“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” — Bilbo Baggins, speaking to his nephew and heir Frodo (The Lord of the Rings, Bk1 Ch3).
I’m inviting you, whoever you are and wherever you find yourself in this darkening world, to join me on an itinerary you may never have taken before: a 33-day journey toward the Heart of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as Sacred Scripture and Tradition present her to us, and as she is reflected through the lens of one of the greatest masterpieces of imaginative fiction in the English language, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Tolkien once declared in a letter to a priest friend who had read an advance copy of his novel, had been struck by its deep religious symbolism, and had picked up, in particular, on the Marian overtones of its depiction of Galadriel, one of its most powerful female characters: “it is on Our Lady [that] all my own small perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded” (Letter 142 to Fr. Robert Murray, SJ, 1953).
We will be finding our way through Middle-Earth, and encountering various characters, places, and powers, in roughly the same sequence that Frodo, Sam, and the other members of the Fellowship of the Ring encountered them; always asking ourselves, “What vision are we being given by the author here (whether consciously or unconsciously) of the Mother of God? How are we being shown how to grow in love and devotion for her, so as to be more quickly and easily plunged into the depths of the Mystery of God?”
If you come with an open heart, I can guarantee that this will not be a “There and Back Again” quest like Bilbo’s in The Hobbit, but more like the Quest of the Ring: a journey of losing in order to find, a journey of leaving behind the safe and familiar in order to become something greater than you, or anyone else in your life, could have imagined. Just like what happened to the members of the Fellowship.
I hope that you choose to use these daily posts as a path to consecrating yourself to Jesus through the Heart of his Blessed Mother, which is a life-changing practice embraced by millions of other Christians past and present. Each post will contain:
- a meditation inspired by The Lord of the Rings;
- a prayer (traditional or newly composed);
- a link to a musical piece, ancient or modern;
- some action points to consider implementing in your daily walk with Christ;
- some suggested references to help you go deeper.
You don’t have to begin on any particular date, but I will be timing the posts to coincide with the 33 days preceding May 31, the ordinary date of the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite) even though this year the feast will be superseded by the Solemnity of Pentecost—not an unhappy concurrence, since she is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit! What a glorious day to make or renew our consecration!
The month of May is traditionally a month dedicated to honoring Our Lady, through the prayer of the Holy Rosary and various devotional customs. Pope Francis just released a Letter for the Month of May, which contains two special prayers to be added to the rosary to obtain help in overcoming the unprecedented affliction we are under from the coronavirus pandemic.
Let us keep one another close in prayer, as we journey. Time to grab our walking sticks!
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