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

Ioreth | Health of the Sick

Silvery Cinquefoil (Potentilla argentea). Low plant, flowers 1 cm across, roadside in an upland barrier beach forest.

Meditation of the Day

In Middle-earth, as we have already seen many times, wisdom is not the prerogative of the high and mighty, or of those who are accounted wise by others. The wisest of all—such as Gandalf—are precisely the ones who know that wisdom, and courage, can reside in the unlikeliest of places, even under the guise of foolishness. Hence the wizard’s centuries-old interest in the humble lives of hobbits. On hearing Boromir express skepticism about the folk tales concerning Fangorn Forest, Celeborn sagely remarked: “Do not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of things that once were needful for the wise to know” (Bk2 Ch8).

This lowly, earthy, easily dismissed wisdom is embodied in the person of Ioreth, “an old wife, . . . the eldest of those who served” in the Houses of Healing in Minas Tirith. Although the last king of Gondor disappeared almost a thousand years earlier, she calls to mind the tradition that a rightful king can be known by the gift of healing. It so happens that the only remaining claimant to the throne is encamped outside the city, and prompted by her saying, Gandalf will shortly call upon him to exercise his gift upon Faramir, Éowyn, and Merry, who are slipping into darkness from their encounters with the Nazgûl. It is also the old wives, not the pedantic herb-master, who correctly remember the virtues of athelas, the herb that in Elessar’s hands will cure the effects of the Black Breath.

Jesus, anointed with the Holy Spirit, is the great Healer of both souls and bodies. He “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). He brings relief from illness with a single word, a simple touch. Physical and emotional healings are powerful signs that the Kingdom of God has indeed drawn near, in the Person of Christ. His Blessed Mother is the one who continually reminds us where healing may be found, and who mercifully intercedes for us with her Son. It is in this sense that she is called upon as the “health of the sick.” Innumerable miraculous cures and healings have been attributed to her intercession, especially at the great shrines of Christendom. When those who follow merely human wisdom, or the medical knowledge gained from empirical evidence, see no hope for a cure, we can always entrust ourselves to the deeper wisdom of our Ioreth (“old woman”), the Mother of God.

Prayer

O Mother of Mercy,
be the succour and support of all the poor afflicted,
the consolation of those who mourn, the remedy of the sick,
I beseech you, O Mary.
You who are the beloved daughter of God the Father,
the Immaculate Mother of God the Son, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit,
you, whom the archangel hailed as full of grace,
be our advocate, ask for mercy for sinners.

O Mary, be the star that guides me, my light in the darkness,
my courage in adversity and my refuge in pain.

O Mary, full of compassion, O my Mother, never forsake me.
Through your intercession, may I soon share in your happiness in the ecstasy of the Angels and Saints.

O Virgin! purer than Heaven, protect me, protect my beloved family,
protect all your children, fill us with your favours,
adorn us with your virtues.
You are our advocate, ask for mercy for your poor sinners.

Ven. Marthe Robin

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Little children, and adults who have learned childlike ways, never hesitate to ask good things from their mother. They don’t overcomplicate things by prejudging whether their request is worthy of being granted. They simply ask, in any and all circumstances. And it gladdens their mother’s heart to see them ask with confidence. Let’s approach our Mother with the same childlike simplicity, for those in our lives who are afflicted in body and mind, or for ourselves.

To Go Deeper