In this episode, Fr. Gallagher discusses the virtue of joy and the nature of the “heroic romance.” One of the reasons the “Lord of the Rings” resonates with the Christian is because the ending is something joyful. The Gospel is good news and the LOR, ultimately, is filled with that type of good news.
‘Well, sir,’ said Sam dithering a little. ‘I heard a deal that I didn’t rightly understand, about an enemy, and rings, and Mr. Bilbo, sir, and dragons, and a fiery mountain, and – and Elves, sir. I listened because I couldn’t help myself, if you know what I mean. Lor bless me, sir, but I do love tales of that sort. And I believe them too, whatever Ted may say. Elves, sir! I would dearly love to see them. Couldn’t you take me to see Elves, sir, when you go?’
Suddenly Gandalf laughed. ‘Come inside!’ he shouted, and putting out both his arms he lifted the astonished Sam, shears, grass-clippings and all, right through the window and stood him on the floor. ‘Take you to see Elves, eh?’ he said, eyeing Sam closely, but with a smile flickering on his face. ‘So you heard that Mr. Frodo is going away?’ ‘
I did, sir. And that’s why I choked: which you heard seemingly. I tried not to, sir, but it burst out of me: I was so upset.
’ ‘It can’t be helped, Sam,’ said Frodo sadly. He had suddenly realized that flying from the Shire would mean more painful partings than merely saying farewell to the familiar comforts of Bag End. ‘I shall have to go. But’ – and here he looked hard at Sam – ‘if you really care about me, you will keep that dead secret. See? If you don’t, if you even breathe a word of what you’ve heard here, then I hope Gandalf will turn you into a spotted toad and fill the garden full of grass-snakes.’
Sam fell on his knees, trembling. ‘Get up, Sam!’ said Gandalf. ‘I have thought of something better than that. Something to shut your mouth, and punish you properly for listening. You shall go away with Mr. Frodo!’ ‘
Me, sir!’ cried Sam, springing up like a dog invited for a walk. ‘Me go and see Elves and all! Hooray!’ he shouted, and then burst into tears.
Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings (pp. 63-64). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
For more episodes in this series: A “Lord of the Rings” Spiritual Retreat with Fr. Timothy Gallagher
Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life: The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”.