"And he that shall overcome, and keep my works unto the end, I will give him power over the nations....and I will give him the morning star." Apocalypse 26,28
Our Lady has long been hailed as Stella Matutina, "the Morning Star," for she heralded the end to the long darkness of original sin which preceded the coming of the Savior. In our world and in our lives, there is still darkness, there are nights which seem implacable and never-ending, but the length and darkness of the night only makes the Star shine brighter. We are daily confronted with the night of unbelief and the darkness of paganism which exist in the world; no material darkness can equal the spiritual night of faithlessness. Then there is the darkness of sin, the darkness of slavery to sin, which creates such a blindness that reason and logic are rendered futile. The Mother of God never ceases her intercession, and is the Advocate of Sinners.
As for those who have been freed from the bonds of mortal sin through repentance and confession, the struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil continues to rage, often creating a sort of darkness. This can be part of the "dark night" of which St John of the Cross wrote so eloquently, which is the purification of those souls who have given themselves to God, who are striving to love and serve Him. The night can include the abandonment and betrayal by friends and family, the loss of loved ones, the continuation of impossible and annoying situations, the sense of being forsaken even by God, the feeling that one's prayers are not being answered, dryness and lack of devotion when one does pray. All one can do is keep praying and persevering in the practice of the Catholic faith, looking to Our Lady who tells us that the night will not last forever.
St John of the Cross insists that it is only in such darkness that we truly become united with God. In The Ascent of Mount Carmel, the saint writes:
O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
The Lover with His beloved,
Transforming the beloved in her Lover.
Star of the Morning, pray for us!
Novena Prayer to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel:
O most beautiful Flower of Mt Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein you are my Mother.
O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart, to succor me in this my necessity, there are none that can withstand your power.
O show me herein you are my Mother.
Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us that have recourse to thee. (3 times)
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands. (3 times) AMEN.
(Picture courtesy of Vultus Christi)