Model of Consecration: Frodo (IV)

This post is dedicated to David Clayton, for showing us The Way of Beauty

Meditation of the Day

Before Frodo departs the Hall of Fire to spend time with Bilbo, his attention is arrested by the intoning of a hymn to Elbereth. He looks back, and notices that Arwen and Aragorn are speaking together. “Arwen turned towards him, and the light of her eyes fell on him from afar and pierced his heart” (Bk2 Ch1). It is no coincidence that this piercing of Frodo’s heart by Evenstar’s inner beauty happens at precisely the moment when she is conversing with her beloved Elfstone, the one who would lay down his mortal life for her, and for whom she would lay down her immortal life. There is nothing that makes divine Love more perfectly visible in this created world than the love of man and woman—made in the image and likeness of God, called to form a one-flesh union.

This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:32

Of course, spousal love is not the only earthly reality that can have this transfixing effect on us. All true art can pierce our hearts. When this happens, everything mundane, as ponderously real as it seemed, is suddenly dispelled as though it were but a bubble. Time is suspended, as we unexpectedly touch the eternal. Everything truly human in us awakens.

But Frodo is not merely beholding Beauty (as he had already done during the feast, seated at Elrond’s table); now he experiences being beheld by Beauty. His innermost self is exposed to a Beauty that has a name, that knows his name. And it is a gaze of love . . . which is both consoling and painful. Arwen gazes at Frodo, as one in whom she perceives the same self-emptying love that animates her and her betrothed; as one without whose voluntary self-offering their nuptial union would be impossible. Their destinies are inextricably linked. There could be no greater expression of the debt of love that Arwen Evenstar feels toward Frodo than her parting gift to him:

‘A gift I will give you. For I am the daughter of Elrond. I shall not go with him now when he departs to the Havens; for mine is the choice of Lúthien, and as she so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter. But in my stead you shall go, Ring-bearer, when the time comes, and if you then desire it. If your hurts grieve you still and the memory of your burden is heavy, then you may pass into the West, until all your wounds and weariness are healed.’ (Bk6 Ch6)

Like John the Baptist, the celibate priest Frodo is a “friend of the Bridegroom.” It is fitting that he should pass into the West while Elessar enters into his glorious reign. “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29-30).

The Blessed Virgin is God’s masterpiece, the highest expression of uncreated Beauty in a created being; she is no inanimate statue or painting, but a living person who can return our gaze, who knows our name, who loves in us what she first loved in her Son, who desires to reproduce his likeness in us as we invite and allow her to do so. To be consecrated to her is to live under the gaze of Beauty continually. To consecrate something means to set it apart, to withdraw it permanently from profane use so that it may be entirely dedicated to divine service. To consecrate our senses to our Blessed Lady, the perfect created manifestation of uncreated Beauty, requires us to withdraw them from what is deformed and corrupted by evil, and to direct them instead toward “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely” (Phil. 4:8a).

Prayer

O Domina mea! O Mater mea! tibi me totum offero, atque ut me tibi probem devotum, consecro tibi hodie oculos meos, aures meas, os meum, cor meum, plane me totum. Quoniam itaque tuus sum, O bona Mater, serva me, defende me, ut rem et possessionem tuam.


Invocation in any temptation:
O Domina mea! O Mater mea! memento me esse tuum. Serva me, defende me, ut rem et possessionem.
My Queen! my Mother! I give thee all myself; and to show my devotion to thee, I consecrate to thee this day my eyes, ears, mouth, heart, myself wholly and without reserve. Wherefore, O loving Mother, as I am thine own, keep me, defend me, as thy property and thy own possession.

Invocation in any temptation:
My Queen! my Mother! remember I am thine own.
Keep me, defend me, as thy property, thy own possession.
O Domina mea!

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Going through our five senses one at a time, let’s consider what it means concretely for us to withdraw them from what is profane and reserve them for the sacred. In our highly visual and overstimulated age, this may mean periodically giving our senses a break from the relentless pummelling we subject them to, from dawn to dusk. In other words, choosing to switch off our screens and finding rest in something that is simply and naturally beautiful. Like a flower, a poem, a piece of music.

To Go Deeper

Arwen | Vessel of Honour

Chalice of the Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis (12th c.)

Meditation of the Day

Hidden within the House of Elrond, hidden in turn within the secret Valley of Rivendell, lives the greatest treasure of Elvendom in the land of exile: Arwen Undómiel (Evenstar), “whom few mortals had yet seen” (Bk2 Ch1). These three potent Marian images are nested within one another, much like the Biblical triad, Land of Promise—City of God—Bride of the Lamb. Frodo first beholds her seated in majesty at Elrond’s table. “Such loveliness in living thing Frodo had never seen before nor imagined in his mind”:

Young she was and yet not so. The braids of her dark hair were touched by no frost; her white arms and clear face were flawless and smooth, and the light of stars was in her bright eyes, grey as a cloudless night; yet queenly she looked, and thought and knowledge were in her glance, as of one who has known many things that the years bring. Above her brow her head was covered with a cap of silver lace netted with small gems, glittering white; but her soft grey raiment had no ornament save a girdle of leaves wrought in silver.

Arwen has the traits of a maiden, despite her great age (2,777 years to be precise!), and the traits of a queen. She is the living, personal embodiment of the ideals that the House of Elrond exists to safeguard. The subdued dignity of her outward appearance manifests the humility that authenticates her wisdom. She draws no attention to herself, yet is deservedly honoured by a seat of her own, in the middle of the table, under a canopy. She comes by her beauty not as a result of winning the genetic lottery, as we say, but as a sign of supernatural election: “in [her] it was said that the likeness of Lúthien had come on earth again.” Her appearance, then, is a sign that world-changing events will unfold in her lifetime—a turning of the ages, or in Christian terms, the “fullness of the time” (Gal. 4:4). There is a sense of consecration in her millennia-long virginity: refusing to marry despite (presumably) no shortage of suitors indicates a strong sense of a unique personal destiny. Like “virgin Israel” (Jer. 31:4), and Mary of Nazareth, she has been keeping herself for the one promised king, who would come to set the captives free. And for him, she is willing to set aside her immortality, like her foremother Lúthien.

Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord (Elizabeth, praising Mary, in Luke 1:45).

Behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed (Mary, concurring, in Luke 1:48).

As with our great Virgin Queen, it is above all Arwen’s faith in Aragorn that elevates her above all other women of her time. She goes on believing, as the years and decades of his mortal life slip by like the sand in an hourglass, despite the extremely low probability of his ever successfully claiming the united throne of Arnor and Gondor (which her father Elrond had set as a requirement for their marriage). One very powerful symbol of her faith is the royal banner that she makes for him in secret, and conveys to him by her brothers in the darkest hour of the War of the Ring. Such is the faith that can move mountains . . . and make a crownless ranger king. She shares fully in his redemptive mission, just as Mary does with Christ’s. Her com-passion unites her to his passion.

Prayer

Tota pulchra es, Maria. 
Et macula originalis non est in Te. 
Tu gloria Ierusalem. 
Tu laetitia Israel. 
Tu honorificentia populi nostri. 
Tu advocata peccatorum. 
O Maria, O Maria. 
Virgo prudentissima. 
Mater clementissima. 
Ora pro nobis. 
Intercede pro nobis. 
Ad Dominum Iesum Christum.
All fair art thou, O Mary.
The original stain is not in thee.
Thou art the glory of Jerusalem.
Thou art the joy of Israel.
Thou art the honour of our people.
Thou art the advocate of sinners.
O Mary, O Mary.
Virgin most prudent.
Mother most clement.
Pray for us.
Intercede for us
to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Tota pulchra es, Maria

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Spend some time reflecting upon the qualities that made the Blessed Virgin worthy of honour, before the Annunciation (even though her humility made her wonder why Gabriel was greeting her so deferentially). Make a list of concrete ways in which you could show her greater honour—comparable to the honour shown to Arwen in Elrond’s hall.
  • Consider how we give joy and honour to Mary by devoutly reciting short, simple prayers, such as the Hail Mary, the Angelus, and other prayers we have been discovering in our journey to consecration. Resolve to incorporate more of these prayers into your life.

To Go Deeper

Model of Consecration: Sam (I)

Meditation of the Day

It is not only Frodo who is forged into his heroic identity in the fair House of Elrond. After imbibing the ambient Elvish wisdom to his heart’s content, at the decisive moment lowly Sam Gamgee makes the equally heroic choice to accompany his master to the end, even though he knows even less about the destination or the way there. “‘But you won’t send him off alone surely, Master?’ cried Sam [to Elrond], unable to contain himself any longer. (. . .) ‘No indeed!’ said Elrond, turning towards him with a smile. ‘You at least shall go with him. It is hardly possible to separate you from him'” (Bk2 Ch2).

Sam is the absolute underdog: everyone else overlooks hobbits, and even other hobbits overlook Sam. He is just a humble gardener, the servant of the gentlehobbit Frodo, the servant of the servants of God—oh wait, isn’t that the most solemn title of the Pope? . . . We shouldn’t let Sam’s simple, childish ways mislead us into dismissing his importance. He is the one whose astounding bravery and devotion will allow Frodo and the Ring to reach Orodruin, beyond all hope. Unquestionably, Sam is driven by no other motive than self-sacrificial love for his beloved Master. His apparent foolishness conceals the deepest wisdom of all, the wisdom of a God who emptied Himself to take the form . . . of a servant (Phil. 2:7).

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.

1 Corinthians 3:18-19

Although Sam is already well on the way to heroic virtue by the time he reaches Rivendell, he, like his master, needs help to cross the threshold into total commitment “to the end” (John 13:1). He and his companions need the wise guidance of male elders and mentors such as Gandalf, Aragorn, and Elrond, and the support of their male peers. However, in the Creator’s design, it is woman, by reason of her feminine genius, and above all the Woman, who has the gift of awakening the deepest forces within the person that will allow him or her to choose the heroic path. In his humility, Sam says only, “I’m getting to know some of the ways of the place,” but it’s clear that the House of Elrond has been working just as beneficently within his psyche as in Frodo’s, as evidenced by the exuberant joy that is manifested in him, and the selfless devotion he shows in remaining continually by his master’s bedside until he recovers.

If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.

Mark 9:35b

What does Sam toil and fight to defend, against the forces of chaos and destruction? What will be his reward, after all is said and done, after Sauron is destroyed and the Ringbearers have sailed away to the Undying Lands? Not palaces, treasure-hoards or princesses. The life of home and family—the Holy Family. The simple, hidden life of Nazareth.[1]

But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap. He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.

The End[2]

Every one of us believers is a hobbit. This is not some fanciful, sentimental notion among Tolkien fans, but a profoundly Biblical truth. “Israel was a sort of ancient Near Eastern nation of hobbits. This is why the report that the shire-like promised land was formerly inhabited by giants [Num. 13:33] is as much a matter of the diminutive Hebrews’ own perspective—and a hint at God’s intentions—as it is an indication of anything else. (. . .) This David-and-Goliath logic is the key to a huge number of scriptural stories” (Fr. Anthony Giambrone, o.p., “Ace in the Hole,” p. 250-251 in Magnificat [U.S. ed.], May 2020).

Like Sam and the other hobbits in the Fellowship, every one of us is called to a heroic life; for all of us, there is a specific path to heroism traced out by the grace of God. It is our responsibility to ourselves, to our families, to our community, and to the world to find that path and to walk in it. Heroes don’t fall out of the sky, they’re grown in the green fields of ordinary lands. They’re forged in the fires of suffering which every human being must face. Like Sam, a hero looks suffering in the face, looks the catastrophe of life in the face and says: I’m not backing down. I’m not turning back. I’m not giving up. You’re not going to destroy me. I will be greater than whatever you throw at me. I was made for this moment in history. There is a fire of love in me that is hot enough to consume all my weakness, doubt, and pain. There is a fire in me that is hotter than the fires of Mount Doom. That is the Secret Fire that burns at the heart of creation. I will allow that fire to lead me where my weakness would rather not go. I will be led by love beyond my fears, beyond my tears, even beyond human hope. By the grace of God, and the intercession of the Mother of God, I will prevail, and even if I should perish, He will use my death to bring an even greater victory.

That is the spirit of Sam Gamgee. May it be ours this day. 

Prayer

FAMILY CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH

Everyone kneels.

(The head of the family leads the prayer.)

All: Hail, most loving Hearts of Jesus and Mary! We venerate You. We love and honor You. We give and consecrate ourselves to You forever. Receive us and possess us entirely. Purify, enlighten and sanctify us so that we may love You, Jesus, with the Heart of Mary, and love you, Mary, with the Heart of Jesus.

O Heart of Jesus living in Mary and by Mary! O Heart of Mary living in Jesus and for Jesus! O Heart of Jesus pierced for our sins and giving us Thy Mother on Calvary! O Heart of Mary pierced by sorrow and sharing in the sufferings of your Divine Son for our redemption! O sacred union of these Two Hearts!

Praised be God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Praised be the Holy Spirit of God who united these Two Hearts together! May He unite our hearts and every heart so that all hearts may live in unity in imitation of that sacred Unity which exists in these Two Hearts.

Triumph, O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary! Reign O most Sacred Heart of Jesus! In our hearts, in our homes and our families, in Your Church, in the lives of all the faithful, in the hearts of those who as yet know You not, and in all the nations of the world. Establish in the hearts of all mankind the sovereign triumph and reign of Your Two Hearts so that the earth may resound from pole to pole with one cry: “Blessed forever be the most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary!”

O dearest St. Joseph, I entrust myself to thy honor and give myself to you that you may always be my father, my protector, and my guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me a greater purity of heart and a fervent love of the interior life. After your example, may I do all my actions for the greater glory of God in union with the Divine Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. O blessed St. Joseph, pray for me that I may share in the peace and joy of your holy death. Amen.

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • The most foolish thing of all, from the perspective of the “wisdom of this age,” is to give away one’s most valuable resources (time, talent, treasure) to those from whom we cannot reasonably expect anything in return, or even a polite acknowledgement of the gift. This is the path Our Lord and Our Lady both took. They lived the folly of extravagant love. Find an undeserving recipient of your foolish love today.
  • In a situation where you would be naturally inclined to chatter and share your views freely, imitate the silence of Sam at the Council of Elrond (and St. Joseph).

To Go Deeper

[1] The little home of Nazareth was what Our Lady instructed Lady Richeldis to reconstruct at the shrine of Walsingham. It is the perfect antithesis of Barad-dûr, that Babel-like fortress of the one who wanted to be worshipped as the God of Middle-earth: “wall upon wall, battlement upon battlement, black, immeasurably strong, mountain of iron, gate of steel, tower of adamant” (Bk2 Ch10).

[2] Watch the PJ movie version here.

The House of Elrond | Seat of Wisdom, Forge of Heroes

Our Lady of Walsingham

Meditation of the Day

Within the hidden Valley of Rivendell—situated at the midpoint between heaven and earth—lies the fair House of Elrond, described in The Hobbit and LOTR as “the Last Homely House east of the Sea.” It is so designated because of its proximity to the “edge of the Wild”: a symbolic threshold between civilized and untamed lands, between known and unknown. So both on the vertical and the horizontal axes, this is a place of decision, where heroes must either embrace their high calling or turn back, settling for a life of mediocrity. From what we have learned of Frodo’s character so far, we have every reason to expect him to make the heroic, self-sacrificial choice; but first he will need to receive healing in the physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of his being. This is granted to him directly by Elrond Half-elven, Lord of Rivendell, but also by the House itself: “Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness” (Bk2 Ch1). Both a masculine and a feminine principle come into play.

Elrond symbolises throughout the ancient wisdom, and his House represents Lore–the preservation in reverent memory of all tradition concerning the good, wise, and beautiful. It is not a scene of action but of reflection. Thus it is a place visited on the way to all deeds, or ‘adventures’. It may prove to be on the direct road (as in The Hobbit); but it may be necessary to go from there in a totally unexpected course. So necessarily in The Lord of the Rings, having escaped to Elrond from the imminent pursuit of present evil, the hero departs in a wholly new direction: to go and face it at its source.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 131 to Milton Waldman (1951)

What a lofty vocation: to preserve “in reverent memory (. . .) all tradition concerning the good, wise, and beautiful”! With the eyes of faith, we can easily recognize in this a description of the mission of the Church, the Bride of Christ, and of her prototype and supreme model, the Blessed Virgin.

Christ is the supreme Teacher, the revealer and the one revealed. It is not just a question of learning what he taught but of “learning him.” In this regard could we have any better teacher than Mary? From the divine standpoint, the Spirit is the interior teacher who leads us to the full truth of Christ. But among creatures no one knows Christ better than Mary; no one can introduce us to a profound knowledge of his mystery better than his Mother.

Pope St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae

In the heart of Elrond’s House, the Hall of Fire epitomizes the faithful preservation and living transmission of the wisdom of past ages, through poetry, song, storytelling, and silent contemplation. “Except on high days,” Gandalf explains, in a way that hints at the observance of a quasi-liturgical calendar, “it usually stands empty and quiet, and people come here who wish for peace, and thought. There is always a fire here, all the year round, but there is little other light.” It is the closest thing to a chapel in Middle-earth. The fire is lit continually because it has a symbolic, ceremonial purpose, like the lamps in the Temple of Solomon or those in our churches. It represents the Secret Fire, the Flame Imperishable that burns at the heart of Eä—or, in our own world, the Holy Spirit, Who came upon the Blessed Virgin at the Annunciation and overshadowed her, making her His Spouse.

Just as the House of Elrond cooperated with its master to heal the Ringbearer and impart to him the supernatural wisdom needed for his redemptive mission, Our Lady works efficaciously with her divine Spouse to heal all the wounds inflicted on us by sin, and to form each of us into “little Christs,” inasmuch as we invite her to do so.

Prayer

Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Seat of Wisdom,
open our hearts to receive your divine Son and make them like your heart, full of your own wise and generous love:
a love, that brings true peace to our lives and to those of many others;
a love, that creates an atmosphere of joy and security to all those with whom we live day after day;
a love, that strengthens our will when sacrifice is demanded and that urges it on to virtue, while keeping us always kind and gentle;
a love, that gives us strength to deny ourselves and to carry the spiritual burdens of others;
a love, that does not flee from sacrifice, but that can carry the daily cross with persevering trust;
a love, that is willing to serve without looking for praise or reward, and that is thus able to comfort those in trouble;
a love, that enables us to be silent about ourselves and to heal many spiritual wounds through our reparation and penance.

Mother of Divine Wisdom, hear our prayer.

Mother Julia Verhaeghe

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Sometimes children will pridefully hide their wounds and scrapes from their mother, and stubbornly insist on taking care of things themselves. How much quicker their wounds would heal if they let go of self-reliance and trusted their mother’s greater experience and skill! Today, identify some wounds in your life that you have yet to turn over fully to your Mother’s care . . . and do so.
  • Within the overall mission of the Church of Christ on earth, reflect on how you are personally chosen, called, and sent to advance the cause of “all that is good, wise, and beautiful” in this world.
  • Imaginatively place yourself on Mary’s lap, and ask her to teach you something you don’t know or understand about her Son, “the firstborn among many brethren,” who rested there first.

To Go Deeper

Model of Consecration: The Fellowship

This post and the preceding one are dedicated to Sarah de Nordwall.

Meditation of the Day

Exactly two months elapse between the Council of Elrond on October 25, where the fateful decision is taken to “send the Ring to the Fire,” and the departure of the Fellowship, on December 25 (yes, on our Christmas Day! no coincidence there, of course). The entire Quest of the Ring after this will only take an additional three months. Given the absolute urgency of the mission to destroy the One Ring, and the imminent threat of open war with the Dark Lord, ordinary wisdom would seem to advise more immediate action. Why wait so long? Certainly this is not what audiences of the typical action-adventure movie these days would expect; action heroes make elaborate plans in a matter of minutes or hours at most. But here, as with Aragorn’s recourse to an old song to prepare for the onslaught of the Ringwraiths, we touch on a central theme of the novel: real power to overcome evil does not reside in military might, or clever planning, but in the ancient wisdom embodied in song, poetry, legends, folk sayings, prophecies, dreams, and even riddles (like the Riddle of the Ring, received in a dream by Faramir and Boromir). Ultimately, this wisdom connects those who seek it and receive it humbly to the very wisdom of the Creator. In the language of Christian spirituality, we might summarize this message as the priority of contemplation over action—of which Our Lady is the prototype and supreme model (Luke 2:19).

What do we see the members of the Fellowship doing, for these two months? Arming themselves to the teeth? Practising martial arts? Learning woodcraft and the art of camouflage from Strider?

Such was the virtue of the land of Rivendell that soon all fear and anxiety was lifted from their minds. The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song. (Bk2 Ch3)

Thus the hobbits are allowing the Valley of Rivendell—which, as we have seen, so powerfully symbolizes the Blessed Virgin—to restore their spiritual equilibrium, to lead them into an experience of the “sacrament of the present moment” (cf. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence, Bk1 Ch1 Sec2). They are able simply to enjoy the goodness of everyday things, the beauty of art and the nourishment of meaningful conversation.

Even after the choice of the Nine Walkers, during the final week before their departure, we observe the members of the Fellowship prioritizing learning, reflection, storytelling, and friendship over any more immediately practical concerns:

  • “Aragorn and Gandalf walked together or sat speaking of their road and the perils they would meet; and they pondered the storied and figured maps and books of lore that were in the house of Elrond.”
  • “In those last days the hobbits sat together in the evening in the Hall of Fire, and there among many tales they heard told in full the lay of Beren and Lúthien and the winning of the Great Jewel.”
  • “Merry and Pippin were out and about.”
  • “Frodo (. . .) spent as much time as he could with Bilbo. (. . .) Frodo and Sam were to be found with Bilbo in his own small room. Then Bilbo would read passages from his book (. . .), or scraps of his verses, or would take notes of Frodo’s adventures.”

The members of the Fellowship are not all perfect, far from it. The younger hobbits are still immature and foolish; Gimli and Legolas have inherited their respective cultures’ racial bias against each other; Boromir displays an excessive and narrow-minded concern for the welfare of his homeland; and so on. But upon all of them the Valley of Rivendell bestows some tangible and lasting benefit.

Above all, the grace these Nine receive from their two-month retreat in Rivendell is the gift of one another, the formation of the Fellowship itself. It is precisely in and through the bonds of love that are established among them that each of them will have the opportunity, during their adventures, to grow in virtue and overcome their defects of character.

If we, like the Fellowship, allow Our Lady to act as freely in us as she desires to do, we too will find ourselves drawn into closer communion with (perhaps unlikely!) fellow travelers, spiritual companions who will be the means for us to make real progress along the way of sanctification. Our Lady was instrumental in the birth of the first Christian community, at Pentecost, as she prayed for her Son’s disciples to receive the same Spirit who had overshadowed her. A comparison between the promise of the Holy Spirit to Mary, at the Annunciation (Luke 1:35), and her Son’s promise of the Holy Spirit, to be fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 1:8), shows that they contain identical Greek terms. The Holy Spirit and “power” (dynamis) will “come upon” (eperchomai) both Mary—the ideal disciple—and the community of disciples gathered by the Risen Lord. Whatever was realized in and for her personally, she desires to see realized in us, who are the living members of her Son’s Body.

The parallel is striking, as is the implication. It suggests that Mary experienced a personal Pentecost before the body of Christ’s disciples experienced the ecclesial Pentecost that formed the Church. In both cases, by physical conception and missionary witness, Christ is thus brought into the world. The first is an anticipation and type of the second.

Scott Hahn et al., eds.. Catholic Bible Dictionary (p. 588), The Crown Publishing Group, Kindle Edition.

Prayer

Note: The following prayer was composed for the Tolkien Marian Consecration 2020 Facebook Group, which you may wish to consider joining.

DAILY PRAYER FOR OUR FELLOWSHIP

O Lady clad in white,
Mother of our true King,
wise and wonderful beyond compare,
fair and clear as the dawn of Arda,
rich in graces to lavish on thirsty souls,
come be the guide of those who wander but are not lost.
Allow us to find that which we desire most on this journey:
To enter the refuge of your most pure Heart,
To be shielded there from all the assaults of the Shadow,
To be cherished as your own true sons and daughters,
To be clothed in your virtues,
To become more radiant beacons in the darkness of this world,
So that more children of Ilúvatar may find their way home.
All for the glory of the Eternal Father,
Through the Blood shed by the Son,
In the power and brilliance of the Holy Spirit, the Secret Fire.
Amen.

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • The more urgent a problem appears to be, the more tempting it can be to rush in with an immediate practical solution, without any space for either deeper reflection or an invitation to the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. Genuine discernment takes time; it requires stilling our mind and being more in tune with what is happening right now, with what God might be saying or doing. Let’s ask Our Lady to teach us, today, how to let more of our doing flow out of our being-in-relationship with the living God.
  • Before facing a challenging task today, pause to offer a single decade of the holy Rosary, meditating on one of the usual mysteries or another event of the life of Jesus or Mary, asking for sufficient light to face the challenge in a way that pleases God.

To Go Deeper

The Valley of Rivendell | Place of Refuge, Hiding Place

This post and the following are dedicated to Sarah de Nordwall, a bard with a bard school.
(The best email to reach Sarah on at present is bardschool@gmail.com.)

Meditation of the Day

In The Tale of Years we learn that the refuge and stronghold of Imladris, or Rivendell in the Common Speech, was founded by the Lord Elrond Half-elven in the year 1697 of the Third Age, after the forging of the One Ring, as Sauron and his forces had overrun Eregion and were threatening all of Eriador. It is there that the remnant of the High Elves and their culture, as well as the potent symbols of the fallen kingdoms of Men (shards of Narsil, heirlooms of Arnor, Ring of Barahir), would be safely preserved for the thousands of years before the War of the Ring and the final defeat of the Dark Lord.

A valley is a naturally feminine symbol. The Valley of Imladris becomes the cradle of life and hope for the future of Middle-earth. It is there that the oral and written tradition of Elves and Men, reaching back to the Elder Days, is preserved intact for future generations. It is there that “Estel,” the future King of Arnor and Gondor, is brought up, hidden from the world. It is there also that his future bride and queen, Arwen Undómiel, is born and raised. It is there that Frodo, the Ringbearer, finds sanctuary after his narrow escape from the Nazgûl; there he is healed of his dreadful wound. It is there that the Fellowship of the Ring is formed, to assist him in fulfilling his desperate Quest. It is there that the Sword-that-was-broken is reforged as Andúril, Flame of the West,[1] “for Aragorn son of Arathorn was going to war upon the marches of Mordor.”

This Valley is, in a sense, suspended between heaven and earth. It is a place where the Divine can break into the tragic course of history and set it on a brand new course. It is a womb ripe for the overshadowing of the Secret Fire. It cooperates with God in bringing a holy seed to blossom. It is itself so holy that its waters rise up in anger when anything unholy tries to enter:

The foremost of the black horses had almost set foot upon the shore. At that moment there came a roaring and a rushing: a noise of loud waters rolling many stones. Dimly Frodo saw the river below him rise, and down along its course there came a plumed cavalry of waves. White flames seemed to Frodo to flicker on their crests, and he half fancied that he saw amid the water white riders upon white horses with frothing manes. The three Riders that were still in the midst of the Ford were overwhelmed: they disappeared, buried suddenly under angry foam. Those that were behind drew back in dismay (LOTR, Bk1 Ch12).

In every way, then, the Valley of Rivendell resembles Mary, the Immaculate Conception whom no foe has ever penetrated, the Place of Refuge for all that is good and holy, the Hiding Place of the future Redeemer and his Bride, the sanctuary of hope for the cleansing and renewing of the world. Her Heart is a place where the wounds inflicted by sin and evil can be healed. She is both a Virgin who protects innocence and a Mother who bears life for the sake of God.

Woman may be likened to the flower, which is fixed between Heaven and earth; she is like the earth in her bearing of life; she is like Heaven in her aspirations to blossom upward to the Divine. The mark of man is initiative, but the mark of woman is cooperation. Man talks about freedom; woman about sympathy, love, sacrifice. Man cooperates with nature; woman cooperates with God. Man was called to till the earth, to “rule over the earth”; woman to be the bearer of a life that comes from God. The hidden wish of every woman in history, the secret desire of every feminine heart, is fulfilled in that instant when Mary says: “Fiat”—“Be it done unto me according to thy word.”

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen, The World’s First Love, Ch. 6 “The Virgin Mother”

Alan Lee, the great artist and consummate Tolkien illustrator, confided in one of the “making of” segments of Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of LOTR that he would like to retire in Rivendell, as he helped to depict it therein. What Tolkien fan would not wholeheartedly second that sentiment? What not all Tolkien fans may realize, and therefore need us to tell them, is that Rivendell exists in the primary world. It is not a utopia, a figment of our collective imagination. This restored Eden is accessible. The path to it is hidden from unbelieving eyes, it is true, but for those who are reborn through water and the Holy Spirit, the path is always open. This is the path that we tread on our journey to consecration.

We don’t have to travel to a particular destination to find our Rivendell. “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (Rom. 10:8). When enemies pursue and threaten us, we can look them in the face as Frodo did at the Ford, and confidently declare, “I take refuge in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word and Wisdom of God.” “I take refuge in the Heart of Mary, His most pure Mother.”

Prayer

Sancta Maria, succurre miseris, iuva pusillanimes, refove flebiles, ora pro populo, interveni pro clero, intercede pro devoto femineo sexu: sentiant omnes tuum iuvamen, quicumque celebrant tuam sanctam commemorationem. Amen.

Holy Mary, succor the miserable, help the fainthearted, comfort the sorrowful, pray for thy people, plead for the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God; may all who keep thy holy commemoration feel now thy help and protection. (Partial Indulgence)

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • How has the Virgin Mother already manifested herself as a Place of Refuge, as a cradle of life and hope in your life? Be sure to find a simple, creative way to thank her today.
  • In what ways are you still in need of a place to hide, to heal, to be renewed in hope and wisdom? Simply ask our blessed Lady to be all those things for you, to shelter you in the refuge of her Immaculate Heart.
  • Are there flesh-and-blood people in your life who have been a Rivendell to you, a “safe place”? Take time today to thank God for them, and if possible, thank them.

To Go Deeper

  • Ven. Fulton J. Sheen, The World’s First Love, Ch. 6 “The Virgin Mother” (ebook available on formed.org). This is one of the most beautiful commentaries on the Annunciation that I have ever read.

[1] Consider how the device traced upon the Andúril’s blade (“seven stars set between the crescent Moon and the rayed Sun”) connects with the promise of God about the Davidic dynasty in Psalm 89: “Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me; It shall be established forever like the moon, Even like the faithful witness in the sky.” See also Psalm 72:5.

Model of Consecration: Frodo (III)

Meditation of the Day

Just like the Suffering Servant, our Redeemer, Frodo will come to bear multiple wounds in his body: from the Witch-king’s sorcerous dagger, Shelob’s venomous sting, and Gollum’s fateful bite. Deep inside this first wound, the tip of the blade is slowly working its way inward toward Frodo’s heart, aiming to subjugate him to the will of the Nazgûl and turn him into a lesser wraith, in their thrall. But Aragorn reassures the grief-stricken Sam: “Your Frodo is made of sterner stuff than I had guessed (…). He is not slain, and I think he will resist the evil power of the wound longer than his enemies expect” (Bk1 Ch12). Being consistently overlooked or underestimated by evil is one of the great advantages of the hobbits. It is precisely what will allow Merry to assist Éowyn in destroying the Witch-king, on the battlefield of the Pelennor. It is also what will allow Frodo and Sam to escape detection, to succeed where even the champions of other races would have failed. Elrond will declare at the Council: “This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere” (Bk2 Ch2). Here we touch one of the most fundamental themes in all of Tolkien’s writings, already illustrated in the tale of Beren and Lúthien, as we saw earlier.

Besides his lowliness, weakness, and apparent lack of wisdom, what allows Frodo to resist not only the enslaving effects of the Morgul-knife but of the Ring itself for so long is his heroic goodness of will. This quality is epitomized in his willingness to make the self-sacrificing choice to take it to the Fire, even though he does not know the way, and has no rational hope of overcoming the obstacles he will have to face. In Christian terms, we would see this as the very essence of holiness: to submit one’s human will to the divine Will, regardless of the cost or the probability of success. “Sanctity, then, consists in willing all that God wills for us. Yes! sanctity of heart is a simple ‘fiat,’ a conformity of will with the will of God” (Jean-Pierre de Caussade S.J., Abandonment to Divine Providence). When Frodo makes that declaration, the narrator informs us, “At last with an effort he spoke, and wondered to hear his own words, as if some other will was using his small voice.” Indeed it was. The saint becomes a pure vessel, an instrument for God to realize His purposes in the world. The greater the surrender of self, the more perfectly God will be able to make use of us.

Frodo undertook his quest out of love – to save the world he knew from disaster at his own expense, if he could; and also in complete humility, acknowledging that he was wholly inadequate to the task. His real contract was only to do what he could, to try to find a way, and to go as far on the road as his strength of mind and body allowed. He did that.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 246 to Mrs Eileen Elgar (Nov. 1963).

The Blessed Virgin is the greatest teacher of this complete abandonment to the will of God: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). When she tells the servants at Cana, “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5), she is in effect telling them, “Be like me.” Receiving and obeying the word of God is the sum total of her existence. She does not live for herself, but for Him (see Rom. 14:8). And it is this disposition that she most desires to reproduce in those who consecrate themselves to her.

Prayer

Memorare, O piissima Virgo Maria, non esse auditum a saeculo, quemquam ad tua currentem praesidia, tua implorantem auxilia, tua petentem suffragia, esse derelictum. Ego tali animatus confidentia, ad te, Virgo Virginum, Mater, curro, ad te venio, coram te gemens peccator assisto. Noli, Mater Verbi, verba mea despicere; sed audi propitia et exaudi. Amen.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

(Partial Indulgence)

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Make a firm resolution to “do whatever He tells you.” You might phrase it as “Lord, I resolve…”, “I commit…”, or “I promise…” or simply borrow Mary’s words at the Annunciation.
  • Then tell Him how you are going to serve Him. For example:
    • without hesitation
    • without delay
    • without second guessing
    • without looking back
    • without concern about outcomes (like Frodo)
    • with gladness and joy
    • with complete confidence in His power
    • with forgetfulness of self
    • with docility to His Spirit
    • with burning zeal for His honour and glory

To Go Deeper

  • Don Dolindo Ruotolo, A Month with Mary
  • For those who may feel it is inappropriate to refer to Frodo as a “saint,” since in the ultimate test he failed to destroy the Ring by his own power, I would invite you to read the entirety of Tolkien’s Letter 246, cited above.

Elbereth | Woman at Enmity with the Serpent

Meditation of the Day

During the attack on Weathertop, the Witch-king singles out Frodo, who has put on the Ring under the compulsion of the Ringwraiths’ evil will and the Ring’s own malice. At this terrible foe’s approach, Frodo throws himself on the ground, slashes at his enemy’s feet with his sword, and “[hears] himself crying aloud: O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!” The Witch-king lets out a cry, then stabs Frodo in the shoulder with a cursed blade, a Morgul-knife (morgul means sorcery; Minas Morgul is the Tower of Sorcery where the Nazgûl reside). Frodo passes out, as Aragorn leaps forward to defend him.

In the aftermath of the battle, Aragorn inspects the scene and retrieves a slashed black cloak. He deduces that this was the only damage done to the Lord of the Nazgûl, because if Frodo’s blade had actually made contact, it would have been destroyed. But, he says, “More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth.” At his most vulnerable moment, Frodo was inspired by the Secret Fire within to utter an urgent invocation of the name of his heavenly Queen—and as a combined effect of Frodo’s simple prayer and Aragorn’s authority, their otherwise invulnerable opponent was driven off. This is not Magic, that is, the manipulation of superior forces by an inferior being through the use of secret arts or technique: Frodo can efficaciously invoke the heavenly Lady’s aid only because he is “of the seed of the woman” (Rev. 12:17, echoing the exact wording of Gen. 3:15). He is an Elf-friend, or in Christian terms, a believer who belongs to the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16).

The following is Tolkien’s own definition of Magic: 

By [Magic] I intend all use of external plans or devices (apparatus) instead of developments of the inherent inner powers or talents – or even the use of these talents with the corrupted motive of dominating: bulldozing the real world, or coercing other wills.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 131 to Milton Waldman (1951)

Magic, in this sense, is what Sauron and his servants employ, because their aim is domination over other beings. The invocation of the name of Elbereth (or Mary), by contrast, is an appeal made to a higher power on the basis of a loving relationship, and for the sake of love. It is about upholding the true nature of things, restoring the proper order in creation, ensuring that the Creator’s purposes are not thwarted by evil. Likewise, when followers of her Son call on her name in their hour of need, our Blessed Mother recognizes the voice of her own children, and lovingly comes to their defence, every time. She interposes herself between us and whatever evil is threatening us. “Begone! This one is mine,” she declares, and the serpent’s head is crushed, time and time again.

In the Hail Mary, one of the most basic of all Catholic prayers, we invoke the holy name of Mary twice, and in between, we invoke the Name above all names, the Most Holy Name of Jesus, the one before whom every knee shall bow, “of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (Phil. 2:10), the Name that makes the infernal legions tremble. Thus in this prayer Mary’s name enfolds that of her exalted Son, just as she once enfolded His tiny body within her womb. She is the perfect shrine for Him. “God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; / God shall help her, just at the break of dawn” (Ps. 46:5).

Prayer

Ave María, grátia plena, Dóminus tecum. Benedícta tu in muliéribus, et benedíctus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta María, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatóribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Aia María (Tolkien’s translation into Quenya)

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Formal prayers and set times for prayer are both necessary for anyone who is serious about growing closer to God. But genuine love for God, and for our blessed Lady, is never content with fulfilling duties and meeting expectations; it wants to soar ever higher. The more we can weave prayer—in this case, the loving invocation of the name of our Mother—into the very fabric of our lives, the better. Today, let’s begin or grow in our practice of calling upon her often, throughout the day, in favorable and unfavorable circumstances. We can be sure she will respond to our efforts, even if they are feeble.
  • Let’s ask for the grace of a greater confidence in the power of Mary’s name to drive back the powers of darkness, just as effectively as the name of Elbereth inflicted pain on the Witch-king.

To Go Deeper

  • Learn about the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary (September 12). Take special note of the fact that this feast was instituted for the universal Church in recognition of the defeat of the Turks on Sept. 12, 1683, by Jan Sobieski, which was attributed to Mary’s intercession.
  • Mary, Terror of Demons

Model of Consecration: Aragorn

Meditation of the Day

The most powerful undead beings in Middle-earth are about to attack Aragorn and his companions in the wilderness, at night when their power is at its peak. “Long ago they fell under the dominion of the One,” Gandalf once told Frodo, “and they became Ringwraiths, shadows under his great Shadow, his most terrible servants.” Yet Aragorn sits by the fire, smoking his pipe, and sings of fair Elfmaidens from the age of legends! Why is he not fleeing in terror and madness, as so many have already done since the Nine have arisen again to hunt for the One Ring? He cannot be oblivious to the danger. When he first spelled out for the hobbits who the Riders were, back in Bree, “his face was drawn as if with pain, and his hands clenched the arms of his chair.” He said, “You fear them, but you do not fear them enough, yet” (Bk1 Ch10). Is he perhaps, then, utterly confident that his own martial prowess and strength of mind will allow him to single-handedly drive off these formidable assailants? That is implausible too. He bears no weapon but a broken sword, Narsil. During the attack, Frodo will glimpse him springing forward “with a flaming brand of wood in either hand.” Is a single man armed with two torches enough to defeat five fully armed Nazgûl—including their chief, the Witch-king of Angmar, who has laid entire kingdoms to waste—by the use of force alone? Are these masters of sorcery so vulnerable to ordinary fire? Hardly.

We are meant to understand that the source of Aragorn’s power against evil resides in his identity, in his holiness, in his fidelity to the example of self-emptying love and humility handed down from the very ancestors, especially Lúthien, that he has just been singing about. There are visible signs that he is connecting with a much higher source of power than his own strength, as he becomes a vehicle for the oral tradition of Elves and Men: “As Strider was speaking they watched his strange eager face, dimly lit in the red glow of the wood-fire. His eyes shone, and his voice was rich and deep. Above him was a black starry sky.” In Christian terms, we would say that Aragorn is filled with the Holy Spirit. In Middle-earth terms, the Secret Fire dwells in him, and is kindled into flame by the ancient poetry passed down the ages. He is a true son of Lúthien, which is why he can act with authority against the servants of Sauron.

Through consecration, we aim to become true sons and daughters of Mary, to be so conformed to her and united with her that we, too, will be able to withstand all the wickedness and spite of the Enemy of our souls. We need not tremble before him. “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed” (Rev. 5:5), and He has given us “authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19). Even if to worldly eyes we appear defenceless and feeble, we are clothed in God’s armour. The Immaculate Heart will be our breastplate.

Prayer

1 Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing;
You reign now in splendor with Jesus, our King.

Refrain:
Ave, ave, ave, María!
Ave, ave, María!

2 In heaven the blessed your glory proclaim;
On earth we, your children, invoke your sweet name. [Refrain]

3 Your name is our power, your virtues our light;
Your love is our comfort, your prayers our might. [Refrain]

4 We pray for the Church, our true mother on earth;
And beg you to watch o’er the land of our birth. [Refrain]

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • When darkness threatens, singing sweetly to our fair Lady, like Aragorn did at Weathertop, is one of the best practices we can employ. If we truly abide within Mary’s Immaculate Heart, we can drive off the unholy one with torches, candles, flowers, or children’s toys. We have learned not to rely on our own strength, and we know how great hers is, so what is there to fear?
  • Like the songs that Aragorn learned in his youth in Rivendell, the musical heritage of both East and West is replete with hymns that exalt the Mother of God. We can find one that is unfamiliar to us, learn it, and resolve to make use of it the next time we are troubled or anxious. (For Western Christians, I would recommend the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos from the Byzantine tradition.)

To Go Deeper

Lúthien Tinúviel | Lover of Mortal Man

Meditation of the Day

Led by Aragorn, whom Gandalf once described to Frodo as “the greatest traveller and huntsman of this age of the world,” the hobbits have so far evaded the pursuing Black Riders; but as they linger on the summit of Weathertop, the enemy perceives them and they must brace themselves for the onslaught during the night hours. As they huddle nervously around their campfire, Aragorn does his best to “lift up [their] hearts” by chanting a song from the Elder Days, the Tale of Tinúviel. He warns them that it is a fair but sad tale. What is it about his distant ancestor, Lúthien the Nightingale (Tinúviel) that makes her story so inspiring at this perilous moment? At least two features of the story (told more fully in The Silmarillion) come to mind.

The first is the theme of a love that overcomes death itself (see Song of Songs 8:6). Lúthien, an Elfmaiden, and her human lover Beren were renowned for the extreme heroism and daring they showed in infiltrating the realm of Morgoth, the Great Enemy, “of whom Sauron of Mordor was but a servant,” to wrest one of the Silmarils (greatest of jewels) from his crown. They cast him down from his throne. Afterward Lúthien rescued Beren from the dungeons of Sauron. Yet what so enkindles Aragorn’s heart is not her virtue of courage so much as the matchless love that fuelled it: love for a mortal man, like himself. Love that proved stronger than death, because when Beren was slain, Lúthien chose mortality so that she could follow him “beyond the confines of this world.” This is the only kind of love that, in the end, can defeat evil, and redeem the world.

When Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

John 13:1

This holy love is the inheritance that Lúthien passed on to her children, in all their generations. We know it is such love that animates Aragorn, for he already declared to the hobbits in Bree: “I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will” (Bk1 Ch10). We will learn that this love-unto-death also lives in the heart of his beloved, Arwen daughter of Elrond (also descended from Lúthien, through a different line). It is this holy love that every true warrior of light must possess; and Aragorn, the Servant-King, knows how to enkindle it in the hearts of his followers. When Frodo will stand up to the Nazgûl at the Ford of Bruinen, we will hear him call on the names of both Elbereth and Lúthien: “‘By Elbereth and Lúthien the Fair,’ said Frodo with a last effort, lifting up his sword, ‘you shall have neither the Ring nor me!’” (Bk1 Ch12).

The second feature of the Tale of Tinúviel that makes it especially encouraging to weak Hobbits about to face vastly superior and unspeakably evil foes is that her tale reveals the secret wisdom, hidden in creation, unknown to all but the Creator, according to which it is not the wise and powerful who will achieve definitive victory over evil, but the foolish and the weak:

“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are.”

1 Cor. 1:27-28

Here is Tolkien’s own explanation of how this theme is exemplified in the story of Beren and Lúthien:

Here we meet, among other things, the first example of the motive (to become dominant in Hobbits) that the great policies of world history, ‘the wheels of the world’, are often turned not by the Lords and Governors, even gods, but by the seemingly unknown and weak – owing to the secret life in creation, and the part unknowable to all wisdom but One, that resides in the intrusions of the Children of God into the Drama. It is Beren the outlawed mortal who succeeds (with the help of Lúthien, a mere maiden even if an elf of royalty) where all the armies and warriors have failed: he penetrates the stronghold of the Enemy and wrests one of the Silmarilli from the Iron Crown. Thus he wins the hand of Lúthien and the first marriage of mortal and immortal is achieved.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 131 to Milton Waldman (1951)

The Blessed Virgin is the creature who most perfectly embodies both love-unto-death and the lowliness that is necessary to overcome evil, in our fallen world. It is she, the “Woman” (John 19:26; 2:4), who stands with her Son at the Cross, when virtually all His disciples have fled; and it is she who waits in silent hope for the dawn of the Resurrection, when all others are lost to grief and despair. What better Advocate can we poor mortals find, when we are burdened with unbearable trials and distress?

“By her maternal charity, Mary cares for the brethren of her Son who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led to their happy fatherland. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix.”

Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church Lumen gentium, no. 62

Mary of Nazareth, our Lúthien, is the lowly maiden chosen out of all the women in history to bear the world’s salvation. Her soul magnifies the God who “puts down the mighty from their thrones and lifts up the lowly” (Luke 1:52). To imitate her lowliness is to be assured of victory, no matter what foes are arrayed against us.

Prayer

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen.

We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.  (Partial Indulgence)

Ortírielyanna (Tolkien’s Translation into Quenya)

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Both Mary’s maternal love for her children and her humility are clearly manifested in the way she addresses the visionaries to whom she has appeared down through the centuries. What tender sensitivity and gentleness she shows to them! For example, read her affectionate words to St. Juan Diego or her courteous request to St. Bernadette in the third apparition. (The visionaries Our Lady has chosen are such luminous icons of her, aren’t they?)
  • What would a mother not do to rescue her child from danger? What would Mary not do to rescue you? What has she already done in your life, through her unceasing intercession? Be sure to thank her.

To Go Deeper