Journey Through Roses & Thorns

Have you ever rooted for a character, wishing you could be there to help them in the hard times and to rejoice with them in the good times? We always give characters we love, sometimes even the ones we don’t always like, that treatment, and for good reason. Though we will never have to travel through Mordor and destroy a ring like Frodo and Sam or have to face a Wicked Witch to get home like Dorothy, we still feel a connection to them. Perhaps it is because we feel like we are going on a journey of our own, perhaps we would like to have an adventure, or perhaps we just like to cozy up by the fire with a good book. Whatever the case may be, adventures and stories of journeys have fascinated us for many years, whether fictional or historical. In this article, I’ll be talking about one story in particular in comparison to Frodo’s own journey. It is a history to many, but some think it is mere fiction. No matter what, it follows the basic guidelines of a good story; though one could argue this story wrote those guidelines; comprising of joyful youth, sorrowful resolution, and a glorious victory.

Many people tend to overlook the beginning of the story, noting that the more important parts take place later, but that is not true. In order to appreciate what happens later, one must take into account at what happened first, what I will call the joyful youth. Take into account Frodo before he left for Mordor, he was a happy, go-lucky, even mischievous lad who longed for an adventure similar to his uncle’s, a wish that was soon granted. But what of this one story I was referring to, what exactly is its joyful youth? Well, to be honest, not only is it a story, but it feels like a journey every single time, it is the Rosary. Yes, yes, you can say that it is basically the Bible, but the Rosary only focuses on certain events in the lives of Jesus and Mary, not all of them, that’s what the Bible is for, but the most important ones. As for the joyful youth, well, one has to look no farther than to the Joyful Mysteries; a young Mary asked by God via Gabriel to be the Mother of His only-begotten Son in the Annunciation, her charity and humility shining like the sun in The Visitation to St. Elizabeth, the wonder and awe surrounding The Nativity of her Son, sweet obedience fulfilling the old laws at the Presentation, and the pure, joyous relief at Finding her Son in the Temple after three agonizing days of searching. There was a bit of sorrow involved, as to be expected in day-to-day life, but as with every beginning to every good story, the call to adventure is followed by the first steps of the journey. These steps are important, but they are not as big as the steps of the next part of the story, nor are the sorrows as hard or as deep. So, how then can this even be considered a joyful youth if there is some sorrow involved? That’s easy, a stubbed toe or a scraped knee is easier to get over than learning about having cancer or losing a loved one. The little, day-by-day problems are easily forgotten as life continues on, much like finding Jesus in the Temple. Sure, He had been gone for three whole days, but the joy and relief of finding Him quickly overcame the worry of those three days. The next time something like this happens, it will not be so easy and will require something more to overcome the pain.

With every step closer to Morder, Frodo finds the ring getting heavier, his lungs filling with short, raspy breaths, and his feet becoming like lead. The pain becomes almost unbearable, yet he valiantly pushes onward, he has taken up this burden, he is determined to see it through to the end, no matter what that end may mean for him. Like Jesus Christ, he takes his cross up a mountain, where he plans to sacrifice himself, if necessary, for the good of all. But that is where the similarities end for, unlike Christ, he did not actually die. And there are other differences, as noted in the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary; Jesus’ Agony in the Garden, His Scourging at the Pillar, His Crown of Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross, and His Crucifixion. These Mysteries note just how excruciatingly painful Christ’s journey really was, but at first glance, it seems that there’s something missing. Where is our Lady, who, in the first section, was such an important part? Have no fear, she is there, hidden in the sidelines, preferring to stay quiet so that we may focus on her Son, to understand what He is doing out of love for us. She was not present in the events of the first three Mysteries, but she does follow Him as He carried His cross, and stood silent and still as she watched the life of her beloved Son, her God, fade away before her eyes. Though it felt like seven swords had pierced her heart from all the pain, the cruelty, and the torment that Christ had to go through, she shed not a single tear. How could she? Her sorrow was so intense, so deep, that the shedding of a thousand tears from a thousand eyes would never have sufficed. In fact, her pain was so intense that it would have killed a normal person, but by the grace of God, she lived on. And Christ knew this, making His suffering almost unbearable, seeing that sorrow in His mother’s eyes. But they had resolved to see this through, and see it through they will until, at last, after three hours of suffering, Christ is laid in the sepulcher, the world breathless with anticipation for what would happen next.

We all know what happens to Frodo after he destroys the ring; he and Sam are saved from the fires of Mount Doom and are given the grandest, hero’s welcome any hero could receive, and straight from the hands of the new king himself. They return to the Shire, and after a few years, Frodo leaves for the Undying Lands, as he tells Sam, he is not as whole as his friend. But after such an ordeal, with a heavy burden, it is almost expected that Frodo hasn’t fully healed, he is, after all, only a mortal. Christ, on the other hand, has fully healed; He is God after all, with His Wounds open to the world as proof of His unending, unyielding love for us. While His glorious victory might not seem as grand, per say, as Frodo’s, His was, you could say, more miraculous and had a more powerful impact. And it doesn’t end there, as we can tell from the Glorious Mysteries; His triumphant Resurrection, His Ascension, sending the Holy Ghost to the Apostles, bringing His Immaculate Mother to Heaven with her Assumption, and crowning her Queen of His Kingdom. His Mother, who shared everything silently with Him in His joyous youth and sorrowful Passion, now shares with Him in His glorious victory. And what better title for this pure and gentle Mother of God to earn than the Queen to Christ as King? What better, surer way to Christ than to be lead gently to Him by the hand of His mother? She knows what please Him the most, just like every mother knows her son the best. And every son wishes to please his mother, so you can be sure Christ will take into account what our Lady says, just like at the wedding of Cana (which can be found in the Luminous Mysteries). Where there is one, the other is not far behind, and when you come across the other, the one will be known shortly after.

That is the Rosary, the journey of Jesus and Mary, a journey they took for our sakes. Will we forsake them and ignore their story, thinking we can know them better by taking routes the devil has easy access to? Or will we follow along the path they took, proving our love for Christ by praising Him with the angels and the shepherds, by walking silently with His mother behind His Cross, by bowing to them as our King and Queen? Frodo’s story does parallel Christ’s in many ways, both have joyful youths, sorrowful resolutions, and glorious victories, and both had a companion who went with them to the very end, Frodo had Sam, and Jesus had Mary. Frodo’s journey ended up taking him all the way to Eru, and Christ’s took Him back to His Father in Heaven. Will we follow down this path of roses and thorns and become characters of new stories? Will we take the path Christ has laid out for us to Heaven? I hope so and that, maybe, one day, I will get to see you on the other side.

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