Saturday, January 5, 2013

Little Red Riding Hood: A Very Catholic Fairy Tale

Everyone knows the basic story of Little Red Riding Hood.  The little girl is given a mission by her mother to go visit her sick grandmother.  Mom loads her basket with good things, warns the child not to stop or to wander from the path, and then sends her out the door.   While she is following the path, a hungry wolf spots her and decides she looks quite tasty.  He greets her as if he is a friend, and in talking to her finds out that she has a sick grandmother and thinks to himself he now has an opportunity to get two meals instead of just one.  He draws the location of Granny’s house out of Red and then encourages her to further disobey her mother and go collect flowers for Granny so that he can enact his nefarious deeds.

Red, unaware of the real danger represented by the wolf, believes him a friend and follows his advice, straying far from the path as she collects flowers for Granny.  The wolf is thus able to use the information he got from Red to deceive Granny, goes inside and eats her, then fools Red with his disguise so that he can eat her too.  The wolf is only stopped because he becomes complacent, falls asleep, and snores so loudly as to attract the attention of a nearby hunter.

The hunter enters the cabin to check on the old woman – whom he knows well – and finds the wolf sleeping in her bed. He guts the wolf, removes Red and Granny, and then destroys the wolf so that it can never threaten anyone’s life again. This is the simple children’s story we know and love, but hidden inside is a very Catholic story.

Little Red is where most Catholics are right now – immature in their faith, they are unaware of just how real that big bad wolf is and how much danger he really represents. Because they do not heed the seriousness of the threat, they are quick to think him a friend, quick to abandon Mother’s advice, step off the path set by Christ, and go hunting for “improvements” to the gifts that Mother gave them.

Mother is the Catholic Church, giving her children missions of charity, warning them to stay on the path, and then entrusting them with the gifts they need to do the work she asks them to do.

The woods can be thought of as the world.  It’s full of beauty, but also full of hidden dangers.  It’s easy to lose sight of our path if we are not vigilant.

The big bad wolf is Satan.  He usually appears to us first as a friend, then encourages us to do the wrong thing, to ignore the advice of the Church, while promising us greater glory for our disobedience.

Granny represents all those souls in need.  It is because of Red’s failure to heed the advice of Mother that they are betrayed; deceived and consumed by the wolf.  

The huntsman is the more mature Catholic, experienced in the ways of the world and knowledgeable enough about its dangers to come prepared to fight it. It is because of the huntsman that both Red and Granny are saved and the wolf destroyed.

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