Éowyn | Mother of the Living, Healer of the Land

Meditation of the Day

Then the heart of Éowyn changed, or else at last she understood it. And suddenly her winter passed, and the sun shone on her. (Bk6 Ch5)

In the presence of the gentle, wise, patient love of Faramir (one who has been as deeply wounded by life and by the Shadow as she has), Éowyn undergoes a miraculous transformation: from despair to hope, from the grim pursuit of death to the joyful service of life, from self-protection to the vulnerability of intimacy, from the prideful desire to be a queen to unconcern about rank. She vows, “I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.” Overjoyed, Faramir proposes that they make a home in Ithilien, a once fair garden land that was blighted by its proximity to Mordor. They will be renewers of the land. “All things will grow with joy there, if the White Lady comes.” She has come into the fullness of her spiritual stature (see Eph. 4:13). She will be a human counterpart to Galadriel, and an even more luminous icon of our Blessed Lady than she already was.

All this magnificent potential lay within Éowyn, but as Tolkien suggests, she did not understand her own heart. God had to reveal it to her, through a long, dark tunnel of suffering (shame, rejection, the feeling of being trapped, the soul-and-body-breaking encounter with the Witch-King). If only there could be an easier way, for her and for us! But grace prevailed in her, over the dark temptations, and prepared her to take the risky step of allowing Faramir to see her, with the eyes of love. Her stay in the Houses of Healing (another Marian image!) was the final catalyst. “Now that I have leave to depart, I would remain. For this House has become to me of all dwellings the most blessed” (cf. Luke 1:42).

Our Lady desires to oversee a similar process of inner transformation within each of us: away from the false self, often constructed as a defence against outside threats, and toward the true self, “which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24; cf. Col. 3:10). If we invite her, she will begin to delicately peel back the layers of inauthenticity that we may not even realize are covering our hearts. She will introduce us to her Son, the true Bridegroom of our souls, whose redemptive love is the only remedy that can make us whole.

Prayer

Alma Redemptoris Mater, quae pervia caeli
porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti,
surgere qui curat, populo: tu quae genuisti,
natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem,
Virgo prius ac posterius, Gabrielis ab ore
sumens illud Ave, peccatorum miserere. 
Mother of Christ, hear thou thy people’s cry,
Star of the deep, and Portal of the sky!
Mother of Him who thee from nothing made,
Sinking we strive, and call to thee for aid:
Oh, by that joy which Gabriel brought to thee,
thou Virgin first and last, let us thy mercy see.

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Invite Mary to be the midwife of your truest self, your deepest spiritual identity. Give her permission to lead you to her Son, whose love will make you a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), day by day.
  • Find a concrete way of expressing your desire to place yourself resolutely at the service of life.

To Go Deeper

Model of Consecration: Merry

Meditation of the Day

Although he has in all earnestness pledged his service to the Lord of the Mark, Meriadoc finds himself, like the Lady Éowyn, ordered to remain behind when the Riders answer the summons of the war-beacons. Of what use could an untrained halfling possibly be in mounted combat? While all his friends (even Pippin) have found their way to engage the enemy in this apocalyptic War, Merry is condemned to sit on the sidelines. But he is not invisible to the divine providence that is guiding all things to their fulfillment. His lowliness is in fact his greatest asset. He is rescued from his frustration and dejection by another, who has also been told to “keep the home fires burning” while the men find glory and death on the battlefields of Gondor. As “small, unwanted, and lonely” as he might feel, he willingly endures the humiliation of being treated as Dernhelm’s baggage, for a chance at least to do some good, somehow. He doesn’t know what use he might be; all he knows is that he must follow the King, to the end. What an icon of pure discipleship for us![1]

Both Éowyn and Merry look upon Théoden as a father, and it is armed with this love that they are able to overcome the terror that would have rendered the most skilled warrior helpless. Judged unworthy by men to even join the host of the Rohirrim, they prove themselves worthy of fulfilling the ancient prophecy, and bringing to an end the sorcery that binds the Ringwraith to his physical form.

The stone which the builders rejected / Has become the chief cornerstone. / This was the Lord’s doing; / It is marvelous in our eyes. (Psalm 118:22-23)

At the decisive moment, Merry is filled with admiration for Éowyn’s more-than-manly courage: “She should not die, so fair, so desperate! At least she should not die alone, unaided.” Giving no thought to himself, seeking only to help her, he crawls forward to strike the foe. No knight of the Mark could have asked for a more valiant squire.

In the traditional form of consecration crafted by St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, we pledge to become Mary’s property, her “slaves.” Her baggage, just like Merry. Her little squires, overlooked by the evil one as “no more than a worm in the mud,” because his malicious attention will be entirely fixed on her. But this diversion, effected by our consecration, is precisely what will allow us to deliver the blow that will free us and those we love from the enemy’s tyranny, once and for all.

Prayer

“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
My horn is exalted in the Lord.
I smile at my enemies,
Because I rejoice in Your salvation.

“No one is holy like the Lord,
For there is none besides You,
Nor is there any rock like our God.

“Talk no more so very proudly;
Let no arrogance come from your mouth,
For the Lord is the God of knowledge;
And by Him actions are weighed.

“The bows of the mighty men are broken,
And those who stumbled are girded with strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
And the hungry have ceased to hunger.
Even the barren has borne seven,
And she who has many children has become feeble.

“The Lord kills and makes alive;
He brings down to the grave and brings up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
He brings low and lifts up.
He raises the poor from the dust
And lifts the beggar from the ash heap,
To set them among princes
And make them inherit the throne of glory.

“For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
And He has set the world upon them.
He will guard the feet of His saints,
But the wicked shall be silent in darkness.

“For by strength no man shall prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces;
From heaven He will thunder against them.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.

“He will give strength to His king,
And exalt the horn of His anointed.”

(1 Samuel 2:1-10 NKJV)

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Like Merry, we will rise to our true greatness when we have finally broken free from the shackles of the ego and are thinking the least about our selves. Let’s tell Our Lady that we are willing to go there, if she will lead us, if she will take us on as her baggage.

To Go Deeper


[1] “God writes the new name on those places only in our lives where He has erased the pride and self-sufficiency and self-interest. (. . .) The disciple is one who has the new name written all over him; self-interest and pride and self-sufficiency have been completely erased.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Classic Edition (Discovery House: Kindle Edition), p. 218.

Éowyn | Fearless Virgin Warrior, Virgin Most Faithful

Meditation of the Day

Éowyn, the White Lady of Rohan, is deservedly one of the most popular of Tolkien’s female characters. Proud shield-maiden of a warrior race, languishing in the role of nursemaid to an ailing king, desperate to achieve renown or at least an honourable death in battle—at first glance she seems more at home in the pages of the Nordic sagas than in those of the Christian Bible. Yet the development of her character shows that she is richly imbued with Marian symbolism. This is most evident in the confrontation with the Lord of the Nazgûl, this most powerful of Sauron’s servants, an ancient sorcerer and warrior whose mere presence is enough to make men and beasts flee in blind terror. Yet Éowyn stands undaunted before him, and promises to smite him if he should dare to touch her fallen king and kinsman, Théoden. “Still she did not blench: maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings, slender but as a steel-blade, fair yet terrible.” It is by her purity as well as her courage that she is able to withstand this maleficent foe.

Although she has disguised her womanhood to ride with the other warriors to the aid of besieged Minas Tirith, it is significant that it is as a woman that she defeats the Black Captain. With astounding defiance, she removes her helm, lets her golden hair flow freely, and declares herself to be a woman. Christian ears hear once again an echo of the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, that God would put enmities between the serpent and the woman; she it is who will crush his head (Latin Vulgate version). There was a prophecy about the Witch-king, too, uttered a thousand years earlier by Glorfindel: “not by the hand of man will he fall” (see Judges 4:9). In his arrogance, the Ringwraith takes these words to mean that he is invulnerable to anyone living. How fitting that in the wise designs of providence, this ancient lord of death would be felled by a youthful vessel of life. It is also fitting that she should (unknowingly) avenge her future husband.

All hell trembles before the Virgin of virgins, our Mother. Standing beside her on the battleground, we need fear no evil. She fights for Love, and she promises, “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

Prayer

Inviolata, integra, et casta es Maria,
quae es effecta fulgida caeli porta.

O Mater alma Christi carissima,
suscipe pia laudum praeconia.

Te nunc flagitant devota corda et ora,
nostra ut pura pectora sint et corpora.

Tu per precata dulcisona,
nobis concedas veniam per saecula.

O benigna! O Regina! O Maria,
quae sola inviolata permansisti.
Inviolate, spotless and pure art thou,
O Mary Who wast made the radiant gate of the King.

Holy mother of Christ most dear,
receive our devout hymn and praise.

Our hearts and tongues now ask of thee
that our souls and bodies may be pure.

By thy sweet sounding prayers
obtain for us forgiveness forever.

O gracious queen, O Mary,
who alone among women art inviolate.

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Consider how obedience to God and humility do not mean adopting a passive, subservient attitude. They may call us to bold, vigorous resistance to the evil that we see prevailing around us. Like Éowyn, we may need to step outside the conventional roles and societal norms to which we have been relegated.
  • Consider how living out authentic femininity (and masculinity) is in itself a rebellion against the kingdom of darkness.
  • Pray specifically for the virtue of purity, which slays the enemy’s mount with a single blow.

To Go Deeper