Forgiveness: Humility Required (And a Little LOTR Knowledge)

Forgiveness: Humility Required (And a Little LOTR Knowledge) August 19, 2010


Though I try my best to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in Sacred Scripture, I have to admit that the most wisdom I ingest tends to come from things said by Gandalf. I suppose there are worse faults. Today it’s been the ever relevant, “…Do not be too eager to deal out death and judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends.” This is, of course, very reminiscent of  our Lord’s words: “You will be judged as you judge.”  My natural defense to this is to say, “Hey, I’m an accepting sort of guy, I don’t judge people, and I only deal out death and judgement with the power of my sick freestyling gangsta rap.” But then I remember how I speak about girls. I’ve committed enough sins of lust to fill a notebook, but when an immodestly dressed girl walks by the lunch-table I nod sagely with the rest of the guys, that “she’s such a whore”. While lusting after her in my head, of course, God forgive me for those times. Or I’ll listen to a friend’s stories about wild, crazy, drunken nights with a grin on my face, but to a girl’s similar stories with a frown of judgement to rival Sauramon’s.
Who, by the way, is not happy with you.
Now a lot of that is the innate male desire to protect women, but in the end, how dare I – or anyone – assume a position of moral authority over sins we ourselves have committed, or commit presently? (Spoiler Alert!) At the End of All Things, that is to say Mount Doom, Frodo refuses to throw the ring into the fire, taking it for his own, his precious, essentially damning Middle-Earth. How much clearer Gandalf’s warning sounds with this knowledge.

Why am I telling you this? No reason, I’m just bored. And I wanted an excuse to use Tolkienology. And because of this part of the Our Father:                                                                         

“…and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”

The “as” in the middle of that fragment makes the two clauses depend on each other. If we want to be forgiven by God, we must forgive others. And that takes humility. It takes humility for me, whenever there’s a general consensus amongst my friends that a girl is a “slut”, to remember that were my private sins public, I would be labeled the same. Actually, I wouldn’t be, because I have the ridiculous get-out-of-jail-free card of being a guy, but you understand my point. It takes humility to forgive your parents. It takes humility to forgive ex-girlfriends/boyfriends. It takes humility to kiss the hands that abuse us. God specifically tells us, if you aren’t forgiving, how can you expect to be forgiven? So, if you are looking to beat the hell out of your life, forgive others. And go to confession. I’m going tomorrow!

And this is an ADD-certified tangent, but I’ll call it an epilogue. Have you noticed that Boromir’s death -which you can see by clicking on the image – is an almost perfect replica of Roman Catholic Reconciliation? There’s the obvious part, that Boromir is the sinner: he confesses his sin, that he tried to to take the ring. Then he asks for Aragorn’s forgiveness. (Bless me Father, for I have sinned.) And don’t forget that Aragorn is the King of Gondor, a King Boromir swears his allegiance to after his confession, a King Boromir would now follow, if not for imminent death. (The Act of Contrition rededicates us to following our King.) Boromir’s penance, in this case, has already been paid. As Aragorn says, “You have fought bravely, you have kept your honor.” Borormir’s penance, in the true style of epic literature, is his death by arrows. (For our penance we just say three Hail Marys). Then, in a gesture remarkably reminiscent of the sign of the cross, Aragorn tells Boromir “Be at peace”. (Go in peace, your sins are forgiven.)

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