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With groggy, glazed-over eyes, King Théoden muttered “Gandalf…?” upon seeing his old friend. In J.R.R. Tolkein’s masterpiece, and in Peter Jackson’s impressive film adaptation, there is something of an exorcism, a quasi-resurrection, in the reawakening of Théoden, King of Rohan. He had forgotten his origin, his dignity, his destiny. And the White Wizard’s power returned it to him, and he once again could lead and defend his people, noble to the point of giving his life on the battlefield. But first, he needed to remember…
Last night, during the Easter Vigil, Pope Francis, (our High Priest in white,) spoke of the women hastening early to the tomb. They are surprised by the novelty of it all, they are afraid by the newness of the situation.
“They don’t find the body of the Lord. It is a fact that leaves them perplexed, doubtful, full of questions: ‘What’s going on?’, ‘What meaning does this have?’ (cf Luke 24:4) Doesn’t the same thing perhaps happen to us, when something truly new happens in the events of our daily lives? We stop, we don’t understand, we don’t know how to react to it. Novelty often scares us, even the newness God brings, the newness He asks of us.”
There is an announcement that Jesus is Alive, but the women’s first reaction is still fear. They gaze upon the ground. And His Holiness goes on to tell us that he wishes to underline one important aspect, a key verb in the message of the two men clothed in white: Remember! “Remember how He told you, when He was still in Galilee…” (Luke 24:6)
“To call to mind what God has done for me, for us, to call to mind the path we have trod. This opens our heart to hope for the future. Let’s learn to call to mind again what God has done in our lives!”
We live in a world that has forgotten its origin, its dignity, its destiny. We walk amidst men and women, images of God, who have forgotten the loftiness of their true heavenly home. There are voices whispering in our ears, like Grima Wormtongue in Théoden’s ear, and we have to banish them.
When too many of us forget, our culture forgets, and we become a culture that does not recognize the voice of our Shepherd. And we sift through the bones of the dead in search of Him who is Life itself.
On this Easter, let us remember the Faith of our fathers, living still, in spite of dungeon, fire and sword. Let us remember the countless times our Faith has prevailed in the history of our culture and in our own personal histories.
Times are coming, and are already here, when we will be called upon to defend our Faith, like our forefathers did.
Awakened by the words of our powerful Pontiff, powerful in truth and powerful in humble service, let us call to mind that our origin, dignity and destiny are all from God and for God.
And He is not God of the dead, but of the Living; ultimate victory is assured to those who charge under his almighty banner.
Fey he seemed, or the battle-fury of his fathers ran like new fire in his veins, and he was borne up on Snowmane like a god of old.
—Tolkien’s description of Théoden charging the orcs