Meditation of the Day
Within the hidden Valley of Rivendell—situated at the midpoint between heaven and earth—lies the fair House of Elrond, described in The Hobbit and LOTR as “the Last Homely House east of the Sea.” It is so designated because of its proximity to the “edge of the Wild”: a symbolic threshold between civilized and untamed lands, between known and unknown. So both on the vertical and the horizontal axes, this is a place of decision, where heroes must either embrace their high calling or turn back, settling for a life of mediocrity. From what we have learned of Frodo’s character so far, we have every reason to expect him to make the heroic, self-sacrificial choice; but first he will need to receive healing in the physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of his being. This is granted to him directly by Elrond Half-elven, Lord of Rivendell, but also by the House itself: “Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness” (Bk2 Ch1). Both a masculine and a feminine principle come into play.
Elrond symbolises throughout the ancient wisdom, and his House represents Lore–the preservation in reverent memory of all tradition concerning the good, wise, and beautiful. It is not a scene of action but of reflection. Thus it is a place visited on the way to all deeds, or ‘adventures’. It may prove to be on the direct road (as in The Hobbit); but it may be necessary to go from there in a totally unexpected course. So necessarily in The Lord of the Rings, having escaped to Elrond from the imminent pursuit of present evil, the hero departs in a wholly new direction: to go and face it at its source.J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 131 to Milton Waldman (1951)
What a lofty vocation: to preserve “in reverent memory (. . .) all tradition concerning the good, wise, and beautiful”! With the eyes of faith, we can easily recognize in this a description of the mission of the Church, the Bride of Christ, and of her prototype and supreme model, the Blessed Virgin.
Christ is the supreme Teacher, the revealer and the one revealed. It is not just a question of learning what he taught but of “learning him.” In this regard could we have any better teacher than Mary? From the divine standpoint, the Spirit is the interior teacher who leads us to the full truth of Christ. But among creatures no one knows Christ better than Mary; no one can introduce us to a profound knowledge of his mystery better than his Mother.Pope St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae
In the heart of Elrond’s House, the Hall of Fire epitomizes the faithful preservation and living transmission of the wisdom of past ages, through poetry, song, storytelling, and silent contemplation. “Except on high days,” Gandalf explains, in a way that hints at the observance of a quasi-liturgical calendar, “it usually stands empty and quiet, and people come here who wish for peace, and thought. There is always a fire here, all the year round, but there is little other light.” It is the closest thing to a chapel in Middle-earth. The fire is lit continually because it has a symbolic, ceremonial purpose, like the lamps in the Temple of Solomon or those in our churches. It represents the Secret Fire, the Flame Imperishable that burns at the heart of Eä—or, in our own world, the Holy Spirit, Who came upon the Blessed Virgin at the Annunciation and overshadowed her, making her His Spouse.
Just as the House of Elrond cooperated with its master to heal the Ringbearer and impart to him the supernatural wisdom needed for his redemptive mission, Our Lady works efficaciously with her divine Spouse to heal all the wounds inflicted on us by sin, and to form each of us into “little Christs,” inasmuch as we invite her to do so.
Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Seat of Wisdom,
open our hearts to receive your divine Son and make them like your heart, full of your own wise and generous love:
a love, that brings true peace to our lives and to those of many others;
a love, that creates an atmosphere of joy and security to all those with whom we live day after day;
a love, that strengthens our will when sacrifice is demanded and that urges it on to virtue, while keeping us always kind and gentle;
a love, that gives us strength to deny ourselves and to carry the spiritual burdens of others;
a love, that does not flee from sacrifice, but that can carry the daily cross with persevering trust;
a love, that is willing to serve without looking for praise or reward, and that is thus able to comfort those in trouble;
a love, that enables us to be silent about ourselves and to heal many spiritual wounds through our reparation and penance.
Mother of Divine Wisdom, hear our prayer.
- Sometimes children will pridefully hide their wounds and scrapes from their mother, and stubbornly insist on taking care of things themselves. How much quicker their wounds would heal if they let go of self-reliance and trusted their mother’s greater experience and skill! Today, identify some wounds in your life that you have yet to turn over fully to your Mother’s care . . . and do so.
- Within the overall mission of the Church of Christ on earth, reflect on how you are personally chosen, called, and sent to advance the cause of “all that is good, wise, and beautiful” in this world.
- Imaginatively place yourself on Mary’s lap, and ask her to teach you something you don’t know or understand about her Son, “the firstborn among many brethren,” who rested there first.
To Go Deeper
- St. John Henry Newman, “Seat of Wisdom“
- John Paul Meenan, “Our Lady of Walsingham, To Whom England Belongs“