Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
This text received the Imprimatur from Bishop Paprocki from Springfield who has written several catechesis texts himself. Tolkien’s story, The Lord of the Rings, touches the soul in a profound way. Why is that? What makes the heroes so attractive? Can we ever become like them? The power to be strong and valiant is not limited to Middle Earth. We have been given the same tools and gifts that they are offered if we but recognize them. The rings of power in our society tempt us and our children as well. We would be wise if we awakened to that which tries our souls. Take a look at this classic from a Christian perspective, and you might bring Middle earth a little bit closer to home. In each character in The Lord of the Rings, it is as if we can see the various struggles each p0erson on this Earth must grapple with in order to advance to that state of perfection which our Lord calls us to as sons and daughters of God. It is in the development or the abandonment of the practice of Christian virtues that each character ascends into greatness or descends into madness and evil. In the prudent justice of Bilbo, the wise fortitude of Frodo, and the faithful hope of Sam, so each of us is called to reflect on our own lives the virtues we practice or ignore, and the meaning of our existence.
There will come a day and there will be a place in which all secrets of the world will be revealed and the great battles of good and evil each one of us has had to face will be known and revered for what they truly are. In every sincere act of love toward our own best self, toward our family and friends, toward the world at large and most of all toward the One who is our all, we make the transformation from servant to family member happen. We come into union with the God who made us.
These simple reflections of an extraordinary story gives us time to pause and ponder the purpose of our existence and the greatness of the adventure we all experience on this journey called life. We may not bear the ring of power, but in the depth of each of us we carry a soul that is called to live forever with the hidden Lord. It is He who carries us to the mountain top and asks us on a daily basis to practice the virtues which give us the strength to bear the rings of power which haunt our Earthly lives. It is He who humbled Himself even to being born as one of us. I t is He who set us the perfect example of all the virtues, most especially of love in which He offered Himself on a cross to pay for our sins.
In the end, it was Frodo’s mercy which allowed Golum to live and in that virtue he saved himself from himself. Sam’s faithfulness and abiding love carried the weight of the struggle and yet brought forth the new life which would carry on the journey of the Hobbit race. In the Lord of the Rings there was only one right of power whereas we struggle in a world that is inundated with trials and tribulations leading to great variety of evils. Bit in this world, the power that guides us may be hidden bit He has a name, a name above every other name. And we have our own fellowships, broken or not, Through the goodness of the One we are blessed to know with the very same gifts of virtues and the fruits that Fredo, Sam Gandalf, Aragorn and all the rest carried; the gifts of virtues and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. May we look at the gifts and fruits and see in them the antidote which the evil temptations beset us. May we drive back the dark things, which want to come into our world and make it a place of dread. May we be strong enough to throw the evil rings away and bring forth the fruit of new life.
The Lord of the Rings was a profound book on many levels and Frailey touched but some of the spiritual aspects. There are those much better qualified to amplify or deepen the threads which the author has touched upon. Yet the grace received while considering just these points have mentioned have been tremendous. Our lives are enriched by such musings and it is good to take the time to consider what we watch, read and with whom we speak, in terms of how much they draw us towards the greatest good of our lives. We must take time out during our busy lives and consider the place that God has in our lives. Tolkien’s gift was that he never had to even mention God’s name yet we are drawn with his charming writing skills towards thoughts of God and His creation Tolkien ended his great work with Sam returning to his home and family. It was a beautiful ending It is what we all want in our deepest longing. We want to be home with our family. It will be the best home in the universe and our family will be far more wonderful than any we have ever experienced here on this Earth. It is worthy practicing the virtues until we are exhausted. It is worth turning away from the temptations of every sin. It is worth living for. It is worth dying for.