionis custodes. If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between disciplinary measures and theological claims, just what is meant by lex orandi, lex credendi, or what’s at stake with all this Latin Mass business anyway, I do my best to explain it all here! Lacho calad! Drego morn! Opening music: “Ave Regina caelorum,” composed by Juan Gutierrez de Padilla, sung by the Los Angeles Chamber Singers, dir. Peter Rutenberg, 2016. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
24 July 2021 | St. Charbel Makhlouf | Eugene, Ore. We’ve come at last to the final chapter of the Silmarillion! As we read of the fateful voyage of Eärendil and the final War of Wrath, we dive into the major themes of this epic saga, including the lingering effects of evil, the “long defeat,” and the real source of our hope, as well as the Silmarils themselves. What might these precious gems signify in Tolkien’s legendarium? We also venerate the great myrrh-streaming Saint of Lebanon, Charbel Makhlouf, on this his holy feast.  Opening music: “Abun di bashmayya” (Our Father in Aramaic), sung by Archimandrite Seraphim and parishioners at Elevation of the Triumphant Cross Monastery, Qanda, Georgia, 2016. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
17 July 2021 | Bl. Teresa of Saint Augustine and Companions, Virgin Martyrs of Compiègne | Eugene, Ore. …the fall of Gondolin, that is, and the ruin of Doriath, which we witness in this week’s chapters of the Silmarillion. We discuss how disobedience leads to destruction and leaves the good easy prey for the wicked. Today’s saints, the Carmelite martyrs of Compiègne, provide a beautiful counter-example by their humble obedience, even unto death.  Opening music: “Flos Carmeli,” sequence for the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, sung by Schola Cantorum de Regina Pacis, Klaipeda, Lithuania, 2012. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
10 July 2021 | Seven Holy Brothers | Eugene, Ore. This week in the Silmarillion, we get a front seat to the fifth battle of the Second Age (spoiler alert: it goes no better than the last four) and gain some insights into spiritual warfare from the nearly Shakespearean tragedy of Túrin Turambar, one of my favorite stories so far! I’m also excited to share what’s been inspiring me recently: a revolution in spiritual leadership being spearheaded by our Archbishop and my own pastor, the renovation the Holy Spirit is bringing about here in the Church, and some thoughts on “holy desire”—the narrow way between Stoicism and addiction walked by the saints.  Opening music: “O tu illustrata,” composed by St. Hildegard von Bingen, sung by VocaMe, dir. Michael Popp, 2012. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
3 July 2021 | St. Irenaeus of Lyons | Eugene, Ore. This week, we come at last to the romance at the heart of the Silmarillion, the saga of Beren One-Hand and Lúthien Tinúviel! We discuss the themes of complementarity, interdependence, and conquering through weakness which play out in this beautiful story of love and loss. Also, we read a fragment of St. Irenaeus on the Gospel of Matthew which sheds light on how God looks upon our own weakness and the imperfection of our hearts. Opening music: “Beren and Lúthien,” written by J.R.R. Tolkien, arranged and sung by Clamavi de Profundis, 2018. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
29 June 2021 | Ss. Peter and Paul | Eugene, Ore. After a week away from the podcast (and a record-breaking heatwave here in the Northwest!), we’re back and skimming lightly over hundreds of years’ history in the middle chapters of the Silmarillion. Also in this episode: Tolkien’s answer to the question “what is the Lord of the Rings all about?”, St. John Henry Newman on the contrary yet vital spirits of Peter and Paul, and what lies behind the recently newsworthy doctrine of “Eucharistic coherence.” Opening music: “Gloria” from the Lord Nelson Mass, composed by Franz Josef Haydn, sung by the Bach Choir of Wellington, 2017. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
15 June 2021 | Third Tuesday after Pentecost | Eugene, Ore. Back home after another friend’s ordination and another round of first Masses and festivities, I share with you my reflections on my own upcoming ordination and the beauty and terror of the priesthood. We also discuss the theme of division between brothers in the Silmarillion and the techniques of evil used by Morgoth to achieve the domination he desires. And just what is this “kerygma” you’ve been hearing about, anyway? We unpack the term in this week’s theology segment, with the unlikely help of J.R.R. Tolkien and Fr. Brett Brannen.  Opening music: “Te lucis ante terminum,” hymn for the Office of Compline (ferial tone), arr. Thomas Tallis, sung by the King’s Singers, 2020. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
Episode 68: All in All

Episode 68: All in All


9 June 2021 | Second Wednesday after Pentecost | Eugene, Ore. In this week’s episode, I share what I learned from last week’s Sacred Liturgy Conference on the theme of “Incarnation in the Eucharist!” We also follow the latest developments in Valinor as Fëanor forges the Silmarils, Melkor foments rebellion, and the bliss of the Blessed Ones seems to be coming to an end… Opening music: “Salve Regina,” composed by Paul Jernberg, sung by the Brookline Consort, 2018. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
1 June 2021 | St. Justin Martyr | Spokane, Wash.  Recorded for the first time in the great state of Washington (where I’m attending a liturgical conference, as well as some friends’ ordinations), this week’s episode features the themes of transition, divided hearts and misguided mercy in chapters 4-6 of the Silmarillion, centered around the question: In the end, will we regret anything that has happened in the past? We also touch on the relationship between faith and hope, two virtues of fundamental importance for the Christian life, and examine the life of St. Justin Martyr, who illustrates a life lived in the splendor of them both.  Opening music: “Ecce sacerdos magnus,” introit for the Mass of a Confessor Bishop, composed by Tomas Luís de Victoria, sung by The Cardinall’s Musick, dir. Andrew Carwood, 1998. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
25 May 2021 | St. Bede the Venerable | Eugene, Ore.  Surprise! A new episode on a Tuesday! I share about my experiences last week emceeing confirmation Masses and translating Latin texts, then take you on a tour of the first three chapters of the Quenta Silmarillion, where we discover the origins of orcs, ents, dwarves and elves. Finally, some necessary distinctions are made between grace, charity, and the Holy Spirit.  Opening music: “Veni Sancte Spiritus,” motet for the feast of Pentecost, composed by William Byrd, sung by The Cambridge Singers, dir. John Rutter, 2002. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
16 May 2021 | St. Simon Stock | Eugene, Ore.  This week’s episode comes a day late because I have been laid up this weekend with a cold. I make up for it with a lengthy discussion of Tolkien’s “Waldman Letter” (no. 131) which discusses the history, inspiration and major themes of his legendarium, as well as the first two tales of the Silmarillion, Ainulindalë and Valaquenta. Also in this week’s episode: St. Simon Stock, the scapular promise, and the roles of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary in the sanctification of the soul!  Link to the Waldman Letter:  Note: I am recording this episode using new software and still tweaking the settings. Let me know if you notice any audio issues or abnormalities.  Opening music: “Viri Galilaei,” introit for the feast of the Ascension, composed by William Byrd, sung by The Cardinall’s Musick, 2004. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
Episode 64: All’s Well

Episode 64: All’s Well


8 May 2021 | Fifth Saturday of Easter | Eugene, Ore. ...That ends well, that is! Today marks the end of the Shakespeare 2020 Project, begun nearly a year and a half ago. I share my reactions to Coriolanus and All’s Well that Ends Well and final thoughts on the project, as well as my rankings of the comedies and tragedies! Also in this episode: gardening and the spiritual life, the good (and the difficulty) of having a routine, and the link between the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion, which we’re about to begin next week. Opening music: “Magnificat Primi Toni,” composed by Giovanni Pierliugi da Palestina, sung by VOCES8, London, 2019. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
1 May 2021 | St. Joseph the Workman | Eugene, Ore. In this week’s episode, I share about some powerful conversations I have had recently with people in the parish, as well as my definitive rankings of Shakespeare’s romances and history plays! (The first place winner in each genre may surprise you!) Finally, some thoughts from Tolkien on what it means to take evil seriously (without losing hope) and how to work like St. Joseph (not to win love, but to give love). Time is short and eternity is long, friends, so let’s dive in! Opening music: “Te Joseph celebrent,” sung by the Monks of the Abbey of Notre Dame, 2007. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
25 April 2021 | St. Mark the Evangelist | Eugene, Ore. How better to end a busy week than a long walk by moonlight, holding forth on some of our favorite literary and theological themes? What do Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra have in common with King Lear, or Tolkien with James Joyce—or, for that matter, St. Mark with his iconic lion? It’s all on the table in this Sunday’s episode! Opening music: “O magnum mysterium,” composed by Giovanni Gabrieli, sung by the Choir of King’s College Cambridge, dir. Stephen Cleobury, 2015. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
17 April 2021 | Pope St. Anicetus | Eugene, Ore.  “A story grows like a seed in the dark out of the leaf-mould of the mind: out of all that has been seen or thought or read, that has long ago been forgotten, descending into the deeps.” —J.R.R. Tolkien This week, join me not just for a sunny walk (redolent of summer out of season), but a tour of four books which are adding lately to the “leaf-mould” of my mind. On Looking: Eleven Walks through Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz is about the art of close attention and the whole world around us which disappears from sight because of its familiarity. The Memoirs of St. Peter is a new translation of the Gospel of St. Mark by Michael Pakaluk which I am excited to recommend! Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida is a satirical take on the Trojan War which plays with the consonance between war and romance, that lust for conquest which the medievals called the “libido dominandi.” Finally, I share my impressions so far of Dr. Holly Ordway’s new book, Tolkien’s Modern Reading: Middle-Earth Beyond the Middle Ages, which excavates the leaf-mould of his own fertile imagination.   Opening music: “Jubilate Deo,” composed by Orlando di Lasso, sung by Adoremus Slovak Choir, dir. Antonella Stellabotte, 2013. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
10 April 2021 | Easter Saturday | Eugene, Ore. In this week’s episode, I share about my second Holy Week in a row in quarantine and the joy of coming to Easter after several days in the “tomb!” Then we come at last to the end of the Lord of the Rings and discuss the hobbits’ return to the Shire through the theme of change. What does it mean for us to come back changed from life’s journey and find that home has changed as well? Finally, at the end of this Easter Octave, we discuss what an octave is and why we have them in the life of the Church.  Note: I apologize for the audio quality in this episode - I’ve had to record it with my computer’s built-in microphone after the catastrophic failure of my external mic during the first take this morning! Hopefully I will have a replacement before next week’s installment. Opening music: “Quasi modo geniti infantes,” introit for the Second Sunday of Easter, sung by the Choeur de l’Abbaye de Solesmnes, dir. Dom Joseph Gajard, 2017. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
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