During my time at seminary, this has become one of my favorite Marian antiphons. Traditionally, it’s said after night prayer during the Advent and Christmas seasons, although I think its imagery is something to consider year-round.
I’ve always loved the image of the sea. Being from a costal diocese such as Camden, I suppose it’s natural. There’s a calming aspect to watching the gentle rolling of the waves in the evening, the brightest stars and the moon illuminating the sea foam; except when it’s not gentle. This is where the image of Mary as the Star of the Sea truly becomes such a powerful image: before the invention of the compass, the only thing to tell sailors which direction they were facing during the night was by looking at the North Star, the brightest star in the sky. Even in turbulent storms, when other stars would become invisible, that star would pierce with its guiding light, leading the sailors to new lands, or back to the safety of home. For those of us with sailor ancestors, we probably have the North Star to thank for our lives today.
As all of us are ancestors of Adam and Eve, we have Mary to thank for our spiritual lives, because it was through her free cooperation with Divine Will that Christ became incarnate to save us. Today, Christ asks us to behold her as our loving Mother, as He Himself had.
As we sail through the seas of our lives, it can be nice to watch the stars reflect in the shining of the sea foam, although we know from experience that it’s not always pristine. Many times, there will be storms in our lives: pressure from work or school, uncertainty in our vocations, perhaps even dryness in our spiritual life, all of these which blot out the stars in our sky but one. Mary, Star of the Sea, will never cease to shine.
During this season of Lent, it may be the perfect time to acknowledge the storms in our lives. Sometimes it’s difficult to admit that we need help, that we’re lost and in the dark. To do so requires both courage and humility, like looking up to the stars to realize how small we actually are. For anybody, but especially anybody discerning a call to the Priesthood, it is necessary that we must endure these trials, and even more necessary that we humbly seek the guidance of the Blessed Mother during these times. Nothing on earth, or in hell, will prevent her from shining the light of her motherly love on us. As the Star of the Sea, Mary is the perfect guide, who leads us directly to our home in Christ.