“Mondays with Mary” – Mary, Star of the Sea

In my blog post on August 7th of this year, I spoke about Mary as the Morning Star, but also mentioned in that post that I would write about Mary, Star of the Sea (Stella Maris) in September, closer to the actual feast day, which happens to be this Wednesday, September 27.

When speaking about the Marian star, there are two variations – the six-pointed star and the eight-pointed star. As you might know, the six-pointed star is essentially the Davidic Star. This star is used to show the role Mary plays in all of Salvation History. It fulfills her role as both Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces. This star shows the repair that happens between God and man through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, where Mary assists her Son as his “helper.” Here we see the fulfillment of Adam and Eve with the New Adam and New Eve, since Adam’s “helper” in the Garden was Eve.

The eight-pointed star finds its origins in the number eight itself. The number eight represents salvation. The meaning comes from Genesis 6:18 – “But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” Here we see that eight-people escaped the Great Flood, finding salvation in the ark. In regards to the Blessed Virgin Mary, this star could be used to articulate one or most of the traits of Mary – i. Her role as Mother of the Redeemer in all her holiness and fullness of grace; ii. In regards to Jesus and the Trinity, she is His forerunner, his dawn before the sun rises; and iii. Through her role as Mother, she is luminous in all things.

Mary, Star of the Sea finds its foundation in the Scripture passage, 1 Kings 18:41-45, which references a small cloud that appears above the sea as a symbol of hope. It’s implying that rain is coming and the drought will cease. It is understood that the small cloud, about the size of a human hand, is seen from Mount Carmel and is the “Star of the Sea.” Mary, as the Star of the Sea brings hope, freedom, and rebirth to all of humanity for it is through her that we have Jesus Christ. This scriptural image was so profound that the Carmelites built a church on Mount Carmel and named it, Stella Maris.

The genesis of the term, stella maris, is often associated with St. Jerome, however, he called Mary “a drop of the sea” (stilla maris). Nevertheless, many of the Early Church Fathers focused on the term “Stella Maris” in their writings. A later period Church Father, and Archbishop of Reims, Hincmar, says that Mary is “a star of the sea assumed into the heavens.”

Not only did Early Church Fathers focus on her, early century composers wrote about Mary as the Star of the Sea. Most notably is the anonymous hymn from the eighth to ninth century titled, Ave Maris Stella. It is often attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux and a few others, however nothing definitive has been proven. This hymn is still used today in the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) for Vespers (Evening Prayer) on Marian feasts. At the end of this blog post is the English translation and here is the Latin text.

Mary, the Star of the Sea is often associated with individuals that live and work near the sea. It is very much a maritime title for the Blessed Virgin Mary. In his 1997 Apostolic Letter (“moto proprio”), Stella Maris, Pope St. John Paul II said,

“Stella Maris has long been the favourite title by which people of the sea have called on her in whose protection they have always trusted: the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her son, Jesus Christ, accompanied his disciples in their vessels, helped them in their work and calmed the storms. And so the Church accompanies seafarers, caring for the special spiritual needs of those who for various reasons live and work in the maritime world.”

As we approach and celebrate this Marian feast on Wednesday, let us remember all those who have endured tragedy and sufferings, most especially the smaller islands in the Caribbean, with the recent Hurricanes of Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and ask for Mary’s intercession for these people through her title as Mary, Star of the Sea.  

Ave Maris Stella –

Hail, bright star of ocean,
God’s own Mother blest,
Ever sinless Virgin,
Gate of heavenly rest.

Taking that sweet Ave
Which from Gabriel came,
Peace confirm within us,
Changing Eva’s name.

Break the captives’ fetters,
Light on blindness pour,
All our ills expelling,
Every bliss implore.

Show thyself a Mother;
May the Word Divine,
Born for us thy Infant,
Hear our prayers through thine.

Virgin all excelling,
Mildest of the mild,
Freed from guilt, preserve us,
Pure and undefiled.

Keep our life all spotless,
Make our way secure,
Till we find in Jesus,
Joy forevermore.

Through the highest heaven
To the Almighty Three,
Father, Son and Spirit,
One same glory be. Amen

Mary, Star of the Sea…Pray for Us 


“All About Mary.” Star of the Sea : University of Dayton, Ohio, udayton.edu/imri/mary/s/star-of-the-sea.php.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary, the Morning Star (through words of Blessed John Henry Newman)

There are times when I know exactly what I am going to write for a “Mondays with Mary” and then there are times when I struggle to find a topic. Today was one of those days, however, after a miscue on what reading I was suppose to read last night at our monthly Latin Novus Ordo Mass, it came to me, well it came to me through a friend. I was supposed to read the first reading, but I read the second reading. She said to me, Tom, you had to read that reading because it mentioned “morning star” and you had to read about Mary.

So for today’s blog post on the Blessed Mother, I am going to focus on the Marian title, Morning Star, but through the words of Blessed John Henry Newman. However, before I give you his words, let me briefly explain this title to you and what it means.

In the Litany of Loreto, there isn’t a title that is more precise than “Morning Star.” All stars image the Blessed Virgin Mary for she is the reflection of the brightest star, Jesus Christ. One of the most popular titles for Mary is “Star of the Sea”, which derives from ancient Marian hymns. In September, I will focus on this Marian title more.

The title “Morning Star” is often associated with the Blessed Mother because the Church interprets this verse from Song of Songs – “Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun?” (6:10) as a description of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As the “Morning Star”, Mary precedes the coming of the star that lights the day, the star that points to the largest star. As always, Mary is leading us closer to Jesus Christ.

Now that we have a brief understanding of this title, let us turn to the words of Blessed John Henry Newman, a man who can say hello and good-bye more eloquently than me. As often happens with the saints, after I read this explanation of the Morning Star from Newman, my one word was…Wow!

“WHAT is the nearest approach in the way of symbols, in this world of sight and sense, to represent to us the glories of that higher world which is beyond our bodily perceptions? What are the truest tokens and promises here, poor though they may be, of what one day we hope to see hereafter, as being beautiful and rare? Whatever they may be, surely the Blessed Mother of God may claim them as her own. And so it is; two of them are ascribed to her as her titles, in her Litany—the stars above, and flowers below. She is at once the Rosa Mystica and the Stella Matutina.

And of these two, both of them well suited to her, the Morning Star becomes her best, and that for three reasons.

First, the rose belongs to this earth, but the star is placed in high heaven. Mary now has no part in this nether world. No change, no violence from fire, {77} water, earth, or air, affects the stars above; and they show themselves, ever bright and marvellous, in all regions of this globe, and to all the tribes of men.

And next, the rose has but a short life; its decay is as sure as it was graceful and fragrant in its noon. But Mary, like the stars, abides for ever, as lustrous now as she was on the day of her Assumption; as pure and perfect, when her Son comes to judgment, as she is now.

Lastly, it is Mary’s prerogative to be the Morning Star, which heralds in the sun. She does not shine for herself, or from herself, but she is the reflection of her and our Redeemer, and she glorifies Him. When she appears in the darkness, we know that He is close at hand. He is Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Behold He comes quickly, and His reward is with Him, to render to everyone according to his works. ‘Surely I come quickly. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.'”

Blessed Virgin Mary, Morning Star…Pray for Us 

775th Blog Post 

“Mondays with Mary” – The Star of the Sea that Shines Through Advent

As we enter the Season of Advent, our attention is drawn to the coming of Emmanuel – Jesus Christ. We see his first coming in the Incarnation which in turn will prepare us for His second coming, where He will judge the living and the dead. Just as Mary welcomed Jesus with great hope, the Church does the same. The first half of Advent, through her liturgy, prayers, readings and antiphons, the Church anticipates the eschatological return of Jesus Christ on the Last Day as Supreme Judge.

Within the Advent season, we see two Marian feasts that display the important role that Mary plays in Salvation History, the role of preceding Christ – the Immaculate Conception on December 8 and Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12. As the sunrise follows the dawn so too does the Blessed Virgin prepare the Church, and all of humanity, for the coming of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. As the Star of the Sea, which shines with great brilliance, Mary not only guides us through the night of Advent, but through the waves and storms of life helping us to reach the port of Heaven.

Mary - Star of the Sea

Pope St. John Paul II summarizes this with great articulation when he says,

“It is a fact that when “the fullness of time” was definitively drawing near-the saving advent of Emmanuel- she who was from eternity destined to be his Mother already existed on earth. The fact that she “preceded” the coming of Christ is reflected every year in the liturgy of Advent. Therefore, if to that ancient historical expectation of the Savior we compare these years which are bringing us closer to the end of the second Millennium after Christ and to the beginning of the third, it becomes fully comprehensible that in this present period we wish to turn in a special way to her, the one who in the “night” of the Advent expectation began to shine like a true “Morning Star” (Stella Matutina). For just as this star, together with the “dawn,” precedes the rising of the sun, so Mary from the time of her Immaculate Conception preceded the coming of the Savior, the rising of the “Sun of Justice” in the history of the human race” (Redemptoris Mater #3).

As we enter this Advent season, let us go “to Jesus through Mary”, which follows the identical path of Our Lord who came through Mary His Mother. Let us invoke the Marian antiphon, commonly recited following Compline (night prayers or solemn vespers), known as the Alma Redemptoris Mater. It is in this song of honor to the Blessed Virgin Mary that we as sinners seek the intercession of Mary, our perpetual Ever-Virgin, Mother of the Redeemer, Open Gate to Heaven, and the Star of the Sea –

Loving mother of the Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea, assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again. To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator, yet remained a virgin after as before. You who received Gabriel’s joyful greeting, have pity on us poor sinners.