“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “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.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of the Ring
In many ways, Frodo could be the voice of many people today who watch the news. Why do such terrible things–rampant disease, murder of the innocent though abortion or euthanasia, persecution of the Church, widespread depression–occur in our time? Why do people choose violence and evil over peace and good? Gandalf also recognizes the evil, but calls Frodo to not be paralyzed by it. There is much wisdom in Gandalf’s words, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” God gave us life in the time He did, and there’s a reason that we are living today. But like Frodo, we must decide how we use our time. We can use our time well, or we can squander it. The choice is ours alone.
Frodo recognizes the evil situation. He has a choice to make, whether to ignore the evil and live his life as though nothing happened, or to respond and sacrifice his comfort and quiet life and go on a quest for the good of all. Life is full of decisions. Each choice either brings us closer or further away from who we were made to be. If Frodo ignored the gravity of the situation and chose comfort, he would not have become who he was meant to be, and Middle Earth would have been lost. How many times do we chose comforts over the person we are made to be?
“The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” – Benedict XVI
We live in an age of instant gratification with the drive-thru, fast food, movies on demand, and so on. Man is capable of greatness, but he also is capable of being a dead fish just going with the flow. Instead of striving for greatness, many strive for whatever is easiest or causes least disturbance. When Christ called the disciples, He did not tell them the path would be easy. Rather, Jesus says, “Make your way in by the narrow gate. It is a broad gate and a wide road that leads on to perdition, and those who go in that way are many indeed; but how small is the gate, how narrow the road that leads on to life, and how few there are that find it!” (Matthew 7:13-14) We need to be on the narrow path that leads to life.
Ways for us to walk on the narrow and great path of life:
- Follow those who have walked it!
- We are blessed with many great examples who have walked the narrow path, the saints. Read about their lives. Ask for their intercession.
- Make good decisions.
- Do not just choose something because it is easiest or convenient. Instead, choose something because it will help you become the person you are made to be. An obvious example of what not to choose is sin. Sin destroys us. But we can’t just be a dead fish and stop there. We also have to strive for virtue.
- Live your life as a gift.
- As one of my professors told me, “The more you give, the more you get.” We must live life to the fullest. Lose yourself to find yourself.