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