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 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
- 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.