Model of Consecration: Faramir

Meditation of the Day

In a footnote to a draft letter to an unidentified “Mr Thompson” (Letter 180), Tolkien lets slip the confidence that of all his characters, he identifies most strongly with Faramir: “As far as any character is ‘like me’ it is Faramir – except that I lack what all my characters possess (let the psychoanalysts note!) Courage.” We should expect to see in Faramir, then, the embodiment of the highest religious and moral aspirations that Tolkien, as Sub-creator, wished to communicate through his myth-making and storytelling.

There are several ways in which Faramir is unique among the characters of The Lord of the Rings. The most notable is that of all the great leaders we encounter in the story, he is the only one who experiences no temptation to appropriate the One Ring. “I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory” (Bk4 Ch5). Although even Galadriel and Gandalf, wisest and noblest of the Wise, experience some vulnerability to the Ring’s seductive power, Faramir does not. He is absolutely free of self-seeking. Unlike his brother Boromir, he has no desire for glory, and no love for warfare, although he is a supremely skilled warrior and leader of men. Faramir’s absence of personal ambition is epitomized in his first words to Aragorn, upon awaking from his sickness: “My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?” (Bk5 Ch8).

A second distinguishing feature is that Faramir and his men are the only characters who are shown recognizably praying: “Before they ate, Faramir and all his men turned and faced west in a moment of silence. Faramir signed to Frodo and Sam that they should do likewise. ‘So we always do,’ he said, as they sat down: ‘we look towards Númenor that was, and beyond to Elvenhome that is, and to that which is beyond Elvenhome and will ever be'” (Ibid.). Although this Standing Silence is only a simple grace before meals, and comprises no spoken words, it is noteworthy in a work that deliberately omits any reference to overt religious practice. We also observe the same tripartite temporal reference—to what was, what is, and what will be—that characterized Galadriel’s practice of contemplation. Faramir is a pure Númenórean not only in his flesh but in “spirit and truth” (John 4:23).[1]

A third unusual trait in Faramir is that his depth of learning and maturity of judgment have been acquired in a very short time: he is only in his thirty-sixth year, making him younger than all the hobbits in the Fellowship except Pippin. He speaks and acts as a ruler or loremaster with decades of experience, as one who would be welcome in the circle of the Wise. There must be a secret to this exceptional wisdom.

What illuminates all these unique features of Faramir’s character is the Biblical principle that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). Here is the secret to his exceptional wisdom: “I understand more than the ancients, / Because I keep Your precepts” (Psalm 119:100). It is his piety and moral integrity that have allowed Wisdom to pervade his mind and heart. We get glimpses of his virtue in various brief remarks he makes to Frodo and Sam: “I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood”; “I do not slay man or beast needlessly, and not gladly even when it is needed. Neither do I talk in vain.” We may conclude that, long before meeting Éowyn, his “woman of valour” (Prov. 31:10), and being the catalyst for her transformation into a radiant icon of the Mother of Christ, Faramir was wedded to Lady Wisdom (see Prov. 3:13-18; 9:1-6).

Prayer

What shall bring me forward in the narrow way, as I live in the world, but the thought and patronage of Mary? What shall seal my senses, shall tranquilize my heart, when sights and sounds of danger are around me but Mary? What shall give me patience and endurance, when I am wearied out with the length of the conflict with evil, with the unceasing necessity of precautions, with the irksomeness of observing them, with the tediousness of their reception, with the strain upon my mind, with my forlorn and cheerless condition, but a loving communion with you!

You will comfort me in my discouragements, solace me in my fatigues, raise me after my falls, reward me for my successes. You will show me your Son, my God and my all. When my spirit within me is excited, or relaxed, or depressed, when it loses its balance, when it is restless and wayward, when it is sick of what it has, and hankers after what it has not, when my eye is solicited with evil and my mortal frame trembles under the shadow of the tempter, what will bring me to myself, to peace and health, but the cool breath of the Immaculate and the fragrance of the Rose of Sharon?

St. John Henry Card. Newman

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • In their encounter with Faramir, Frodo and Sam witness all seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit in operation. It could be a fruitful exercise to pick out the details which reveal each gift, and to ask Our Lady, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, to obtain an increase of them all in us.

To Go Deeper


[1] By tragic contrast, Denethor’s suicide is an act of despair in the theological sense, an apostasy: “No tomb for Denethor and Faramir. No tomb! No long slow sleep of death embalmed. We will burn like heathen kings before ever a ship sailed hither from the West. The West has failed. Go back and burn!”

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).