Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Frodo the Priest?

I'm a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien. I think it is one of the best pieces of Catholic Fiction written in the last 100 years, but that is a decidedly narrow opinion.

As I moved through the Seminary and got closer to Ordination, I always found something sympathetic in the character of Frodo, he who was chosen for this task that is much beyond him, he does not know why he was chosen to do it, but he humbly accepts and gives it his all, and the world was changed.

As I couldn't fall asleep last night, I picked up The Fellowship of the Ring again to just page through it. I hadn't really read it since the movies came out, and the amount of detail that Tolkien included that just had to be dumped from the movie is a surprise. There is so much that adds to the richness of the story.

In the second chapter, "The Shadow of the Past," the following few lines really struck me:

'I do really wish to destroy it!' cried Frodo. 'Or, well, to have it destroyed. I am not made for perilous quests. I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?'

'Such questions cannot be answered,' said Gandalf. 'You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and wits as you have.'

How many of us that have responded to a unique call to the priesthood have wrestled with the same question that Frodo wrestled with? Yet his journey is much the same as ours, we are not alone. Yes, there are certain things that we must do ourselves, but I know I have always found the support of friends and family along that way, just as Frodo has the support of friends on his long journey. (Both friends he knew from his youth and companions he met along the way.)

Anyway, I love the books, if you haven't read them, please do so. It is only a thousand or so pages, which isn't long when compared with an Encyclopedia!

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Blessed New Year!


Rich Leonardi said...

Fr. Schnippel,

A number of literary critics have observed that the three main characters in LOTR embody the offices of Christ: Frodo the priest, Gandalf the prophet, and Aragorn the King.

And you might enjoy Peter Kreeft's recent book "The Philosophy of Tolkien," which explores these and other themes. You can find an excerpt here and the audio files to an interesting lecture here.

Father Kyle said...

Thanks for the links, Rich. I've seen a few other things along the years about Tolkien and his Christianity/Catholicism. I've also seen things decrying the lack of good Catholic fiction lately. It seems that the creative minds in the Church (among the laity) are now turing their attention to business rather than literature. While both are important, I miss the writings such as The Lord of the Rings.

Also, for a wonderful rendition of the creation of the world, Tolkien's Similliron (or however it is speelt) is a great, if dense, read.

Anonymous said...

my 17y.o. daughter couldn't read enough Tolkein a few years ago and read the Silmarillion (how do you spell it?) i think it helped gave her a BIG picture understanding of salvation history.