St. Holbytla’s Monastery

Reading Tolkien in the Light of Faith

Archive for July 2009

Gollum and Frodo at the Crack of Doom: Warnings of Christ on Hell

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Frodo reached the Crack of Doom but he failed to throw the Ring into the Fire.  Instead, he claimed the Ring for himself.  But Gollum was there.  He fought Frodo for his Precious and in the end got his prize:

Suddenly Sam saw Gollum’s long hands draw upwards to his mouth; his white fangs gleamed, and then snapped as they bit.  Frodo gave a cry, and there he was, fallen upon his knees at the chasm’s edge.  But Gollum, dancing like a mad thing, held aloft the ring, a finger still thrust within its circle.  It shown now as if verily it was wrought of living fire.

‘Precious, precious, precious!’ Gollum cried.  ‘My precious! O my precious!’ and with than, even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell.  Out of the depths came his last wail Precious, and he was gone.

This scene reminds us of the words of Christ on the reality of our soul and the danger of eternal damnation in Hell:

What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? (Mt 16:26)

Gollum gained His Precious–the only thing he worshipped as God.  ‘Precious, precious, precious!’ he cried out as the cherubims cried ”Holy, holy, holy’ before the Lord God in the Book of Revelation (4:8).  But what does it profit Gollum if he gains his Precious, but loses his very life.

Frodo, on the other hand, was spared.  His finger fell into the fire, but he saved himself.  As Christ said in the Book of Matthew:

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. (Mt 5-29-30)

Frodo by himself could not cut off his own finger.  But God allowed the malice of Gollum to work and brought a greater good out of it.   Call it Justice.  Call it Mercy.  Call it Grace.


Written by Quirino M. Sugon Jr

July 24, 2009 at 8:35 am

The shoulder wound of Frodo and Christ

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It is related in the annals of Clairvaux that St. Bernard asked our Lord which was His greatest unrecorded suffering, and Our Lord answered:

I had on My Shoulder, while I bore My Cross on the Way of Sorrows, a grievous Wound, which was more painful than the others, and which is not recorded by men. Honor this wound with thy devotion, and I will grant thee whatsoever thou dost ask through its virtue and merit. And in regard to all those who shall venerate this Wound, I will remit to them all their venial sins, and will no longer remember their mortal sins. (Catholic Online)

Frodo also has a shoulder wound–the wound inflicted by the Witch-King’s blade in Weathertop (6 October 3018):

At that moment Frodo threw himself forward on the ground and he heard himself crying out loud: O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!  At the same time he struck at the feet of his enemy.  A shrill cry rang out in the night; and he felt a pain like a dart of poisoned ice pierce his left shoulder. (Fellowship of the Ring p. 221)

Even a year after, on the 6th of October, as Frodo and company passed through the Ford of Bruinen where the Ringwraiths were washed away by the flood, his pain recurred:

‘Are you in pain, Frodo?’ said Gandalf quietly as he rode by Frodo’s side.

“Well, yes I am,’ said Frodo. ‘It is my shoulder.  The wound aches, and the memory of darkness is heavy on me.  It was a year ago today.’

‘Alas there are some wounds that cannot wholly be cured,’ said Gandalf.

Written by Quirino M. Sugon Jr

July 17, 2009 at 2:57 am

Bombadil and Christ: the First and the Last

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Tom Bombadil is the eldest of the creatures in Middle Earth.  As he himself said to the hobbits:

Eldest, that’s what I am.    Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn.  He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving.  He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights.  When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent.  He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless–before the Dark Lord came from Outside. (Fellowship of the Ring, pp. 148-149)

This description is similar to that of Christ in the Prologue of the Gospel of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Jn 1:1-5)

But Bombadil was only a creature; Christ is God. Bombadil was a spectator; Christ is the maker. Bombadil saw the coming of the Darkness; Christ dispelled the Darkness for He is the Light of the world.

Bombadil and Christ are also both the first and the last:

I think that in the end, if all else is conquered, Bombadil will fall, Last as he was First; and then Night will come. (Glorfindel in the Council of Elrond, Fellowship of the Ring, pp. 298)

I (am) the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. (Rev 21:6)

But Bombadil shall be conquered at last and die; Christ conquered death and lives forever. Bombadil saw the old order pass away; Christ makes all things new.

Written by Quirino M. Sugon Jr

July 8, 2009 at 2:11 am

Aragorn’s crown and the Papal tiara

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Aragorn’s crown is described as follows:

It was shaped like the helms of the Guards of the Citadel, save that it was loftier, and it was all white, and the wings at either side were wrought of pearl and silver in the likeness of the wings of a sea-bird, for it was the emblem of kings who came over the Sea; and seven gems of adamant were set in the circlet, and upon its summit was set a single jewel the light of which went up like a flame. (Return of the King, p. 265)

This description is similar to that of a Papal tiara:

Most of the surviving triple tiaras have the shape of a circular beehive, with its central core made of silver. Some were sharply conical, others bulbous. All tiaras but that of Pope Paul VI were heavily bejewelled. Each tiara was structured in the form of three crowns marked by golden decorations, sometimes in the form of crosses, sometimes in the shape of leaves. Most were topped off by a cross sitting above a monde (globe), representing the universal sovereignty of Christ. (Wikipedia)

When Aragorn received his crown from Faramir, Aragorn said:

Et Eärello Endorenna utúlien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn’ Ambar-metta!

(Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place will I abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world.) (Return of the King p. 265)

Similarly, when a pope is crowned, he is told:

Accipe tiaram tribus coronis ornatam, et scias te esse Patrem Principum et Regnum, Rectorem Orbis, in terra Vicarium Salvatoris Nostri Jesu Christi, cui est honor et gloria in sæcula sæculorum.

(Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art Father of Princes and Kings, Ruler of the World, Vicar of Our Savior Jesus Christ in earth, to whom is honor and glory in the ages of ages.)

Written by Quirino M. Sugon Jr

July 1, 2009 at 9:45 am