I nearly flunked out of college when a friend handed me all three volumes of The Lord of the Rings in 1969 and invited me to read them. I quit studying and slept only a little for about two weeks.  The stories captivated me.

Several years later, the movies came.  Many of you have seen those movies.  I was captivated again, and decided that one of the reasons for my affection for these stories was that I loved the clarity of the division between good and evil they depicted.

If you saw the movies or read the books, you will remember that while the Fellowship of the Ring was traveling through the mines of Moria deep inside a mountain, they encountered the Balrog.  They fled for safety along a strait and narrow walkway with mists of darkness on either side.  An awful evil was behind, pursuing them with the intent to destroy.  While those he loved moved to safety, Gandalf stopped on the path to confront this enemy.  When the Balrog ascended from the pit, Gandalf faced him with the staff of his power extended and cried, “You shall not pass!”

That image seems to me to be a marvelous metaphor for great fathers who stand, as it were, at the gates of their homes and families, armed with the priesthood of God, and declare to the limit and extent of their authority, to the evil of an encroaching world, “You shall not pass!”

When sickness or disease strikes, there stands the father, armed with the priesthood of God, anointing and blessing his family: You shall not pass!  When evil threatens, the father intervenes—always with respect for agency—and affirms, You shall not pass!  When doctrinal deception prowls around, or a family member stumbles and struggles because of indifference or apathy, powerful dads seek and search and teach: You shall not pass!

I love this quote from President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve:

Now, fathers, I would remind you of the sacred nature of your calling. You have the power of the priesthood directly from the Lord to protect your home. There will be times when all that stands as a shield between your family and the adversary’s mischief will be that power. You will receive direction from the Lord by way of the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Boyd K. Packer, Ensign)

I pray we can be that kind of father—a Gandalf father, holding back the evil, fighting the mischief of the destroyer with our faith and power, helping our families to find safety, and crying out in the energy of our souls to anything or anyone that might injure them, You shall not pass!