Posts Tagged ‘Aragorn’

DF-SC-84-11899Veterans Day is one of those rare holidays that pay homage to the lost virtue of heroism.

Along with our policemen, firefighters, and other public servants who put themselves in harm’s way for our freedom and safety, our men and women in uniform are a sign of contradiction.

Most of us prize subjective contentment as the summum bonum of life.  We pride ourselves on enjoyment and convenience.  So when people — flesh-and-blood human beings just like us — dedicate themselves to complete self-oblation, to the risk of life and limb for a cause higher than themselves…well, we cannot help but admire that, but at the same time it’s hard for us to understand.

Our veterans and those currently serving speak to us of mankind’s greatest potential glory.  For to give oneself away in the service of others and of a higher cause is part of the essence of sainthood, the call to which is universal.


Okay.  So we’re all called to sainthood.  But I want to reflect a little bit on those who are called to a higher degree of sanctity during this life — not for their own glory, but for the good of the multitudes.  The ones I speak of are veterans and warriors indeed, but of a different sort.

I am talking, of course, about the priesthood.  And to expand on my statement, I want to take a look at priestly spirituality as either directly portrayed or vaguely alluded to in three popular works of art:

1. The Lord of the Rings

Jrrt_lotr_cover_designThe priestly character of Aragorn as a ranger comes across a little more clearly in the books than in the movies.  Consider this quote from “The Fellowship of the Ring,” which Aragorn addresses to Boromir, a warrior of the more conventional sort:

If Gondor, Boromir, has been a stalwart tower, we have played another part.  Many evil things there are that your strong walls and bright swords do not stay.  You know little of the lands beyond your bounds.  Peace and freedom, do you say?  The North would have known them little but for us.  Fear would have destroyed them.  But when dark things come from the houseless hills, or creep from sunless woods, they fly from us.  What roads would any dare to tread, what safety would there be in quiet lands, or in the homes of simple men at night, if the Dúnedain were asleep, or were all gone into the grave?

And yet less thanks have we than you.  Travellers scowl at us, and countrymen give us scornful names. “Strider” I am to one fat man who lives within a day’s march of foes that would freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly.  Yet we would not have it otherwise.  If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so.  That has been the task of my kindred, while the years have lengthened and the grass has grown. (pp. 278-279)*

Enough said, right?  I can’t help but think that J.R.R. Tolkien, a devout Catholic, had in mind the priests who raised him as an orphan, who absolved him of his sins, who gave him Our Lord in the Eucharist (Tolkien was a daily communicant), and who lived lives of chastity, prayer, discipline, and service so that Christ’s work may continue to be present in and nourish the world.

Anyway, I’ll be expanding on how this applies to the priesthood in my next two illustrations.

* Tolkien, J.R.R.  The Lord of the Rings: Part One — The Fellowship of the Ring.  New York: Ballantine Books, 1966

P.S. I am assuming this quotation falls under Fair Use laws, as my intention is to comment on it.  But if it in any ways violates copyright law, someone please let me know, and I will promptly either remove it or modify it so that it is shorter.

Images from Wikipedia

For part two, click here.

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