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.
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.
- 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.