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In Your Embrace

Author: Matthew Knight

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Hi, I'm Matthew, a Roman Catholic seminarian in the San Francisco Bay Area. 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 Sundays.

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146 Episodes
Episode 87: Deus Creator

Episode 87: Deus Creator


21 November 2021 | Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe | Menlo Park, Calif. On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we discuss the ending of The Hobbit, the eucatastrophe at the Battle of Five Armies, and the homecoming of Bilbo. What is the difference between deus ex machina and the providence of Deus Creator? What does it mean that Christ is King “already, but not yet”? And while we’re asking big questions: what is the purpose of life? Listen to hear Tolkien’s answers (and mine) to these and more than these! Opening music: “Christus vincit (‘Laudes regiae’),” sequence for the feast of Christ the King, sung by Sequentia (dir. Benjamin Bagby) and Dialogos (dir. Katarina Livljanić), 2012. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
14 November 2021 | VI Resumed Sunday after Epiphany | Menlo Park, Calif. This week on the podcast, we catch up with Bilbo and company at the Lonely Mountain and discuss some key differences between The Hobbit and the rest of Tolkien’s legendarium, as well as one controlling theme which unites this work and the Lord of the Rings. We consider the question: is courage determined by your Tookish blood? Also: musings on sacred art and beauty, the earthly liturgy as a living image of the heavenly liturgy, and one way altar servers are like angels! Opening music: “De profundis,” composed by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, sung by Capella Amsterdam, dir. Daniel Reuss, 2020. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
1 November 2021 | All Saints | Menlo Park, Calif. Returning after a brief interlude, we tackle the last two Unfinished Tales of the Third Age, consider why there is no friendship among thieves (or Nazgûl), and discuss the connection between All Saints and All Souls day - and why there’s hope for us all to make it to heaven! Opening music: “Gaudeamus omnes,” introit for the Solemnity of All Saints, sung by the Schola Cantorum of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, dir. Canon Louis Valadier, 2018. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
17 October 2021 | St. Ignatius of Antioch | Santa Rosa, Calif.  This week, we get a new perspective on the beginning of the Hobbit, as well as on one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays! Just what was Gandalf doing to prepare that fateful meeting behind Bilbo Baggins and Thorin Oakenshield? And could Lear and Cordelia be an allegory for Reformation England and the Catholic Church? Also in this episode: we commemorate one of our earliest and greatest martyrs, the God-bearing bishop of Antioch, with the account of his trial and readings from his letter to the Romans.  [Apologies for the audio issues in the Tolkien segment!] Opening music: “Dixit Dominus, Domino meo,” from Carmelite Vespers (HWV 232: No. 1, Chorus), composed by G.W.F. Handel, performed by the Taverner Choir and Players, dir. Andrew Parrott, 1989. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
10 October 2021 | XX Sunday after Pentecost | Menlo Park, Calif. Fall has fallen upon us at last! As I take in the crisp morning air this Sunday, I share some thoughts about midterms, ordination preparations, the passing of time and the turning of the seasons. In this week’s Tolkien readings, we learn some background details about the Dúnedain, the Istari, and the palantíri, and what the man really thought about the first cover design of the American paperback edition of The Hobbit! Also, how is the Church both the body and bride of Christ, as well as the people of God? We unpack it all here under the fading leaves. Opening music: “Ecce panis angelorum,” sequence by St. Thomas Aquinas, composed by Juan Alfonso Garcia, sung by Laudes Christi, dir. Lucian Onița, Timisoara, Romania, 2018. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
Episode 82: Father and Son

Episode 82: Father and Son


5 October 2021 | Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos | Menlo Park, Calif. Coming to you on a Tuesday night in the midst of midterms (but hey - better late than never, right?), I share some thoughts on priesthood, sonship and obedience in preparation for my M.A. thesis, as well as the friendship and father/son dynamic of Cirion and Eorl in this week’s reading from the Unfinished Tales. Plus, a little-known American saint makes the calendar! Other Tolkien news mentioned in this episode: Check out The Nature of Middle-Earth by Carl Hotstetter here Listen to his recent interview on The Tolkien Road here! Opening music: “O nata lux,” composed by Morten Lauridsen, sung by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, dir. Nicol Matt, 2018. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
26 September 2021 | Ss. Cosmas and Damian | Menlo Park, Calif. On this beautiful Sunday afternoon, we dive into the Disaster of the Gladden Fields, a short story with big implications for the Third Age of Middle-Earth. Also: who are the saints behind those names we hear so often in the First Eucharistic Prayer? We get to know a thing or two about Cosmas and Damian, two brothers among the saints much beloved by the Roman Church of old. Opening music: “Alleluia Mozarebe,” sung by Ensemble Organum, dir. Marcel Peres, 2002. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
19 September 2021 | St. Januarius | Menlo Park, Calif. This week, we finally close out the Silmarillion with its last appendix, “On the Rings of Power and the Third Age,” as well as the unlikely tale of how The Hobbit first came to be published and Tolkien’s reactions to the loss of his lifelong friend, C.S. Lewis. Also in this episode: St. Januarius, bishop, martyr, and miracle-worker! Just what is the meaning of his miraculous blood? Opening music: “The Cherubic Hymn,” mvt. 9 of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, composed and directed by Benedict Sheehan, sung by the St. Tikhon Choir, 2019. All rights reserved. --- Send in a voice message:
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:
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