Meditation of the Day
Significantly, it is the lowly servant Sam who is graced with a vision, which brings the Phial of Galadriel to mind at precisely the moment when he and his master are about to fight for their lives against the monster Shelob, “She that walked in the darkness” (Bk4 Ch9), the offspring of Ungoliant the devourer of the Lights of Valinor.
Far off, as in a little picture drawn by elven-fingers, [Sam] saw the Lady Galadriel standing on the grass in Lórien, and gifts were in her hands. And you, Ring-bearer, he heard her say, remote but clear, for you I have prepared this. (. . .) ‘Master, master!’ cried Sam, and life and urgency came back into his voice. ‘The Lady’s gift! The star-glass! A light to you in dark places, she said it was to be. The star-glass!’
What a potent symbol of the hope that the love of our Blessed Lady can bring us, when we are seemingly enveloped in deepest darkness, with no way out, stuck in the webs of the Anti-Mary. Truly, Mary’s brilliant light can make the difference for us between life and death. Filled with wonder at the gift he holds in his hand, Frodo cries out in a tongue not his own, “Hail Eärendil brightest of stars!” But at this moment he is more than a passive recipient of supernatural inspiration. Virtuously, Frodo invokes the name of Galadriel—as both a prayer and a battle cry—, summons his own courage, draws his sword, and advances against the menace. Only then does Shelob’s certainty of victory break, and she retreats. Two small hobbits from the Shire, standing in the name of their Lady and bearing her light, overcome impossible odds without striking a single blow.
Without question, there are situations in every Christian’s life that can make one want to give up. The saints seem to have faced more than their fair share of such situations; nevertheless, they are the ones who didn’t give up. Innumerable examples abound from their lives of how Mary was that “light when all other lights go out.” What would happen in our lives if, instead of curling up into a ball and awaiting defeat, we took that light in our hands and began to call on her name?
Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, which thou hast defied. (1 Samuel 17:45)
Gimli’s heart is already pure before his encounter with Galadriel; but his deepening devotion to his Lady allows him to rise to even greater nobility of character. Having accepted and fully responded to her offer of reconciliation, and renounced his cultural prejudice against Elves, he will be able to achieve an unprecedented openness and universality of outlook. The Lock-bearer will be in no danger of falling prey to the vice of avarice that beset Durin’s Folk through the ages (bringing them under the influence of Sauron by means of the Seven Rings), and even blemished the greatness of Gimli’s closest royal kinsmen (Thrór, Thráin, and Thorin Oakenshield). After the War, he will lead a massive “Marshall Plan”-style effort of rebuilding in Gondor and Rohan. “For Minas Tirith they forged gates of mithril and steel to replace those broken by the Witch-king” (Appendix A, end). Considering Gandalf’s earlier comment that Bilbo’s mithril mail shirt was worth more than the Shire and everything in it, the cost of these rebuilt gates would have been astronomical, yet we can imagine it was gladly borne by the Dwarves under Gimli’s leadership. In any case the harmony that prevails among Dwarves, Elves and Men during the reign of King Elessar is a splendid representation of the unity for which Christ prayed in his high-priestly prayer: “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21). All this goodness was able to unfold because of an Elven-queen’s singular act of merciful love, and a Dwarf-prince’s open-hearted response.
Grant that I may praise you, holy Virgin;
give me power against your enemies.
My Mother, in whom I trust!
O Virgin Mary Mother of God,
plead with Jesus for me.
Most noble Queen of the world,
Mary ever Virgin,
who bore Christ the Lord and Savior of all,
intercede for our peace and salvation.
Mary, Mother of grace,
Mother of mercy,
protect us from the enemy,
and receive us at the hour of our death.
Most loving Virgin Mary,
hasten to my aid in all trials,
in my troubles and in my needs,
and beg for me from your beloved Son
deliverance from every evil
and from all danger to soul and body.
(excerpted from Prayers against the Powers of Darkness)
- The next time we are confronted by an obvious work of darkness, let us confidently invoke the holy Name of Mary, either by itself or alongside the Name of her Son.
- Let’s keep inviting our Queen and Mother to break down every barrier that sin and hatred have erected between us and other children of God.
To Go Deeper
- John Carswell, “6 Spiritual Insights from Tolkien that Will Change Your Life” (The Tolkien Road Podcast)