If right now you don’t feel or believe that you are heroic or that you have heroism within you, then I hope that by the end of this series of blog posts you will have the conviction that you are heroic or that you have heroism within you.
THE HERO’S JOURNEY
Our novels, movies and real life stories describe the complexities that all humans experience, especially suffering for the sake of another, and the transformation that experience offers. The good guy doesn’t always win and is sometimes vanquished. But! The heroism lives on! The person becomes a hero after he’s gone because of the legacy he leaves behind, a legacy of heroism that can change the world. We learn this from our greatest hero, Jesus Christ, who said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces many seeds.” You and I are those seeds! And properly fed and tended we can–and should–produce great fruit.
What defines a Hero? A man admired for his virtuous achievements. Admired by whom? By OTHERS, because you can only be heroic to someone else! Heroism has the power to redeem someone who has become corrupted…like us. And that’s our faith.
Think of the the Good Thief hanging next to our Lord
(St Dismas the Good Thief, by Bradi Barth)
or, Prince Boromir, laying down his life for his friends (“no greater love”)
You give of yourself for the benefit of others, which is, after worship of God, the 2nd most important commandment of our faith (“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself” MT 22:36-40)
Lord Of The Rings is an epic story of good vs evil during a pilgrimage, because the fate of the world hangs in the balance. And JRR Tolkien’s experiences in WWI, along with his Catholic faith, must have significantly informed him during his writing. The massive loss of young lives, including those very close to Tolkien, changed the understanding of what a hero looks like (no longer the muscle-bound man) because of the ordinary looking heroes Tolkien saw on the battlefield. These are people with whom their peers can identify The story has many heroic characters, and most seem to think Frodo Baggins the main one; but in my opinion, Sam, Samwise Gamjee, is the real hero. He is a type of Simon of Cyrene, helping Frodo in his courageous friendship to carry the burden of the ring–and carry Frodo.
Who experiences the greatest transformation in the story? The lowly Sam, who agrees to help Frodo rather than remain at the cozy shire tending to his little garden (“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth”). He is steadfast throughout the pilgrimage. I should note that, in his meekness, Sam doesn’t even realize that he has any heroism within himself; nor do any who know him! The seeds of heroism lie within you and within me, and we just need the journey to bring it out of us.
All who came into contact with the ring were tempted, but only Sam did not give in to that temptation, and willingly gave up the ring.
When Frodo realizes the magnitude of the task, he says to Gandalf the wise elder: “I wish it need not have happened in my time.” To that, Gandalf responds with one of the greatest responses by an actor, and by any human being: “So do I; and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Sam seems to realize, more than Frodo, the magnitude of their journey and that great dangers lie in wait:
“I know we are going to take a very long road, into darkness; but I know I can’t turn back. It isn’t to see Elves now, nor dragons, nor mountains…because I have something to do before the end” And so do we all. The challenge for each of us is to find that something, our purpose, and the mission to fulfill it.
My friends, I pray that you’ve either begun your Hero’s Journey or you soon will, one that transforms you into a better person as exemplified by your charity to others, all because of your deeper faith in the ultimate hero: Jesus Christ. I hope that as you make your way, I can provide some help to you.
WE ALWAYS NEED HEROISM, BUT NEVER MORE IN MY LIFETIME THAN NOW
Until Part 2,