The Lord of the Rings and Lent
It’s March 1st which means it’s time to begin reading The Fellowship of the Ring for Brona’s Hobbit/Lord of the Rings Readalong. In yet another interesting coincidence, today also happens to be the beginning of Lent. The synchronicity of those two events is too intriguing to ignore, and as I reflect on both The Fellowship of the Ring and Lent, I find several significant ways they are related.
Both Are Journeys
First, journey is at the heart of them both. Frodo and Sam set out on a long journey, a journey which will test them to the utmost. Lent, too, is a time of being tested. We enter a spiritual desert, leaving comfortable things behind. During Lent we leave the comfort of our own Shire to enter the wilderness for forty days, just as the Israelites spent forty years in the desert journeying to the promised land.
Both Are About Getting Rid of Evil/Sin
These journeys have a purpose to them. In The Fellowship of the Ring, the One Ring must be destroyed in order for Middle-earth to be at peace. In the forty days of Lent, we try to find the One Habit that needs to be rooted out so that we can be at peace and celebrate Easter with a full heart. What ring do I bear that needs to be carried to Mount Doom and cast into the fire? A ring of Greed? Sloth? Lust? Anger? Pride? Envy?
Both Require Sacrifice
Whether getting rid of the One Ring or getting rid of vices, the task is not easy. It’s an uphill climb for Frodo and company, leaving the Shire, climbing mountains, and fighting deadly enemies. Their journey demands commitment, focus, and plain old hard work. The same is true for our journey through Lent. Lent is a time for increased prayer, fasting from those things that are getting in our spiritual way, and giving alms to those in need. It can be a struggle to keep going, to stay true to our commitments. In fact, if it’s not a struggle, then we probably haven’t discovered what it is that we really need to do for Lent. But the struggle is worth it, and it helps to have a Fellowship.
Both Are Easier with Companions
Frodo does not have to do it alone, and neither do we. The same support and strength that the Fellowship gives to Frodo is available to us during Lent. We do not go it alone. Our family, friends, and religious community are there to pick us up when we fall and give us inspiration to keep going. The more often we attend Mass, Stations of the Cross, and all the other Lenten services that are offered, the more strength we derive from the community.
My Rereading of The Lord of the Rings
As I mentioned in an earlier post, for Brona’s HLOTR Readalong I’ll be reading the Millennium Edition of The Lord of the Rings. In this edition, each of classic trilogy books is divided into two volumes, for a total of six. The first book is called The Ring Sets Out, and it has twelve chapters. My plan is to read three chapters a week and really take my time savoring the story. I don’t have any other goal or intention for this rereading than enjoying the journey. I’m aiming for writing one blog post per week about my reaction to what I’ve read.