Galadriel | Contemplative Warrior, Queen of Prophets, Mirror of Justice

Meditation of the Day

Galadriel is unique among the rulers of Middle-earth. Her subjects do not reject the use of force, and during the War of the Ring they will need to repel direct military assault from the forces of Sauron; but unlike the Men of Gondor, for example, the people of Lórien do not rely primarily on military strategy to hold the Shadow at bay. Rather, like Melian the Maia (Lúthien’s mother) in the First Age, their Lady maintains her kingdom through a girdle of magic and concealment, and by what we might call the intrinsic power of her own holiness. “Three times Lórien had been assailed from Dol Guldur, but besides the valour of the elven people of that land, the power that dwelt there was too great for any to overcome, unless Sauron had come there himself” (Appendix B).

Hers, then, is fundamentally a spiritual combat against the Enemy. Like Our Blessed Lady, who “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:13), the Lady of Lórien is a contemplative warrior.[1] She reveals this fundamental stance in her first address to the Fellowship: “Not in doing or contriving, nor in choosing between this course and another, can I avail; but only in knowing what was and is, and in part also what shall be” (Bk2 Ch7). This latter phrase resonates with the Johannine writings of the New Testament (the seer of Revelation beholds the God “who is and who was, and who is to come,” Rev. 1:4,8), as do also her comforting words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (a direct quotation of the twice-repeated appeal in Christ’s farewell discourse: John 14:1,27).

Galadriel’s mirror (see Wis. 7:26; 1 Cor. 13:12) is a symbol of her contemplative approach to the struggle against cosmic evil. As she explains to Frodo and Sam, the mirror “shows things that were, and things that are, and things that yet may be” (Bk2 Ch7). It is by engaging profoundly with Being, with the Real and True, that she advances the cause of the Light against the Shadow. In accordance with the principle solemnly declared at the outset of John’s Gospel, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (1:5), the Dark Lord has not been able to comprehend her mind: “I say to you, Frodo, that even as I speak to you, I perceive the Dark Lord and know his mind, or all of his mind that concerns the Elves. And he gropes ever to see me and my thought. But still the door is closed!’” (Bk2 Ch7). This puts her in marked contrast to two male leaders of the time, Saruman and Denethor, who despite their immense mental powers and strength of will were indeed “comprehended,” and deceived, by Sauron when they used their palantíri. It is not because Galadriel is more intelligent that her mind remains immune to Satanic infiltration, but because she is pure of heart. She is obedient to Being as it comes from the hands of the Creator. She seeks to attune herself to reality-truth as it is, rather than bending reality-truth to her own will. In particular, she does not seek to dominate—or even unduly influence—the free choices of other persons; hence her principled refusal to give any counsel to Frodo or any other member of the Fellowship.

The Virgin Mother of God, as we entrust ourselves to her, will teach us the true means of overcoming evil, both in ourselves and in the world. Yes, energetic, virtuous, and even heroic action is required. Frodo has to physically bring the Ring to Mount Doom. Aragorn has to use his sword to defeat flesh-and-blood enemies in battle. But the most essential activity for any of us is to simply abide in God, to be-in-relationship with Him, to learn His character, to attend to Him and to what He desires to receive from us. It is what Jesus calls the “one thing necessary,” the inner activity that is meant to animate all outer activity. Mary’s Heart is the best mirror we can find, in which to gaze by faith upon the true Light of the world.


St. Teresa of Calcutta’s “Flying Novena” (nine Memorares in a row, followed by a tenth in thanksgiving).

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Spend 10 minutes (or longer) just being with Mary, that is, paying loving attention to her without any concern about results or effects.
  • Instead of offering “quick-fix” solutions to others who share their difficulties with us, we can invite them to ponder, like Mary, what God has done, is doing, and might do if they trust in Him.

To Go Deeper

[1] To modern ears, “contemplative warrior” sounds like an oxymoron. As we all perceive but may find ourselves powerless to rectify, either in our own hearts or in the culture around us, the age we are living in exalts having and doing over being. If true contemplation is valued at all, it is not for its own sake, but at most as a means to some ulterior end, as a technique for achieving some tangible effect in oneself, such as serenity, stress reduction, or mental focus. We have only to think about the reactions that worldly people have to those few among us who embrace a purely contemplative vocation: their withdrawal from the frenetic having and doing of modern society is seen as “useless.” Yet if the ultimate destiny of the human person is to “see God as He is” (1 John 3:2), and eternal life consists in knowing Him, “the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom [He has] sent” (John 17:3), then what practice could be more necessary or urgent than to gaze upon Him in the mirror of faith?


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