Monday, September 08, 2008

Why is Mary 'Star of the Sea'? (Excerpt from a Sermon for the Feast of the Nativity of the BVM)

[Image of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, at Mary Star of the Sea High School in San Pedro, California]

[Taken from the liner notes for "Gregorian Melodies - Popular Chants, Volume I," a music album by the Monastic Choir of St. Peter's Abbey, Solesmes]

"'Maris stella' : 'Star of the sea'. This title is one of the given etymologies of 'Mary,' in Hebrew. Fulbert de Charters (†1028) wrote the following for a sermon on the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady:

"Navigators on the high seas need to fix the star shining well above the sky's horizon, so as to know their position and the course they are on; thus do they hope to attain their port of destination. In the same way, brothers, all the faithful of Christ, as they struggle amidst the waves of this world, gaze steadily at the star of the sea -- by which I mean, Mary -- who, because she is placed so high above the horizon of earthly realites, is close to God. They imitate her example in order to determne the course of their lives, so as not to be shaken by the winds of vain glory, nor broken upon the rocks of adversity. In this way, they will happily arrive at the port of their eternal repose."
[A short history of the hymn, from Ave Maris Stella:]

"Ave Maris Stella is a popular liturgical hymn of unknown origin. It can be dated back to at least the 9th century for it is preserved in the Codex Sangallensis, a 9th century manuscript now in the Swiss Monastery of St. Gallen. Its appearance in the Codex points to a composition in possibly the 8th century. The hymn is frequently attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) and sometimes has been attributed to King Robert (1031), both of whom are too late to have authored it. It has also been attributed to [St.] Venantius Fortunatus (d 609) and Paul the Deacon (d 787). It is found in ancient codices of the Divine Office for Vespers on Marian feasts. Today it is still in use in the Divine Office and in the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin."

[See previous post for further commentary and information about this beautiful hymn.]

"The Blessed Virgin Mary is called the Star of the Sea. Those who sail the ocean seas are guided to the port they seek by carefully observing the stars. In the same way, Christians are guided to heavenly glory by keeping their eyes on Mary."
-St. Thomas Aquinas


Blogger Clarice Burch said...

I love that image of Stella Maris at the beginning of this blog. Do you know where my faith group (who chose her as our Patron Saint) could purchase it?

5:55 AM  

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