It might also be that on this, the longest day of our year, the summer solstice, I am thinking of stars.
I don’t see the stars much these days, when dusk happens past 9 PM and I’m trying to convince small people that bedtime is more alluring than the “flierflies” they’re chasing and catching and naming in the backyard.
But when I think of stars, summer is the time that comes to mind. It was in the summer, all those years ago, when I started noticing the stars, laying underneath them at various summertime events. I think of the stars when I smell a campfire and every time we sing Johnny Appleseed for grace before dinner. I also think of stars when I think of intertwined hands. (That’s because of a column I wrote last year.)
Stars are an inspiring thing, a captivating image, a twinkling little piece of God that smiles at us in the dark of night.
It’s no wonder Mary has a title related to the stars, Star of the Sea. It’s also no wonder that when a Dutch priest was inspired to start a network for Catholic new media that he used a star as its theme.
I think Mary must smile when she sees how the work of that Dutch priest has blossomed. She must turn to her Son and give Him a knowing look and maybe a nudge on the shoulder.
“Hey, look at that!” I hear her saying, putting her teacup down. “Those guys are ON FIRE! Remind me of…” and then I hear her and Jesus going on about the days gone by, when evangelization was a way of life and martyrdom was commonplace.
I’ll be in Boston to speak this August, but I’ll also be there as a testament to something that I believe in, the work of the Church in the trenches. The Star Quest Production Network (SQPN) has inspired me in my faith journey, has encouraged me to keep growing and keep going, and has been an indispensable resource for me. I think it no accident that this year, the annual Catholic New Media Celebration takes place in a coastal area peppered with parishes named in honor of Our Lady, Star of the Sea.
She’s our star too. She guides us, gently and surely. She inspires us to reach higher, to keep going, to look past the world right in front of us and focus on the eternal.
As a star, Mary guides us just as the star led the magi to the Christ Child. To the sailors in ages past the stars meant survival. Without the stars, before GPS and our technology, they wouldn’t know where they were going. The stars represented, in a way, their salvation. The stars pointed the way to safety. It only took a good storm to spell disaster, because their navigation system was gone.
Won’t you join us on August 7? Registration is still open (and I’d love to meet you!).
Hail, Queen of heaven, the ocean star,
Guide of the wanderer here below,
Thrown on life’s surge, we claim thy care,
Save us from peril and from woe.
Mother of Christ, O Star of the sea
Pray for the wanderer, pray for me.
O gentle, chaste, and spotless Maid,
We sinners make our prayers through thee;
Remind thy Son that He has paid
The price of our iniquity.
Virgin most pure, O star of the sea,
Pray for the sinner, pray for me.
And while to Him Who reigns above
In Godhead one, in Persons three,
The Source of life, of grace, of love,
Homage we pay on bended knee:
Do thou, bright Queen, O star of the sea,
Pray for thy children, pray for me.
“Hail, Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star,” by Fr. John Lingard (1771-1851)