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.
1 Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing;
You reign now in splendor with Jesus, our King.
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]
- 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
- Harp of Glory: An African Akathist