Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mt. Carmel Novena, Day 3-- "Star of the Sea"

"I made that in the heavens there should rise light that never faileth....I compassed the circuit of heaven...and have walked in the waves of the sea." Ecclesiasticus 24:6,8

"And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." St Matthew 2:10

During his first crusade to free captive Jerusalem, St Louis IX the King of France was sailing with his retinue when a fierce storm overwhelmed the vessel. They were not far from the shores of Palestine when through the tempest the bells from the chapel of the hermits on Mt. Carmel could be heard. The holy king fell to his knees, imploring the Blessed Virgin to spare his family and his companions from drowning. The ship did not founder; the storm ceased. King Louis, with a heart full of gratitude, decided to visit the "Brothers of Our Lady" on Mt. Carmel, where they lived in prayer and penance in imitation of the Prophet Elias. So impressed was he with their austerity and devotion, that he arranged for some of them to go to France, thus bringing the Carmelite order to that country where it flourished for centuries. The fact that many of the Brothers went to Europe preserved the Carmelite Order from extinction, since those hermits living on Mt. Carmel were eventually massacred by the Moslems.

Our Lady is the star whose light pierces the darkest clouds to guide the ship of the Church, as well as the ship of the soul, through the most tumultuous storms. The ancient icons of the Virgin often show her adorned with a star; the title "Star
of the Sea" is very old, a symbol of royalty and power, of help and mediation. The hymn Ave Maris Stella ("Hail, Star of the Sea") has often been sung in times of crisis, as mentioned in the lives of many saints; we know that on the path to Heaven even the holiest souls feel overwhelmed and discouraged in times of darkness and persecution.

In the words of the Franciscan Wonder-Worker St Anthony of Padua: "We are far from God, tossed at every moment by storms. We lie at the very jaws of spiritual death, and so we cry out, 'Hail Mary!' ''

Star of the Sea, pray for us!

Novena Prayer to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Share


Anonymous said...

Beautiful reflection!

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you!

Kitchen Madonna said...

I have prayed this prayer many times over the years and received many graces and favors. Blessed be God.

Anonymous said...


I was impressed with the way the Holy Father closed "Spe Salvi" with an appeal to our dear Stella Maris (co-incidentally the whole encyclical was written without referencing other 20thC Vatican publications, perhaps as an expression of sicnere humility to thaw the frozen packice separating the ocean's Eastern and Western shores?)

Illustrating this post with the Byzantine icon underscores the point most fittingly (Theotokos's gown carries three stars when she's depicted alone, when depicted in her matronal guise, usually two - one on her wimple one on her shoulder, our Lord as an infant completes the third person of the Holy Trinity.)

Stella is a name that was supremely popular a century or more ago
(H/T CrunchyCon)

then waned, yet is now waxing again, and its not just a trend among those blessed with the feminine genius: the boys name Carmelo and Carmine are experiencing a resurgence, deo gratias!

Clare Krishan

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Kitchen Madonna, it is a powerful invocation!

Cheerio to you, Clare! I love ancient icons, especially the one I posted for this entry, which is one of the earliest images of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, predating the scapular. Yes, the old Byzantine icons of Our Lady show the three stars. So magnificent. Thank you for reminding us.