Fairy tales always remind me of Our Lord’s parables. In the cloister of Carmel, on Sundays or special feasts, the reader of the week in the refectory is allowed to read “Sunday fun books”, which can consist of fairy tales; in particular from the book of Grimm. AND… we very much were expected to “get into character”. What I loved most about Grimm’s fairy tales are they are extremely Catholic. One story, called The Heavenly Wedding was about a young boy who receives the Eucharist and immediately dies and is taken to eternal life- before his death he was found always looking at a particular image of Mary and the Divine Child. It was short, but easily leaves the reader in tears by its beauty and childlike simplicity.
I was not familiar with the Grimm brothers until Carmel; the sisters acted out their tales in recreational skits very often so it did not take long for me to become accustomed to their “presence” in my spiritual life. These stories actually helped me conquer great darkness interiorly. Our Lady really uses everything because without knowing it, I performed in a Grimm’s fairy tale musical my senior year of high school called The Robber Bridegroom, as the character Salome (where “getting into character” consisted of a country accent and fake unibrow- I have always been given the “humbling” roles). It’s symbolic now, because Salome was also one of the women who was found at the cross of Christ with many other great figures- Mary the Queen, Mary Magdalene and John the Apostle. Of course…there is the wicked Salome who had John the Baptist beheaded, but nevertheless I only look to the good and holy Salome in this case, who was also the mother of John and James.
King Thrushbeard became my personal favorite tale in Carmel (I have posted about that story in my previous posts). However, following my departure another story fell in my lap that was more than a mere coincidence, it had providence written ALL over it. I purchased my own copy of the Grimm’s fairy tales and spontaneously chose a story at random and the title immediately revealed that Our Lord must have flipped to this page Himself: The True Bride. I was not only drawn in by the title and glorious lesson taught to the brides of Christ that generously wait for Him as the Divine Bridegroom (the parable of the virgins) but of the woman in the book who completely reminded me of Our Lady and all She does for Her children in times of hardship and sorrow; She does for us what we cannot do by ourselves. Whenever people say “grow up” or “fairy tales are silly”, I ask: “then what is the point of Our Lord’s parables?” Morality tales, if you will. CS Lewis used to despise fairy tales before he endeavored to write his Chronicles and had his apparent change of heart with understanding the necessity of them (and not just for children, but all ages). The good GK Chesterton was so bold as to say:
In order for me to share this fairy tale, I added something a little different: a British accent as my narration (because ancestry.com showed I am “60% British parts”) and as I was taught in Carmel to never give by halves, I am at least going to go the whole nine yards in posting my favorite fairy tale in honor of Mary this evening with a little something extra. A most Blessed Second Sunday after the Epiphany to you all; God bless you, and Ave Maria!
*Music in the video taken from Alan Menken and orchestra pieces from Anastasia.*