St. Holbytla’s Monastery

Reading Tolkien in the Light of Faith

Posts Tagged ‘Aragorn

The line of Nimloth the Fair and the Shoot of Jesse

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The finding of the sapling of the Eldest of the Trees in the barren slopes is a metaphor for the finding the race of Elendil in the barren wilderness outside of Gondor:

Then Aragorn turned, and there was a stony slope behind him running down from the skirts of the snow; and as he looked he was aware that alone there in the waste a growing thing stood.  And he climbed to it, and saw that out of the very edge of the snow there sprang a sapling tee no more than three foot high.  Already it had put forth young leaves long and shapely, dark above and silver beneath, and upon its slender crown it bore one small cluster of flowers whose white petals shone like the sunlit snow.

Then Aragorn crid: ‘Ye! Utuvienyes!  I have found it!  Lo!  here is a scion of the Eldest of Trees!  But how comes it here?  For it is not itself yet seven years old.’

And Gandalf coming looked at it, and said: ‘Verily this is a sapling of the line of Nimloth the fair; and that was a seedling of Galathilion, and that a fruit of Telperion of many names, Eldest of Trees.  Who shall say how it comes here in the appointed hour?  But this is an ancient hallow, and ere the kings failed or the Tree withered in the court, a fruit must have been set here.  For it is said that, though the fruit of the Tree comes seldom to ripeness, yet the life within may then lie sleeping through many long years, and none can foretell the time in which it will awake.  remember this.  For if ever a fruit ripens, it should be planted, lest the line die out of the world.  Here it has lain hidden on the mountain, even as the rade of Elendil lay hidden in the wastes of the North.  Yet the line of Nimloth is older far than your line, King Elessar.’ (Return of the King, p. 270)

In a similar way, Prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of the Messiah, the heir of the throne of David, as a shoot from the stump of Jesse:

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.  The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,  and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. (Is 11:1-5)

The Shoot of Jesse is Christ.  It is on him that the Holy Spirt rested on the River Jordan.  Just as Aragorn traces his kingship to the line of Elendil, so does Christ trace his kingship in the line of David:

Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David the king. David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, ….. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.

Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations. (Mt 1:1-17)

But unlike Aragorn, Jesus’s true father is not his foster father Joseph, but God the Father Himself.  Before Abraham was, Jesus is.  “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God” (Jn 1:1).  Indeed, Jesus posed the following question to the Pharisees:

“What is your opinion about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They replied, “David’s.” He said to them, “How, then, does David, inspired by the Spirit, call him ‘lord,’ saying: ‘The Lord said to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet”‘? If David calls him ‘lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. (Mt 22:42-46)

Written by Quirino M. Sugon Jr

November 30, 2009 at 2:39 am

Gondor’s custom of looking westward before meals: Gloria Patri and the Salvation History

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The men of Gondor has the following custom before meals:

Before they ate, Faramir and all his men turned and faced west in a moment of silence.  Faramir signed to Frodo and Sam that they should do likewise.

‘So we always do,’ he said, as they sat down: ‘ we look towards Numenor that was, and beyond to Elvenhome that is, and beyond Elvenhome and will ever be.  Have you no such custom at meat?  (Two Towers p. 320)

Was, is, will ever be.  These words recall the prayer Gloria Patri or the Glory Be to the Father:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.

The Numenorians divide their history only into three ages.  The First Age is the Age of the Elves which ended with the overthrow of Morgoth.  The Second Age is the Age of the Numenorians which ended with the overthrow of Sauron, and the taking of the One Ring.  The Third Age is the War of the Ring which later ended with the destruction of the Ring and the crowning of Aragorn.  Saruman refers to these ages  as the Elder Days, the Middle Days, and the Younger Days.  He said to Gandalf:

The Elder Days are gone.  The Middle Days are passing.  The Younger Days are beginning.  The time of the Elves is over, but our time is at hand: the world of Men, which We must rule.  But we must have power, power to order all things as we will, for that good which only the Wise can see. (Fellowship of the Ring pp. 290-291)

For Catholics, salvation history is also divided into three ages.  The First Age is the Age of God the Father, which is the Old Testament.  The Second Age is the Incarnation of Christ, God the Son, which is told in the Gospels.  The Third Age is the Age of the Holy Spirit and of the Church, starting from the Feast of Pentecost.  This is narrated in the Acts of the Apostles.  The Third Age shall end with the Second Coming of Christ as King who will judge both the living and the dead.

Written by Quirino M. Sugon Jr

October 29, 2009 at 9:38 am

St. Wenceslaus, Aragorn, and Christ: the Army of the Dead

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Last September 28 is the Feast of the St. Wenceslaus (907-935 A.D.), the Good King Wenceslaus, patron Saint of Bohemia and parts of the Czech Republic.  St. Wenceslaus is the subject of many legends (Wikipedia):

There are many legends about King Wenceslaus. An old one claims a huge army of knights sleep inside Blaník, a mountain in the Czech Republic. The knights will wake and under the command of St. Wenceslaus will help the Motherland when it is in ultimate danger (see also King in the mountain legends).

There is a similar great legend in Prague which says that when the Motherland is in danger or in its darkest times and close to ruin, the equestrian statue of King Wenceslaus in Wenceslaus Square will come to life, raise the army sleeping in Blaník, and upon crossing the Charles Bridge his horse will stumble and trip over a stone, revealing the legendary sword of Bruncvík. With this sword, King Wenceslaus will slay all the enemies of the Czechs, bringing peace and prosperity to the land.

These legends are similar to the summoning of Aragorn of the Army of the Dead, as prophesied by Malbeth the Seer, in the days of Averdui, last king at Fornost (Return of the King, pp. 43-44):

Over the land there lies a long shadow,
westward reaching wings of darkness.
The Tower trembles; to the tombs of kings
doom approaches. The Dead awaken;
for the hour is come for the oathbreakers:
at the Stone of Erech they shall stand again
and hear there a horn in the hills ringing.
Whose shall the horn be? Who shall call them
from the grey twilight, the forgotten people?
The heir of him to whom the oath they swore.
From the North shall he come, need shall drive him;
he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead.

Christ, the King of the Living and of the Dead, also went to the Paths of the Dead and preached the Good News to those who died, awaiting the messiah.  As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.478 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.480 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:481 “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.”482 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.483

634 “The gospel was preached even to the dead.”484 The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfilment. This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”485 Jesus, “the Author of life”, by dying destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.” Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades”, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”