“’And you, Ringbearer’ she said, turning to Frodo. ‘I come to you last who are not last in my thoughts. For you I have prepared this.’ She held up a small crystal phial: it glittered as she moved it and rays of white light sprang from her hand. ‘In this phial,’ she said,’ is caught the light of Earendil’s star, set amid the waters of my fountain. It will shine still brighter when night is about you. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, as the Fellowship prepares to leave Lothlórien, Galadriel grants each member a gift that she knows will benefit them along their journey. And to Frodo, she provides a vial (or ‘phial,’ (those weird British spellings…)) of the light of Eärendil, a star from Elvish lore. She tells Frodo that this light will provide light for him whenever he finds himself lost in the darkness of the world around him. The light of Eärendil lights up his surroundings when he cannot seem to find his way. The light of this star was said to shine brighter than any other star. While Galadriel was a co-ruler of Lothlórien (the Elvish haven away from the evil emanating from the darkness of Mordor) and the ‘Lady of Light,’ Frodo still remained a mere hobbit, seen as one of the lowest of creatures because they were rarely looked upon, from the Shire, a small rural town out of the way of anything that happened in the world. For Galadriel to give Frodo the light of Eärendil would seem almost like an insult to the sacredness of the star. But the last thing that someone would do is undermine the authority and wisdom of the ‘Lady of the Golden Wood.’ The Lady Galadriel was known throughout all of Middle Earth for her wisdom, purity, and incomparable beauty. While very few people were graced with the opportunity to behold her beauty, all knew of her divine elegance and of the blessed gift it was for the Fellowship to gaze upon her countenance.
The Virgin Mary, Mother of God, has been known as “Blessed” as far back as when the Lord Jesus was conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit. Throughout all of Tradition, she has been known for her purity, for her true intimacy with God, and for her beauty. Nothing could compare to the beauty of the Blessed Virgin, because she was free from all sin. There was neither stain on her soul from Original Sin, nor from her own doing. She had the Supernatural Life within her, that life that God desires for each and every one of us. While God desires perfection for us, Mary had achieved and sustained that perfection throughout all of her life.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he greeted her by saying, “Hail, full of grace!” For those of you that do not know what grace is, grace is God’s very life given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Grace is a gift. There is nothing that we can do throughout all of our lives that would deserve the gift of grace. Grace is the Supernatural Life of God within us. And by proclaiming that Mary was full of grace, Gabriel was proclaiming that truth that Mary had within her all grace. There was no part of her not touched by the grace of God. She was so filled with the grace of God, the Supernatural Life of God, that there is no way that she could have had any more. By giving all of His grace to Mary, God is granting Mary the ability to give the grace to whomever she sees fit. And Mary, free of sin, remains one of our models for perfection – the other obviously being Christ. And so God grants Mary the blessing of all of His grace, that she may grant that grace to whomever she believes and knows to be worthy of God’s life within them.
Now, faith is not something of human origin. We could not arrive at faith on our own. While we may arrive at certainty in God’s belief through reason alone, we cannot even believe with that faith if it were not given to us from above. Faith is a gift from God. Faith results from God desiring for our assent to him. We only have faith because God wants us to have faith. Throughout our lives, we always encounter different kinds of darkness. Whether it is times of sadness from loss, or times of confusion from things that the world is telling us, life can often be filled with darkness. As my dear friend Westley says, “Life is pain… Anyone who says differently is selling something” (The Princess Bride). Everyone knows that there is darkness in this world. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is trying to sell you something, whether that be products, or ideas, or values. While everyone will inevitably experience darkness during this life, we have a foolproof method to bring light into the darkness: faith. Faith helps us to see the clichéd ‘silver lining.’ Faith helps us to understand that God has a bigger and better plan for us. Faith helps us to sift through the lies of this world in order to discover the truth that is found in God, Creator of the Universe. Faith is man’s acceptance of God’s gift to allow us to see the truth, HIS truth upon which the world is based. Faith is when man puts his trust in the Lord so that he may abide in the truth.
Because faith is a gift from God, because faith is a grace, Mary is given the duty to grant us the grace and the faith that we need. Just as Galadriel gives Frodo the light of Eärendil that he needs, Mary gives each of us the faith that we need. Frodo, a hobbit, is seen as just a lowly creature of very little importance. He really did nothing to deserve the gift of the light of Eärendil. But Galadriel still gives him that gift nonetheless, because she knows that he needs it and believes that he will use it. Each and every one of us can see ourselves in Frodo’s place. We are just lowly creatures, of very little importance, and who screw up A LOT. And I mean, A LOT. Sometimes I wonder: Can we do anything right? But I digress. We are just lowly servants of God; we are nothing really special. And yet Mary sees something in us. She knows that we live in a dark, dark world, a world where the light seems to be nonexistent at times. Mary grants us the light of faith to survive in that darkness. We are not perfect. We often put ourselves in difficult and dangerous situations, just as Frodo does. But if we can learn to use that light of faith well, we can light up the caves we wander through and fight off our own personal Shelobs. We all have them. We just need to learn how to use our light of Eärendil. God gives us that light; why not use it?
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