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Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Lenten Mediation: In the Shadow of Mordor

I'm listening to a radio dramatization of The Lord of the Rings and am finding it an invitation to Lenten meditation. The evil Lord of the East, Sauron (Satan), attacks the West seeking the one ring of power forged in Mordor. He would be the Lord of the world ruling over all through the power of the ring, a dark power that corrups all who use it.

The world of Middle Earth sounds very much like our own time with darkness coming over all the land. Evil riders in black scour the land doing Sauron's bidding. In many places the land has been scorched. The peoples of Middle Earth live more and more in fear of the growing threat.

And who is chosen to lead a quest to destroy the power of Sauron? The wizards and elves with their magical powers? The dwarves with their skill at weaponry and war? The human kings with their armies? No, the "hero" of the tale is Frodo, a hobbit. It's he, the simple soul from the Shire (the Garden of Eden?), who becomes the ring bearer and hope of Middle Earth. (The Lord chooses the simple to confound the wise.) The life of hobbits is simple. They love hearth and home -- their gardens, food and fellowship, a good pipe after dinner filled with the excellent "weed" grown in the Shire. They excel at friendship and appreciate the gifts of God so evident in the natural world.

There is so much in the story that provides food for thought: the nature of faithfulness and loyalty especially shown in the friendship of Sam for Frodo, the reality of sin and temptation and its struggle within us so aptly shown in the character of Gollum/Smeagol, the need for patience and perseverance in our daily journey despite its difficulties which we see so bravely in Frodo's bearing of the evil ring as it grows heavier and heavier around his neck. (Might we see that as the burden of our own sins?)

Tolkien had so much to share with us, and the Christian nature of his work is obvious from the very beginning when Bilbo and Frodo celebrate their joint birthdays. Frodo is 33, the age of Christ when He died. Bilbo is 111. Their ages add up to 144, a perfect number in Biblical numerology. Every page of the work invites us to reflect on the serious issues of life: love, hate, temptation, courage, humility -- they are all there.

Lent is all about overcoming evil in our lives and moving closer to Christ. The fellowship of the ring shows how important others are in our lives to help us accomplish that goal. During Lent, I hope to draw closer to Jesus with the help of others and grow in strength for the journey. Our quest is to overcome evil with good. Frodo is a Christ figure, but no Savior, as he succumbs to the evil power of the ring. But Frodo and all Middle Earth are saved by the pity he showed for Gollum as the evil creature unwittingly fulfills the quest by wounding the ring bearer, taking the ring, and falling with it into the fires of Mount Doom.

Let our quest this Lent be to draw into a more intimate relationship with Christ, the one true King of the universe. And may we bend the knee to Him and pledge our fealty as soldiers of Christ on the quest to win the world for Him.

May Jesus Christ be praised, now and forever.

4 comments:

Susan Matthiesen said...

For Lent I have restricted myself to NO secular movies on Netflix. I like to watch Poirot, Columbo, Longmire and a few others. Instead there are a lot of RELIGIOUS movies on Netflix.

First I watched ESTHER, then read the Book of Esther in the Bible. Then I watched RUTH, and afterwards read the Book of Ruth. Then I watched DANIEL and will finish reading the last chapter of Daniel in the Bible today. Then I guess I'll watch THE BIBLE and spend the rest of Lent reading the entire Old Testament, although Lent probably won't be long enough to accomplish that!

And...God was good to me...for $3 I found a pristine copy of the 1961 Douay St Joseph Catholic Holy Bible in a thrift shop last weekend. I read that and also use the Internet version of the Haydock Commentary from 1859 for explanations.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

We gave up TV except for Sunday, but I want to watch some saint movies like A Man for All Seasons. The martyrs, particularly, lived the passion of Christ literally. Hugs to you, dear friend. I think of you whenever I'm in a thrift store and see a religious object.

Anonymous said...

From California,

Thank you, Susan Matthiesen, for the information about the on line Haydock Commentary from 1859. I have the Douay Rheims already among my collection of Bibles. Some of the commentaries in the new ones would make one lose ones faith they are so bad.

*~JennD.'J.M.J.'~* said...

Greetings in Christ! :) I must admit to being a new reader of your blog but I must also say how impressed I am!
My name is Jennifer & I have loved the story of The Hobbit and The Trilogy of the Ring for more than 50 years...I can't tell you how many times I have read it!! lol
The parallels between our own Catholic journey in life and Tolkien's tale, so expertly told, are so evident throughout it's no wonder the man is considered a genius, truly gifted as a storyteller AND a grace-filled Catholic all his life.
Your ending "Praise be to Jesus Christ, now and forever" made me smile. This is the beginning to every Holy Mass at our parish, Ss Cyril & Methodius, just before the Priest walks down the aisle...a little bit of home, you might say... ;)
Thanks for the excellent analogy ~ I only wish I could have listened to the radio when that was on...had I known, I'm sure I would have tuned in!!
Peace ~ and my Greetings to your Holy Angel. ~ Jennifer DeFillippo.