Model of Consecration: Sam (II)

Meditation of the Day

Rescuing Frodo from the Tower of Cirith Ungol and its baleful, vulture-headed stone Watchers, Sam twice makes use of the Phial of Galadriel, and we notice again how its power corresponds to the virtue of the bearer:

Sam drew out the elven-glass of Galadriel again. As if to do honour to his hardihood, and to grace with splendour his faithful brown hobbit-hand that had done such deeds, the phial blazed forth suddenly, so that all the shadowy court was lit with a dazzling radiance like lightning; but it remained steady and did not pass. (Bk6 Ch1)

Frodo and Sam then invoke the name of Elbereth in a quasi-liturgical manner, with a versicle and response in Quenya (“Elven-Latin”), and “the will of the Watchers was broken with a suddenness like the snapping of a cord.” Just as had happened in their defeat of the previously unvanquished Shelob, the two feeble hobbits triumph over hopelessly superior evil forces by relying on their heavenly Lady, their earthly Lady, and the Lady (or Ladies’) Gift.

Sam’s Marian spirit is also manifested in the inspired song (cf. Eph. 5:19) that he sings alone in the tower, “moved by what thought in his heart he could not tell.” It is a song of hope that refuses to be conquered, even when objectively all seems lost. Sam proclaims that “above all shadows rides the Sun / and Stars for ever dwell: I will not say the Day is done, nor bid the Stars farewell” (Bk6 Ch1). In Christian terms, we would say that in these and similar instances, Our Lady is intervening to sustain her child’s flagging spirit—the very kind of fruit that results from cultivating a genuine relationship with her. We also learn from the example of Sam and Frodo that Mary does expect her children to do what lies in their power, to exert whatever effort of will (great or small) they can put forward, with the help of grace.

Prayer

Flos Carmeli, vitis florigera,
Splendor cæli, virgo puerpera, singularis.
Mater mitis sed viri nescia
Carmelitis esto propitia, stella maris.
Radix Iesse germinans flosculum
Hic adesse me tibi servulum patiaris.
Inter spinas quæ crescis lilium
Serva puras mentes fragilium tutelaris.
Armatura fortis pugnantium
Furunt bella tende præsidium scapularis.
Per incerta prudens consilium
Per adversa iuge solatium largiaris.
Mater dulcis Carmeli domina,
plebem tuam reple lætitia qua bearis.
Paradisi clavis et ianua,
Fac nos duci quo, Mater, gloria coronaris.
Flower of Carmel, tall vine blossom laden;
Splendor of heaven, childbearing yet maiden.
None equals thee.
Mother so tender, who no man didst know,
On Carmel’s children Thy favours bestow. Star of the Sea.
Strong stem of Jesse, who bore one bright flower,
Be ever near us and guard us each hour, who serve thee here.
Purest of lilies, that flowers among thorns,
Bring help to the true heart that in weakness turns and trusts in thee.
Strongest of armour, we trust in thy might:
Under thy mantle, hard press’d in the fight, we call to thee.
Our way uncertain, surrounded by foes,
Unfailing counsel you give to those who turn to thee.
O gentle Mother who in Carmel reigns,
Share with your servants that gladness you gained and now enjoy.
Hail, Gate of Heaven, with glory now crowned,
Bring us to safety where thy Son is found, true joy to see. Amen. 

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Are there areas of my life where I have allowed myself to be cowed into submission by implacable and seemingly invincible foes? What would happen if I renewed my confidence in Mary’s power to do what I cannot, to bring me where I could never go on my own?
  • Consider the simplicity of the means that Frodo and Sam employ: a brief invocation, a couple of stanzas of a song. Have I perhaps made devotion to Mary more complicated in my mind than it needs to be? . . .

To Go Deeper

Elbereth | Morning Star

Meditation of the Day

Just as Frodo was filled with renewed courage by wielding the Phial and calling on the name of Galadriel, his faithful servant Sam, by doing the same, is able to shake off the terror of Shelob and the certainty of death, while defending his fallen master. He, too, yields to the gift of inspired speech, and cries out in the words of the Elven-hymn to Elbereth. In an instant his battle-fury is rekindled. It would not be an exaggeration to understand the Star-glass and Galadriel’s name as sacramentals (see CCC 1667), which impart grace according to the disposition of the person who makes use of them:

As if his indomitable spirit had set its potency in motion, the glass blazed suddenly like a white torch in his hand. It flamed like a star that leaping from the firmament sears the dark air with intolerable light. No such terror out of heaven had ever burned in Shelob’s face before. The beams of it entered into her wounded head and scored it with unbearable pain, and the dreadful infection of light spread from eye to eye. (Bk4 Ch10)

Phial-Galadriel-Elbereth: this sacramental chain of representation, from the most tangible and earthly to the most incorporeal and celestial, brings supernatural power to bear at exactly the moment needed to bring about the defeat of evil. Divine wrath has been meted out—a foretaste of the final judgement. By his act of reverential faith, Sam the lowly gardener is suddenly transformed into a holy warrior, made capable of performing impossible deeds of valour. Without this Marian intervention, both he and Frodo would have perished and their Quest would have ended in utter disaster. But they are both “of the seed of the woman” (see Rev. 12:17), through whom she defeats the ancient serpent again and again. She will do the same through us.

Prayer

Ave maris stella,
Dei Mater alma,
Atque semper Virgo,
Felix cœli porta.

Sumens illud Ave
Gabrielis ore,
Funda nos in pace,
Mutans Evæ nomen.

Solve vincla reis,
Profer lumen cæcis,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce.

Monstra te esse matrem,
Sumat per te preces,
Qui pro nobis natus,
Tulit esse tuus.

Virgo singularis,
Inter omnes mitis,
Nos culpis solutos,
Mites fac et castos.

Vitam præsta puram,
Iter para tutum,
Ut videntes Jesum
Semper collætemur.

Sit laus Deo Patri,
Summo Christo decus,
Spiritui Sancto,
Tribus honor unus. Amen.
Hail, star of the sea,
bountiful mother of God
and ever Virgin,
happy gate of heaven.

Taking that Ave
from the mouth of Gabriel,
preserve us in peace,
giving Eve a new name.

Loose the chains of the bound,
bring light to the blind,
drive out our ills,
invoke all things good.

Show thyself to be a mother,
may he who was born for us
receive our prayers
through thee.

Singular virgin,
more gentle than all,
absolve us from sin and
make us gentle and pure.

Grant us a pure life,
prepare a safe way,
that in seeing Jesus
we may rejoice for ever.

Praise be to God the Father,
glory to Christ on high,
and with the Holy Spirit
honour to the three in one. Amen.

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Learn more about the three most prominent Marian sacramentals: the Holy Rosary, the Brown Scapular, the Miraculous Medal.

To Go Deeper

Models of Consecration: Frodo, Sam, Gimli

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.

Prayers

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)

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • 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

Galadriel | Queen (Grand)mother, Help of Christians

Meditation of the Day

In the Germanic Heroic Age, which provided one of the major streams of influence upon Tolkien’s legendarium, the regal virtue par excellence was generosity. A great king or queen must be a great gift-giver. Galadriel shows herself to be a true queen by the high cost and custom design of the parting gifts she bestows on the eight remaining members of the Fellowship (jewelled sheath, belts of gold and silver, longbow). She also reveals her motherly heart in the kindness and simplicity of the gift to Sam the gardener. Her prophetic spirit is on display in the explanation she gives about the gifts’ future usefulness.

Much like Christ, who purposely refuses the Canaanite woman’s prayer in order to shine a spotlight on the quality of her humble faith (Matt. 15:21-28), Galadriel has chosen not to prepare a gift for Gimli, in order to showcase the purity of his character and overturn any remaining racial stereotypes about the avarice of Dwarves. He declares that it is enough for him to have seen her, and heard her words; he values her person above any object she might have chosen to bestow. So when she presses him to name something, he begs for a strand of her hair—again confirming that it is the personal connection with her that he treasures above all else. She not only responds with magnanimity to his bold request, but adds to the gift a prophecy about the abundant wealth he will enjoy, precisely because he is free of covetousness: “Your hands shall flow with gold, and yet over you gold shall have no dominion” (see Mark 10:30).

The Queen’s gift to Frodo is both a practical help for his coming journey into dark places and a way of honouring his choice to look in her Mirror. The phial is essentially a portable version of the Mirror, a tangible reminder that no darkness can extinguish the Light of the world, symbolized by Eärendil’s star (the evening star, Venus). This star-glass is not a weapon, but without it, even the best weapons would have proven useless in the fight against Shelob. Besides the limited foresight she acknowledges herself to possess, Galadriel’s prophetic spirit allows her to be an instrument in the hands of the Higher Power that is directing the course of events to assure final victory over evil.

Like Galadriel, Mary the Mother of God is a great Queen and gift-giver. In fact, she is recognized in Catholic doctrine and piety as the Mediatrix of all graces, the one through whom God the Blessed Trinity desires to dispense all His gifts, merited for us by her Son, to the human race. Her hands flow with lavish gifts, perfectly proportioned to our individual needs, talents, vocation, and desires. We honour her by expecting to receive rich and noble gifts from her; we grieve her heart by expecting little.

Prayer

Salve regina, mater misericordiae, vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve. Ad te clamamus exules filii Hevae; ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes in hac lacrymarum valle. Eja ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte; et Jesum benedictum fructum ventris tui nobis post hoc exilium ostende, O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

V. Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata.
R. Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos.
V. Benedictus Deus in sanctis suis.
R. Amen.
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope, all hail! To thee we cry, poor banished sons of Eve; to thee we send up our sighs, weeping and mourning in this vale of tears. Turn, then most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O merciful, O kind, O sweet Virgin Mary.

V. Make me worthy to praise Thee, Holy Virgin.
R. Give me strength against thine enemies.
V. Blessed be God in His saints.
R. Amen.

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Let’s express trust in the gifts we have already received from our Queen Mother: that they will be exactly proportioned to our needs and desires.
  • Let us make requests to our Mother of Mercy that are bold and pure, like Gimli’s. Let us show her that we value our bond with her above all the gold of the earth.

To Go Deeper

Model of Consecration: Frodo (V)

Meditation of the Day

Frodo’s free decision to accept the Lady Galadriel’s invitation to look in her Mirror is a choice to adopt a contemplative stance, like hers. For him it functions as a rite of passage into the prophetic realm. Although he may have initially preferred to be given more straightforward advice about what he should do, he trusts in her deeper wisdom, and joins her in gazing upon “things that were, things that are, and things that yet may be.” His contemplation is not immediately gratifying, since he has only partial awareness of the meaning of the images that are revealed to him. Among other prophetic visions, he is shown Gandalf, whom he dearly loves and has been elegizing, but with no way of knowing for certain that it is he. Then the visions shift from the hopeful-yet-ambiguous to the horrific, as he beholds the Eye of Sauron and knows that it is searching high and low for him. Galadriel’s response suggests that whatever Frodo may think of his own wisdom, his experience with the Mirror reveals that he belongs to the most elevated circle—those who can be trusted with knowledge of the highest secrets. “Your sight is grown keener,” she tells him. “You have perceived my thought more clearly than many that are accounted wise.” Moreover, he is able to see her ring, Nenya, which Sam cannot.

Those who are unfamiliar with the true nature of prayer may imagine that it is a pleasant, restful respite from the demands of life in this world, a form of daydreaming or escapism. In actuality, prayer is a dangerous voyage into the heart of reality, which includes the cosmic conflict between light and darkness, order and chaos, good and evil.[1] Like Frodo, those who dare to enter the prophetic realm will not remain unscathed. They need a wise, compassionate mentor to guide them through the perils of this adventure, to assist them in the delicate task of interpreting the images, words, and other symbols that will be uncovered. Mary, Queen of Prophets, Contemplative Warrior, is prepared to mentor us in this manner, if we will put our trust in her.

Prayer

O beloved Mother,
you know the ways of holiness and love so well,
teach us to often raise our minds and hearts to the Trinity,
fixing our respectful and affectionate attention on the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

And since you guide us along the path to eternal life,
stay close to us poor pilgrims, open your arms to us,
turn your merciful eyes towards us, bring your clarity to us, cover us with your sweetness,
take us into light and love and always help us go a step further and higher into the splendours of heaven.

May our peace remain undisturbed and may the thought of God be always on our minds.
May every new minute take us deeper into the depths of your venerable mystery until the day that our fully radiant souls, illuminated by the divine union, will see all things in the eternal Love and Unity.

Ven. Marthe Robin (1902-1981)

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Identify the top obstacles that stand between you and a life of deeper prayer; then specifically entrust each one to Our Blessed Lady’s wise and gentle guidance.

To Go Deeper


[1] “Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The ‘spiritual battle’ of the Christian’s new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2725).

Galadriel | A New Eve, Who Overcomes the Tempter

Meditation of the Day

“Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?”

Song of Songs 6:10

The above description of the Bride has been applied typologically by our Catholic spiritual tradition to the Virgin Queen, who strikes terror in the hearts of the enemies of God. But paradoxically, she can only exercise such fearsome power now because during her earthly life, she continually chose to be nothing more than a lowly maidservant, as she declares both to the archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation and to her kinswoman Elizabeth (Luke 1:38,48). By her humility she undid the knot created by Eve’s pride in wanting to “be like God” (Gen. 3:5). She who humbled herself has now been exalted.

Galadriel makes the same choice as Mary. In her encounter with Frodo she is tempted—exactly as Eve was—to use the Ring to seize for herself the goddess-like status that would allow her to defeat the Enemy. Her prophetic sense, though, allows her to see very clearly what the end result would be: “All would love me and despair.” This would be the very opposite of what she desires and has always striven to achieve. It is her total clarity of vision, achieved by fidelity to contemplation, which allows her to unmask the temptation of the Ring for what it is, to reject the path of pride, and firmly to choose to remain herself, Galadriel. As she knows full well, this means that she will eventually have to relinquish her queenship and leave Middle-earth. “Suddenly she laughed again, and lo! she was shrunken: a slender elf-woman, clad in simple white, whose gentle voice was soft and sad. ‘I pass the test,’ she said. ‘I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel’” (Bk2 Ch7). At that moment, she is a worthy icon of the humble handmaid of Nazareth, who proclaimed that the Lord “has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly” (Luke 1:52).

We observe that the temptation presents to Galadriel’s conscience not an outright evil, but a good purpose: defeating Sauron, freeing those who live under his dominion, restoring justice and peace. However, as she knows very well, the end does not justify the means. If the means involves dominating other wills, robbing persons of their God-given freedom, it must be rejected as evil.

The Enemy in successive forms is always ‘naturally’ concerned with sheer Domination, and so the Lord of magic and machines; but the problem: that this frightful evil can and does arise from an apparently good root, the desire to benefit the world and others–speedily and according to the benefactor’s own plans–is a recurrent motive.

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

Having overcome every deceit of the wicked tempter, having crushed his proud head underfoot, our Mary is a most powerful recourse for us whenever we are subject to temptation. Entrusting ourselves fully to her is the quickest and surest means of avoiding the snares of the evil one, who loves to draw us away from the simplicity of children (or of hobbits) and entangle our minds in convoluted, perplexing inner debates.

Prayer

PRAYER OF CONFIDENCE IN MARY

Most Holy, Immaculate Virgin and my Mother Mary! To thee who art the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the world, the Advocate, the Hope, and the Refuge of sinners, I have recourse today, I who am the most miserable of all.

I render thee my most humble homage, O great Queen, and I thank thee for all the graces thou hast conferred on me until now, especially for having delivered me from Hell, which I have so often deserved. I love thee, O most amiable Lady; and for the love which I bear thee, I promise to serve thee always and to do all in my power to make others love thee also. I place in thee all my hopes; I confide my salvation to thy care.

Accept me for thy servant and receive me under thy mantle, O Mother of Mercy. And since thou art so powerful with God, deliver me from all temptations; or rather, obtain for me the strength to triumph over them until death. Of thee I ask a perfect love for Jesus Christ. Through thee I hope to die a good death. O my Mother, by the love which thou bearest to God, I beseech thee to help me at all times, but especially at the last moment of my life. Leave me not, I beseech thee, until thou seest me safe in Heaven, blessing thee and singing thy mercies for all eternity. Amen. Thus, I hope. Thus, may it be.

St. Alphonsus Liguori

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Promise Our Lady that you will fly to her the next time you are seriously tempted.
  • Learn about the Novena to Mary Undoer of Knots.
  • Fully entrust an infernally tangled situation in your life to the New Eve.

To Go Deeper

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.

Prayer

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?

Model of Consecration: Gimli

Meditation of the Day

Galadriel’s unexpected gesture of compassion to Gimli the Dwarf, as relatively minor as it may appear at first, has profound and transformative consequences for the remainder of his life.[1] Not only does he become an Elf-friend, and develop a strong personal bond with Legolas thereafter, but he becomes devoted to Galadriel herself in a way that goes far beyond admiration; it can only properly be compared to the courtly love that a medieval knight would exhibit to a lady of high standing (typically, the wife of his liege lord).[2] Later, in the land of Rohan (Bk3 Ch2), upon encountering Éomer and being suspected of being a “net-weaver and sorcerer” for having the favour of the Lady of the Golden Wood, Gimli is ready to fight and die on the spot, in defence of her honour. It appears that Galadriel, for her part, also understands him as forever devoted to her service: in her message to him through Gandalf the White, she dubs him “Lock-bearer,” calls herself “his Lady,” and brings him surpassing joy with the consoling words, “Wherever thou goest my thought goes with thee” (Bk3 Ch5; notice the use of archaic personal pronouns here, which is likely a nod to the medieval ethos).[3]

All this can easily be transposed to the living out of consecration to Our Lady. If we place ourselves humbly, sincerely at her service, and seek to do great deeds solely for her honour, with no thought of self-interest, we can be sure that she will respond with special protection and marks of favour toward us. If, in addition, we endure hardship and incur contempt (as Gimli initially did for his short and stocky stature), she will be even more ready to encourage us. She is the most gracious Queen we could ever desire to serve.

Prayer

Ave Augustissima, Regina pacis, sanctissima Mater Dei, per Sacratissimum Cor Jesu Filii tui Principis Pacis, fac ut quiescat ira ipsius et regnet super nos in pace. Memorare, O piissima Virgo Maria, non esse auditum a saeculo quemquam tua petentem suffragia esse derelictum. Ego tali animatus confidentia ad te venio. Noli, Mater Verbi, verba mea despicere; sed audi propitia, et exaudi, O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria. Amen.Hail, thou that art most Venerable, Queen of Peace, most holy Mother of God; through the Sacred Heart of Jesus thy Son, the Prince of Peace, cause His anger to cease from us, that so He may reign over us in peace. Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who sought thy prayers was forsaken by God. Inspired with this confidence, I come unto thee. Despise not my petitions, O Mother of the Incarnate Word; but in thy loving kindness hear and answer me, O merciful, O kind, O sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Pick three things (or more!), great or small, that you can do solely for Mary’s honour.
  • Reflect on some simple ways to spread devotion to the Immaculate.

To Go Deeper


[1] And on his afterlife: we learn at the end of Appendices A and B that alone of all Dwarvenkind, Gimli was granted the unheard-of privilege of sailing to the Undying Lands with his friend Legolas. “It is said that Gimli went also out of desire to see again the beauty of Galadriel; and it may be that she, being mighty among the Eldar, obtained this grace for him” (Appendix A). In Letter 154 to Naomi Mitchison, Tolkien would write in 1954 that Gimli was a “unique exception (. . .) as friend of Legolas and ‘servant’ of Galadriel.”

[2] Gimli “devotes himself to Galadriel in much the way a medieval knight devotes himself to his lady (an image of courtly dedication which in its highest form is transferred to the Lady, to Mary, the mother of Christ).” Marjorie Burns, Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien’s Middle-earth, p. 152; cited in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, 2d ed. (London, U.K.: HarperCollins, 2014), p. 340.

[3] We may even surmise that Gimli’s lifelong celibacy is a sign of his ongoing sense of consecration, even after the War of the Ring.

Galadriel | Mother of All Peoples

This post is dedicated to the memory of all victims of racial discrimination, past and present.

Empress of the Americas, pray for us!

Meditation of the Day

Scene 1: Moria

Journeys through the underworld are an archetypal trope of mythical storytelling across cultures, but few narratives in classical mythology can rival “The Bridge of Khazad-dûm” for sheer dramatic intensity. While we do not encounter any direct Marian symbolism in this chapter, we do witness a spectacular example of what Our Lady most desires to produce in her sons and daughters: the cruciform, self-sacrificial love of her Son, represented here by the Grey Pilgrim. Gandalf embraces his downfall with quiet acceptance; he knows that there is no other way to save his companions except to go down with the Balrog. And so he makes his last stand on the bridge, alone facing the Darkness. We witness his unforgettably bold and defiant declaration of his inner identity: “‘I am a servant of the Secret Fire [the Holy Spirit], wielder of the flame of Anor [the Sun]. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn [Hell]. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass’” (Bk2 Ch5). Would that all God’s servants had such a crystal clear perception of their identity in Christ! With Mary’s help, we can acquire it; and then we need never quail when the powers of darkness force a showdown. Even if they should drag us down into the Pit with them, we can trust in the power of God to raise us up to life again.

Scene 2: Lothlórien

After their narrow escape from the East Gate of Moria, the survivors are understandably overwhelmed by the trauma of losing their beloved leader. To be bereft of his wisdom and power, so soon in their quest, calls everything into question, and breeds despair. If the greatest among them has already fallen, how can the rest possibly succeed? “What hope have we without you?” cries Aragorn as they grieve. This crisis of hope tests the resolve and the character of every member of the Fellowship. They are vulnerable to temptation. Although Aragorn steps into the gap and takes up the mantle of leadership, the future of their company is very much in jeopardy.

It is in this precarious state that they enter the Golden Wood, a land protected by powerful enchantment, where time elapses differently than in the rest of the world. The Lady of this land is the most unmistakably Marian character in the entire epic: Galadriel, daughter of Finarfin, one of the most powerful Elves ever to have graced Middle-earth. Her realm would seem to be the safest place for the Fellowship to recover from the demise of Gandalf. Instead, however, they are met with suspicion—a tragic consequence of the disunity introduced by evil among the noblest and wisest of peoples. Even when their identities are disclosed, and the high rank of Aragorn and Legolas alone should have gained them unrestricted acceptance, the ugly reality of racial prejudice makes their Silvan-elf escort demand that Gimli the Dwarf be blindfolded, and “guarded” by Aragorn and Legolas.

Upon learning of the encounter with the Balrog in Moria, even Celeborn, Galadriel’s husband, begins to regret having allowed the party to enter his land, and does not hesitate to call into question Gandalf’s wisdom. Yet this sets the scene for Galadriel to manifest the depths of her own wisdom, and the universality of her compassion. She defends Gimli’s desire to see the halls of his fathers, and uses place names in Khuzdul, the Dwarves’ secret (and Semitic-sounding) language. “And the Dwarf, hearing the names given in his own ancient tongue, looked up and met her eyes; and it seemed to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and saw there love and understanding. Wonder came into his face, and then he smiled in answer” (Bk2 Ch7). Instantly, the wall which ancestral racial hatred erected comes tumbling down—much like the wall between Jews and Gentiles that Saint Paul mentions as having been overcome by the death of Christ (Eph. 2:14). In Galadriel, we are given a vision of Mary as the Mother of All Peoples, who fulfills the destiny of Zion announced in Psalm 87.

Christ’s command to love everyone without distinction, even one’s enemies, to imitate God Himself who “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Matt. 5:45), is undoubtedly one of the most difficult teachings in the Gospel. Truly, “with men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). Experiencing the universal compassion of Mary, Mother of All Peoples, allows us to look into the heart of an enemy and see a fellow human being, a brother or sister.

Prayer

i. Most Holy Virgin, I venerate thee with my whole heart above all angels and saints in Paradise, as the Daughter of the Eternal Father, and I consecrate to thee my soul with all its powers.
Hail Mary . . .

ii. Most holy Virgin, I venerate thee with my whole heart above all angels and saints in Paradise, as the Mother of the Only-begotten Son, and I consecrate to thee my body with all its senses.
Hail Mary . . .

iii. Most Holy Virgin, I venerate thee with my whole heart above all angels and saints in Paradise, as the Spouse of the Holy Ghost, and I consecrate to thee my heart and all its affections, praying thee to obtain for me from the ever-blessed Trinity all that is necessary for my salvation.
Hail Mary . . .

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • If there are specific persons or groups of persons whom I have placed on the other side of a dividing wall of suspicion or enmity, I can beg Our Blessed Lady, Mother of All Peoples, this day to look upon them with her eyes, since they too are her children.
  • Contemplate the image miraculously imprinted upon St. Juan Diego’s tilma, of the Virgin Mother as a mestiza, a woman of mixed European and Aztec descent; acclaim her as a sign of hope for healing and reconciliation among “all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” (Rev. 7:9).

To Go Deeper