Mae govannen, readers!
Yes, two posts in less than two months! *Gasp!* (See, miracles still happen.) Peculiar title, isn’t it? Today’s post is actually not entirely my own genius. I was talking with a friend the other day and after our conversation, he came to me with this idea and he asked me to share it here. I thought it was truly brilliant. You can comment below and let me know what you think, and I will tell him.
This post is about a few of the most important places in Middle-earth and how they are reflections of the three theological virtues – faith, hope, and charity.
One last note: My friend, being less grammatically inclined than I, has asked me to make whatever punctual or grammatical corrections are necessary. There will be a few slight changes in these areas from the original work. Otherwise, his words are in quotations and my comments and additional notes are not.
On to the post!
“Rohan is the virtue of Faith. The Rohirrim have faith in their king during the hard times in the War of the Third Age. They have faith because they trust in each other, knowing that they will have each other’s support. They have faith knowing that they can do what needs to be done and that they will do it together with a good man at their head, for an even greater goal.”
This greater goal is the salvation of Middle-Earth. The Rohirrim place great trust in each other, as brothers- and comrades-in-arms. Each man has complete confidence that he and his companions will fight with courage and honor to the end, and never abandon a warrior in need. Each man knows that he can rely on the others. These warriors have the courage and confidence to believe that together they will prevail against the enemy in the East. They are united in faith, a shield against the darkness of Mordor. Led by Eomer, the Rohirrim are a fierce torch of faith, marching against Sauron in the defense of Middle-Earth.
We are the warriors on this earth, fighting the darkness of Satan. We are the “rebellion”, the group cast out from our own people for refusing to follow the corrupt rule of a society of death. But the Rohirrim are faithful to their country, faithful to their cause, and faithful to each other. If anything, they bind more closely together through their trials and battles. They refuse to give in to the falsehood that “all is well”, for all is not well. Sauron is coming, and he intends to destroy all that is good. The Rohirrim know this and they do not hesitate to come to arms in the defense of the lands and peoples of Middle-earth. The Rohirrim are a stubborn, hardy, courageous people. Because of their faith in each other and in their leader, Eomer – the Pope – they stand firm, almost defiantly, against the evils of Mordor. They hold true to what they know is right. They fight with faith.
“Gondor is the virtue of hope, for the people of Gondor continue to keep hope alive. Because their steward Denethor succumbs to despair, Boromir, Faramir, and all the people of Gondor begin to lose hope as well. The soldiers are weary of fighting and very few men are left to reinforce the depleted army. However, they rally to the king of Gondor in the hour of need, when their doom approaches from all directions. The people look to Aragorn, son of Arathorn, as their lasting hope, as the Catholic Church looks to Jesus Christ for salvation. The hope of the citizens and soldiers of Gondor keeps the White City alive, just as the virtue of hope helps us to keep sight of Heaven.”
Gondor is on the very border between darkness and light. The people of Gondor are the first battle line, the first defense within sight of the dark mountains of Mordor. As Sauron’s strength grows, they witness the evil of his power and his destruction, stretching out like a shadow from the Dark Tower. The people of Gondor have been fighting the longest … but too long have they lived under the looming shadow of evil. The smog and corruption of Mordor is creeping up to their very gates. They are besieged by darkness, trapped in their own great city. The men are weary, stretched to their limits, and every day fewer come back. Hope seems to be fading quickly. Then Denethor the steward, in his pride, finally succumbs to despair. He abandons his people in their hour of need. All seems lost.
But their king has come: Aragorn, son of Arathorn, true King of Gondor and its last, true hope. He has the aid of Boromir, who fought nobly and, though tempted, gave his life in defense of the hobbits and died honorably; he has the aid of Faramir in his post in the wilderness; and the help of the people of Gondor. With courage and vigilance, Aragorn battles the darkness and keeps the flame of hope alive, and he inspires his people to do the same. The White City is a small, bright beacon, burning against the vast darkness and evil of Mordor. Small, yes – but hope is still alive. The King has returned, and he will not abandon his people nor lead them to the darkness of despair. Through their hope, the people of Gondor keep the White City alive, and they prevail.
Christ our Lord has suffered torment and death, has given His Body and shed His Blood, to redeem us. This is our true hope. Our beacon of hope, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant, is enormous. It is enormous because it is there. No matter how tiny it may seem, a small candle practically swallowed in the darkness, it is still there. That is all that matters. And as long as it exists, it can grow brighter. Christ is our light, our beacon, our hope. “… and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it …” Hope springs eternal.
“And fittingly the Shire is charity. The serenity of the meadows, the forests, and the fields have a peaceful air about them, as God has. We can turn to Him with any of our troubles and He will welcome us with open arms. The Shire’s peaceful ponds, hills, and homes are a welcoming sight for those who find themselves there. Who knows? Heaven may be just as the Shire is – a home at the end of our journey. It is easy to become fond of the Little People, once you have a mind for their ways. At the end of the War of the Ring the Shire is overcome by “Sharky” – the fallen wizard Saruman. Merry, Pippin, Frodo, and Sam return to a Shire that is slowly being destroyed. They find that they have lost their fields and forests, their old roads, their homes, and even some of their dear friends to the evil that has ensnared the Shire. If we let our charity slip away, as all the Hobbits let Saruman destroy the heart of the Shire, we lose our home. We lose the people, the places, and the things that could have helped us. Another point to make here is about the killing of Saruman. Evil knows no compassion, and the wicked and selfish deeds of the evil catch up to them in the end. Wormtongue attacks Saruman and kills him. The consequences of the merciless, selfish deeds that Saruman committed finally return to him through Wormtongue. Through trials the Hobbits retake the Shire and through labor they regain the beauty of the home that they remember and love. Showing charity in our lives in each situation will increase our love of God, love of neighbor and the love of what we can do to make our souls and the souls of others better.”
The Shire is charity – the completion and fruit of all other virtues. Charity is the eternal virtue of Heaven, our true end, the aim of all our labors. To have charity of heart is literally to “bring Heaven to earth”. Saruman in his selfishness opposes charity. He knows no compassion. His servants are loyal out of fear, and they loathe and hate their master even as they obey him. Wormtongue seizes his opportunity to end Saruman, who pays a heavy price for his selfish ambition. Selfishness (self-love) is the antithesis of charity (love of God, love of others). Through Saruman’s selfishness the Shire was corrupted; through our own selfishness, the “Shire” of charity in our hearts is corrupted. We need courage, faith and hope to fight against corruption and repair the damage done to our souls through our selfishness. The Hobbits, unaware and then afraid of Saruman, do nothing to oppose him until Frodo and company return. They rally the other Hobbits and together, as a united force, they overthrow Saruman’s hold in the Shire. We are called to do the same.
This world is not a safe place; like Middle-Earth, we suffer from the threat of darkness. Every day there seems less cause for hope, less reason to hold the faith. It is in these desperate times that the virtues of faith, hope, and charity are needed the most. We are called to have the faith of the Rohirrim, those brave warriors who together faced death fearlessly. We need to keep alive the hope of Gondor, the White City, the last beacon in the east, burning bright in the darkness. But most importantly – “A true warrior does not fight because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” (G.K. Chesterton) In all our battles, we must remember and keep in our hearts the love and longing for the Shire – Heaven, our true home. It is from and also for this ultimate goal that we draw strength; this charity is the beginning and the end, the seed and the fruit of our labors. We are called to keep it alive and well-defended from corruption.
The Lord of the Rings may be a mere “work of fiction”, but in many ways it is more real and more profound than almost any other literary work. Tolkien understood the underlying truth of the invisible battles that we wage every day. This truth was woven into his life’s work. We and our world have more in common with Middle-Earth and its peoples, than with any other book – Harry Potter, Percy Jackson … the world in LotR is more real to us than any of these, because it touches more profoundly on the truth beneath the outward appearances, the soul that we cannot see with mortal eyes.
I know this may have been a terribly long post, but I hope it was worth the read.
Namarie, readers – may the faith, hope, and charity of Middle-Earth grow in us and spread to others. Pro gloria Dei!
In Pace Christi,
Pippin of the Shire