Model of Consecration: Aragorn

Meditation of the Day

Even though the Dark Lord has been vanquished, the One Ring and everything constructed with its power have been destroyed, Elessar has been crowned King and has begun his reign in mercy and justice, even still his joy is not complete. He wishes the Companions of the Ring to remain by his side, because the end of their story has not yet come. “I would have you wait a little while longer: for the end of the deeds that you have shared in has not yet come. A day draws near that I have looked for in all the years of my manhood, and when it comes I would have my friends beside me.” (Bk6 Ch5). Even after everything he has gone through to enjoy this moment of glorious triumph, Aragorn the humble Servant-King does not trust in his own worth or in the value of his colossal accomplishments. Even though he has met Elrond’s impossible conditions, he does not take it for granted that his beloved bride will now be his. He submits his desire to the will of heaven, and as Gandalf explains, he “waits for a sign.”

The sign takes the form of a tender young sapling of the White Tree, sprung up unexpectedly from a seed planted centuries earlier. It is growing in a hallow unvisited by anyone since the line of kings failed, but Gandalf the White, messenger of Eru, has led Aragorn there. What was true of his own lineage is true of the Tree that guarantees divine blessing upon his dynasty. “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1). “On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11). Aragorn is the embodiment of righteous, anointed kingship. Like David, he is a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). It is only because he continually submits his human will to the will of God that he deserves to reign, and to be united to Arwen Evenstar.

Then at last, on the Eve of Midsummer, comes the fulfilment of Aragorn’s desire. “Last came Master Elrond, mighty among Elves and Men, bearing the sceptre of Annúminas, and beside him upon a grey palfrey rode Arwen his daughter, Evenstar of her people. And Frodo when he saw her come glimmering in the evening, with stars on her brow and a sweet fragrance about her, was moved with great wonder, and he said to Gandalf: ‘At last I understand why we have waited! This is the ending. Now not day only shall be beloved, but night too shall be beautiful and blessed and all its fear pass away!’” (Bk6 Ch5).

Consecration to Mary will form in us the same heart that was in Aragorn, a heart that seeks the will of God above the highest honours and riches of this world, a heart that readily puts others above oneself, a heart that is fit to be an instrument for the accomplishment of God’s own purposes in the world.

Prayer

Hail, Mary, Mother of God, venerable treasure of the whole world. You are the lamp that is never extinguished, the crown of virginity, the rule of orthodoxy, the incorruptible temple containing the one whom nothing can contain, the mother and virgin, through whom the one who comes in the Name of the Lord receives in the Gospel the name of “Blessed.”
We salute you, who have borne the immensity of God in your virginal womb. Through you, the Trinity is sanctified. Through you, the Cross is venerated in the whole world. Through you, heaven is filled with joy. Through you, the angels and archangels rejoice.
Through you, demons are sent flying. Through you, the tempter devil is cast out of heaven. Through you, the fallen creature is elevated to heaven.
Through you, the whole universe, possessed by idolatry, has attained the knowledge of the truth. Through you, holy baptism comes to those who believe. Through you, the oil of gladness reaches us.
Through you, churches are established in the whole world. Through you, peoples are led to conversion.
Through you, even more, the only-begotten Son of God has radiated like light upon those who sat in darkness and the shadow of death.
Through you, the prophets have announced their message, and the Apostles have proclaimed salvation to the nations.
Through you, the dead rise, and kings exercise their royalty, by the power of the Holy Trinity.

A father of the Council of Ephesus (431)

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Identify two or three areas in your life where you might be tempted to rely on your own strength, wisdom, or worthiness. Surrender these areas fully into God’s hands, through the hands of Mary.
  • Beg God to send His people leaders after His own heart, both in civil society and in the Church.

To Go Deeper

Arwen | Long-desired Bride of the Lamb

Meditation of the Day

And Aragorn the King Elessar wedded Arwen Undómiel in the City of the Kings upon the day of Midsummer, and the tale of their long waiting and labours was come to fulfilment. (Bk6 Ch5)

The timing of the royal wedding of Aragorn and Arwen follows the chronology of the end times, as laid out in the final book of the Bible. It is only after the final defeat of evil that the Lamb’s kingdom is fully established and that the earth is ready, is pure enough, for the Bride to come down from heaven to meet Him. As the Catechism teaches, “The kingdom will be fulfilled . . ., not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven” (CCC 677). Although the “marriage of the Lamb” is announced in Rev. 19:6-9, all the superhuman enemies of God (the Beast, the False Prophet, the Devil, Death, and Hades) must first be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20; 20:10,14—the eruption of Mount Doom fittingly causes rivers of fire to flow), before the Bride descends at last (Rev. 21:2). Like the wedding of Christ and the Church which it symbolizes, the union of Arwen with Aragorn inaugurates a time of pure bliss, unmarred by any further conflict with evil forces.

Undoubtedly, the intensity of the royal couple’s marital bliss will be commensurate with the heavy personal cost that both have borne in the forty years since their betrothal in Cerin Amroth. But the “long waiting and labours” that Aragorn took on to win his bride’s hand, as arduous as they were, even counting his symbolic passage through the realm of the Dead, pale in comparison to what our Saviour underwent out of love for us, His Church, during His Passion. Evoking the “great mystery” of the marital union between God and His people, St. Paul eloquently declares that Christ “loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25b-27).

Our Blessed Lady, assumed into heaven, already participates in the final triumph of her divine Son, the triumphant Lamb. She is the prototype of what will be our common inheritance, when the new heaven and new earth are finally revealed (see 1 Pet. 1:4-5). “In the interim just as the Mother of Jesus, glorified in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected is the world to come, so too does she shine forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come, as a sign of sure hope and solace to the people of God during its sojourn on earth” (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium 68).

Prayer

PSALM 45 (TLV)

My heart is stirred with a good word.
I speak my verses to the king.
My tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.
You are the most handsome of the sons of men.
Grace pours from your lips.
Therefore God has blessed you forever.
Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
in your splendor and your majesty.
In your majesty ride victoriously,
on behalf of truth, meekness and justice.
Let your right hand display awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp.
Peoples fall beneath you—
into the heart of the king’s enemies.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
and a scepter of justice is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore, God, your God, anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions.
All your robes have myrrh, aloes, cassia.
From ivory palaces, stringed instruments
make you glad.
Kings’ daughters are among your honored women.
At your right hand stands the queen
in gold of Ophir.
“Listen, O daughter, consider and incline your ear.
Forget your people and your father’s house.
Then the king will desire your beauty.
Honor him, for he is your lord.
A daughter of Tyre comes with a gift.
The richest people will court your favor.”
All glorious is the king’s daughter within the palace—
her gown is interwoven with gold.
She will be led to the king in embroidered garments.
Her virgins, her companions following her, are coming in to you.
They are led in with joy and gladness—
they enter into the palace of the king.
Your sons will take your fathers’ place.
You will make them princes throughout the land.
I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations.
Therefore the nations will praise you forever and ever.

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Reflect for a few minutes (or longer) upon what it has cost Our Lord to present us to Himself as a pure and holy Bride. What more could He possibly have done to win our love? How our ingratitude and indifference must pain His Heart.

To Go Deeper

  • Read Revelation 21, with a good commentary.

Model of Consecration: Aragorn

Meditation of the Day

The most powerful undead beings in Middle-earth are about to attack Aragorn and his companions in the wilderness, at night when their power is at its peak. “Long ago they fell under the dominion of the One,” Gandalf once told Frodo, “and they became Ringwraiths, shadows under his great Shadow, his most terrible servants.” Yet Aragorn sits by the fire, smoking his pipe, and sings of fair Elfmaidens from the age of legends! Why is he not fleeing in terror and madness, as so many have already done since the Nine have arisen again to hunt for the One Ring? He cannot be oblivious to the danger. When he first spelled out for the hobbits who the Riders were, back in Bree, “his face was drawn as if with pain, and his hands clenched the arms of his chair.” He said, “You fear them, but you do not fear them enough, yet” (Bk1 Ch10). Is he perhaps, then, utterly confident that his own martial prowess and strength of mind will allow him to single-handedly drive off these formidable assailants? That is implausible too. He bears no weapon but a broken sword, Narsil. During the attack, Frodo will glimpse him springing forward “with a flaming brand of wood in either hand.” Is a single man armed with two torches enough to defeat five fully armed Nazgûl—including their chief, the Witch-king of Angmar, who has laid entire kingdoms to waste—by the use of force alone? Are these masters of sorcery so vulnerable to ordinary fire? Hardly.

We are meant to understand that the source of Aragorn’s power against evil resides in his identity, in his holiness, in his fidelity to the example of self-emptying love and humility handed down from the very ancestors, especially Lúthien, that he has just been singing about. There are visible signs that he is connecting with a much higher source of power than his own strength, as he becomes a vehicle for the oral tradition of Elves and Men: “As Strider was speaking they watched his strange eager face, dimly lit in the red glow of the wood-fire. His eyes shone, and his voice was rich and deep. Above him was a black starry sky.” In Christian terms, we would say that Aragorn is filled with the Holy Spirit. In Middle-earth terms, the Secret Fire dwells in him, and is kindled into flame by the ancient poetry passed down the ages. He is a true son of Lúthien, which is why he can act with authority against the servants of Sauron.

Through consecration, we aim to become true sons and daughters of Mary, to be so conformed to her and united with her that we, too, will be able to withstand all the wickedness and spite of the Enemy of our souls. We need not tremble before him. “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed” (Rev. 5:5), and He has given us “authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19). Even if to worldly eyes we appear defenceless and feeble, we are clothed in God’s armour. The Immaculate Heart will be our breastplate.

Prayer

1 Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing;
You reign now in splendor with Jesus, our King.

Refrain:
Ave, ave, ave, María!
Ave, ave, María!

2 In heaven the blessed your glory proclaim;
On earth we, your children, invoke your sweet name. [Refrain]

3 Your name is our power, your virtues our light;
Your love is our comfort, your prayers our might. [Refrain]

4 We pray for the Church, our true mother on earth;
And beg you to watch o’er the land of our birth. [Refrain]

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • When darkness threatens, singing sweetly to our fair Lady, like Aragorn did at Weathertop, is one of the best practices we can employ. If we truly abide within Mary’s Immaculate Heart, we can drive off the unholy one with torches, candles, flowers, or children’s toys. We have learned not to rely on our own strength, and we know how great hers is, so what is there to fear?
  • Like the songs that Aragorn learned in his youth in Rivendell, the musical heritage of both East and West is replete with hymns that exalt the Mother of God. We can find one that is unfamiliar to us, learn it, and resolve to make use of it the next time we are troubled or anxious. (For Western Christians, I would recommend the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos from the Byzantine tradition.)

To Go Deeper

Lúthien Tinúviel | Lover of Mortal Man

Meditation of the Day

Led by Aragorn, whom Gandalf once described to Frodo as “the greatest traveller and huntsman of this age of the world,” the hobbits have so far evaded the pursuing Black Riders; but as they linger on the summit of Weathertop, the enemy perceives them and they must brace themselves for the onslaught during the night hours. As they huddle nervously around their campfire, Aragorn does his best to “lift up [their] hearts” by chanting a song from the Elder Days, the Tale of Tinúviel. He warns them that it is a fair but sad tale. What is it about his distant ancestor, Lúthien the Nightingale (Tinúviel) that makes her story so inspiring at this perilous moment? At least two features of the story (told more fully in The Silmarillion) come to mind.

The first is the theme of a love that overcomes death itself (see Song of Songs 8:6). Lúthien, an Elfmaiden, and her human lover Beren were renowned for the extreme heroism and daring they showed in infiltrating the realm of Morgoth, the Great Enemy, “of whom Sauron of Mordor was but a servant,” to wrest one of the Silmarils (greatest of jewels) from his crown. They cast him down from his throne. Afterward Lúthien rescued Beren from the dungeons of Sauron. Yet what so enkindles Aragorn’s heart is not her virtue of courage so much as the matchless love that fuelled it: love for a mortal man, like himself. Love that proved stronger than death, because when Beren was slain, Lúthien chose mortality so that she could follow him “beyond the confines of this world.” This is the only kind of love that, in the end, can defeat evil, and redeem the world.

When Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

John 13:1

This holy love is the inheritance that Lúthien passed on to her children, in all their generations. We know it is such love that animates Aragorn, for he already declared to the hobbits in Bree: “I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will” (Bk1 Ch10). We will learn that this love-unto-death also lives in the heart of his beloved, Arwen daughter of Elrond (also descended from Lúthien, through a different line). It is this holy love that every true warrior of light must possess; and Aragorn, the Servant-King, knows how to enkindle it in the hearts of his followers. When Frodo will stand up to the Nazgûl at the Ford of Bruinen, we will hear him call on the names of both Elbereth and Lúthien: “‘By Elbereth and Lúthien the Fair,’ said Frodo with a last effort, lifting up his sword, ‘you shall have neither the Ring nor me!’” (Bk1 Ch12).

The second feature of the Tale of Tinúviel that makes it especially encouraging to weak Hobbits about to face vastly superior and unspeakably evil foes is that her tale reveals the secret wisdom, hidden in creation, unknown to all but the Creator, according to which it is not the wise and powerful who will achieve definitive victory over evil, but the foolish and the weak:

“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are.”

1 Cor. 1:27-28

Here is Tolkien’s own explanation of how this theme is exemplified in the story of Beren and Lúthien:

Here we meet, among other things, the first example of the motive (to become dominant in Hobbits) that the great policies of world history, ‘the wheels of the world’, are often turned not by the Lords and Governors, even gods, but by the seemingly unknown and weak – owing to the secret life in creation, and the part unknowable to all wisdom but One, that resides in the intrusions of the Children of God into the Drama. It is Beren the outlawed mortal who succeeds (with the help of Lúthien, a mere maiden even if an elf of royalty) where all the armies and warriors have failed: he penetrates the stronghold of the Enemy and wrests one of the Silmarilli from the Iron Crown. Thus he wins the hand of Lúthien and the first marriage of mortal and immortal is achieved.

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

The Blessed Virgin is the creature who most perfectly embodies both love-unto-death and the lowliness that is necessary to overcome evil, in our fallen world. It is she, the “Woman” (John 19:26; 2:4), who stands with her Son at the Cross, when virtually all His disciples have fled; and it is she who waits in silent hope for the dawn of the Resurrection, when all others are lost to grief and despair. What better Advocate can we poor mortals find, when we are burdened with unbearable trials and distress?

“By her maternal charity, Mary cares for the brethren of her Son who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led to their happy fatherland. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix.”

Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church Lumen gentium, no. 62

Mary of Nazareth, our Lúthien, is the lowly maiden chosen out of all the women in history to bear the world’s salvation. Her soul magnifies the God who “puts down the mighty from their thrones and lifts up the lowly” (Luke 1:52). To imitate her lowliness is to be assured of victory, no matter what foes are arrayed against us.

Prayer

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen.

We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.  (Partial Indulgence)

Ortírielyanna (Tolkien’s Translation into Quenya)

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Both Mary’s maternal love for her children and her humility are clearly manifested in the way she addresses the visionaries to whom she has appeared down through the centuries. What tender sensitivity and gentleness she shows to them! For example, read her affectionate words to St. Juan Diego or her courteous request to St. Bernadette in the third apparition. (The visionaries Our Lady has chosen are such luminous icons of her, aren’t they?)
  • What would a mother not do to rescue her child from danger? What would Mary not do to rescue you? What has she already done in your life, through her unceasing intercession? Be sure to thank her.

To Go Deeper

Gilraen | Sorrowful Mother

Meditation of the Day

After an even more horrifying encounter with an evil power, the Barrow-wight, our hobbits (and their ponies) are once again rescued by Tom Bombadil, who accompanies them to the edge of his domain, within a short distance of the Road, not far from the village of Bree. It is there, providentially, that a powerful new ally is waiting for them: Aragorn, son of Arathorn, Lord of the Dúnedain, last descendant of the line of Kings of Men that stretches back to Isildur and his father Elendil. It was they who overcame the Dark Lord Sauron an age ago, and took the One Ring from his hand. Like Frodo, Aragorn is one of the principal Christ-figures in the story. It is easy to recognize in him the traits of the Son of David, heir to the throne but cloaked in obscurity and lowliness. Thirty-nine generations separate him from his illustrious ancestor, much like the forty-two generations of Jesus’s genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel. To the inhabitants of Bree, however, he is “only” a Ranger, and they use a derisive nickname for him, Strider.

It is in the Appendices to LOTR that we learn the family history and genealogy of Aragorn. After his father was killed by orcs when he was only two years old, his mother Gilraen the Fair brought him to Rivendell, where he was fostered by Elrond. So great was the threat against him from the Enemy that he was not even told his own true identity or lineage until the age of twenty. He was known only as Estel, “Hope,” corresponding to his grandmother’s prophecy that hope would be born for their people. Many years later, as Gilraen sensed that her death was approaching, she and her son had their final parting, during which she uttered this desolate verse: “I gave Hope to the Dúnedain, I have kept no hope for myself.”

Although in this case it is the son who loses his mother and not vice versa, such a plaintive cry from the mother of the future King resonates with the sorrows that Our Lady was destined to endure, as Mother of the Messiah. The song of the angels at our Saviour’s birth was still fresh in her mind when Mary heard the prophecy of Simeon, that a sword would pierce through her own soul (Luke 2:35). Later, as she stood at the foot of the Cross, her grief was so immense that the Church’s Liturgy puts on her lips the words of Lamentations: “O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow” (1:12).

To consecrate ourselves to Mary means to seek complete harmony between our hearts and hers. Like musical instruments, our hearts must become more and more tuned to hers, to the full range of her human emotions—from the heights of yearning and ecstasy at the birth of her Son to the total devastation of Calvary. Love desires to share every moment, every experience. As we grow in love for the Blessed Virgin, it is no longer enough for us to learn about the mysteries that unfolded in her life: we desire to be inside the mysteries, with her.

Prayer

STABAT MATER

Mother bowed with grief appalling must thou watch, with tears slow falling, on the cross Thy dying son!
Through my heart, thus sorrow riven, must that cruel sword be driven, as foretold – O Holy One!
Oh, how mournful and oppressed was that Mother ever-blessed, Mother of the Spotless One:
She, whose grieving was perceiving, contemplating, unabating, all the anguish of her Son!
Is there any, tears withholding, Christ’s dear Mother thus beholding, in woe – like no other woe!
Who that would not grief be feeling for that Holy Mother kneeling – what suffering was ever so?
For the sins of every nation she beheld his tribulation, given to scourgers for a prey:
Saw her Jesus foully taken, languishing, by all forsaken, when his spirit passed away.
Love’s sweet fountain, Mother tender, haste this hard heart, soft to render, make me sharer in Thy pain.
Fire me now with zeal so glowing, love so rich to Jesus, flowing, that I favor may obtain.
Holy Mother, I implore Thee, crucify this heart before Thee, guilty it is verily!
Hate, misprision, scorn, derision, thirst assailing, failing vision, railing, ailing, deal to me.
In Thy keeping, watching, weeping, by the cross may I unsleeping live and sorrow for his sake.
Close to Jesus, with Thee kneeling, all Thy dolours with Thee feeling, oh grant this – the prayer I make.
Maid immaculate, excelling, peerless one, in heav’n high dwelling, make me truly mourn with Thee.
Make me sighing hear Him dying, ever newly vivifying the anguish He bore for me.
With the same scar lacerated, by the cross enfired, elated, wrought by love to ecstasy!
Thus inspired and affected let me, Virgin, be protected when sounds forth the call for me!
May his sacred cross defend me, he who died there so befriend me, that His pardon shall suffice.
When this earthly frame is riven, grant that to my soul is given all the joys of Paradise!
Rhyming English translation by Beatrice E. Bullman

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Spend five minutes (or longer) reflecting exclusively on what it felt like for Mary to see her divine Son dying the shameful death of the Cross, to behold helplessly the undoing of the Body that had been knit together inside her body.
  • Think of a specific person whose sorrow is too great for ordinary human consolation, and entrust them to the Sorrowful Mother.

To Go Deeper