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.
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
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.
FAMILY CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH
(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.
- 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
- Catherine De Hueck Doherty, Urodivoi: Holy Fools. This work is a prophetic clarion call to our culture, that sounds as fresh today as when it was first published.
- Jordan Peterson, “Don’t Waste Your Life“
- St. Francis of Assisi’s description of “Perfect Joy“