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Star of the Sea (Stella Maris) - Feast Day, September 27

Mary's title "Star of the Sea" is thought to derive from the account in 1Kings 18:41-45 which refers to a little cloud appearing above the sea as a sign of hope that rain would soon come to water the parched earth. This little cloud, seen by St. Elijah on Mt. Carmel, is believed to be the "Star of the Sea", and is why the Carmelites named the church they would later build on the site, Stella Maris. The star as a symbol of Mary is rich in meaning. It is used to articulate several characteristics of Mary: her privileges, in particular her mission as Mother of the Redeemer or her holiness; her anticipatory role (forerunner, announcer) with regard to Christ; and her role as luminous and enlightening.

One of the earliest references we have to Mary as Stella Maris is found in the writings of Paschasius Radbertus (d. 865):  "Mary, Star of the Sea, must be followed in faith and morals lest we capsize amidst the storm-tossed waves of the sea. She will illumine us to believe in Christ, born of her for the salvation of the world." This beautiful quote reminds us that just as this title of Our Lady speaks in a special way to her patronage for those who travel or work on the seas, as the spiritual mother of all God’s children, she guides us and intercedes for us throughout the sea of our life until we finally arrive at heaven’s safe harbor.

For Reflection:

Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange says, “Not only does Mary know more of the essence of God in heaven, but she knows more too of His wisdom, His love, His power, and she sees better the range of their extent both in the order of possible and of existing realities.”  It is the will and pleasure of the Father to gift Mary with this excellence of knowledge. How do you think this gift of knowledge aids Our Lady in her role of spiritual mother? Given that, to what extent is confidence in her ignited within you? What current “sea” are you traveling through right now? Write a prayer to Mary asking her to give you her maternal wisdom, love, and power that you might traverse it with her. If your “sea” is tranquil, thank your Mother, and write the prayer for a loved one or friend who needs her maternal beatitude now.

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