by Father Dwight Longenecker
Tuesday, May 27, 2008 6:49 PM Comment
Prince Caspian is in our theaters this month, and it was perhaps inevitable
that filmmakers missed the theological heart of the story.
Lewis’ second Narnia tale brings the four Pevensie children back to their
alternative world when a young prince named Caspian, whose royal father was
murdered by a usurper, blows an ancient horn to summon help.
Edmund, Susan and Lucy are drawn from a country railway station in England to a
Narnia that is thousands of years older than when they were there last.
(Narnian time, they discover, runs differently from our time.)
soon learn of Prince Caspian’s plight and set out across an unfamiliar Narnian
landscape to help him. The battle for Narnia eventually transpires, but before
it does the children have to discern the way forward.
the youngest child, is also the most spiritual. What she sees is the important
heart of the story.
is no coincidence that St. Lucy, who was martyred by being blinded, and is the
patron saint of the blind, is the Pevensie girl’s namesake. The Narnian St.
Lucy is not blind, but she does help those who are.
is the first one to see the great lion Aslan. At first, she only sees him out
of the corner of her eye. Then she sees him as a shadow or a fleeting image.
last, he calls to her and she sees him face to face and embraces him.
sees Aslan when she and her siblings are lost in the forest and need to find
the way to help Prince Caspian. Aslan summons them through Lucy to follow a
high trail up and over a ridge.
Lucy claims to see Aslan, the other children doubt, and waste time and effort
going the wrong way, only to turn back to the way Aslan first intended. Then
comes the crunch scene: Aslan summons Lucy again with great urgency and tells
her that she must wake up the others and lead them on, even if they cannot see
him, and even if they doubt her.
obeys, despite the fact that they do not believe in her visions, and ridicule
her childlike trust and belief. Eventually the other four follow her, and come
to the point where they too can see and love Aslan. Through her obedience and
faith, Lucy leads the others home.
such, Lucy shows us that we all must “walk by faith and not by sight.” The
resurrected Lord says to St. Thomas, “You have seen and believe. Blessed are
those who have not seen, yet believe.”
forward in faith when times are good is not so difficult. Going forward in
faith when we cannot see the way, when the path leads uphill, when we set out
in the middle of the night: That is when it is most difficult to follow.
older children are unable to see Aslan because already they are starting to
grow up, and in Lewis’ Narnia tales the grown-ups are always the ones who are
two older children — Susan and Peter — are informed that they will not be
returning to Narnia because they will soon be so grown up that not only will
they be unable to see Aslan, but they will also be unable to get into Narnia at
Kingdom of heaven, like Narnia, is only open to those who become as little
Lewis, as an Anglican, may not have been very familiar with St Thérèse of Lisieux,
but his work reflects her own “little way of spiritual childhood” that is drawn
directly from the Gospel where Jesus says we must all become as little children
to enter the Kingdom.
Thérèse said, “To remain little means to recognize one’s nothingness to expect
everything from God, not to worry too much about one’s faults — in a word, not
to wish to lay up treasure, and to keep an untroubled heart.”
In Prince Caspian, Lewis gives us a Lisieuxian in Lucy. What Lucy saw was that to follow
Christ one must remain little and trusting.
the darkest part of her own journey Thérèse said, “It is as if I am in a
subterranean passage. I don’t see that we are advancing towards the summit of
the mountain since our journey is being made underground, but it seems to me
that we are approaching it without knowing how.”
ability to “walk by faith and not by sight” lies at the heart of the Christian
hope it is retained and pictured in the new film. If it does, it will give
light to many who are seeking the Way.
Dwight Longenecker of Greenville, South Carolina, is the author of
St. Benedict and St Thérèse — The Little Way