Mary, our Morning Star

As the year 2022 began, people welcomed in the New Year with mixed emotions. For so many the year 2021 brought sadness, loss and grief, as a result of the Covid pandemic and it has left a burden of fear and uncertainty in the hearts of many. It was a year undoubtedly of countless blessings as well, if not least for the precious lessons it sought to teach us: to appreciate one another more, to treasure the gift of life, to think more of others than of ourselves, but still questions may arise: "What next?", "What does the new year hold in store?", "When will all this be over?".


It seems that, amid the obscurity, God has wanted to provide us with a clear sign of His presence and consolation, through His most Holy Mother. Surely it can be no mere coincidence that this year the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, which is always celebrated on 1st January, also fell on a Saturday, the day of the week dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary? The New Year thus opened in a particularly Marian way, as a sign of hope from God after these challenging times, that we begin this year with Her, under Her maternal protection, and that She will be with us through the coming year. As St John Henry Cardinal Newman once wrote: “It is Mary’s prerogative to be the Morning Star, which heralds in the sun. She does not shine for herself, or from herself, but is the reflection of her and our Redeemer, and she glorifies Him. When She appears in the darkness, we know that He is close at hand”. Our Lady is always a sign of hope.


The past couple of years have certainly felt very dark for many. Let us take courage from this beautiful sign of God’s Providence, beginning this year with Our Lady, and take the opportunity to renew our hope in Her and to increase our prayers and devotion to Her. We are still passing through difficult times and it is inevitable in this mortal life that we will still have trials and difficulties to bear. It is only in Heaven, our true homeland, that the Lord “will wipe away every tear… death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore” (Rev 21:4). It is towards this heavenly homeland that we should direct our earthly steps, animated by Christian hope, but God in His mercy has given us His Mother to be near us along this difficult journey. When we stay close to Her, life’s challenges and sufferings becomes easier to bear. She repeats to each of us the words She addressed to St Juan Diego: “Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little [child]; let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart, or your countenance. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need? Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain”. Each one of us should listen to these words and let them penetrate deep into our hearts until we are firmly convinced of them. As She said to St Juan Diego, so Our Blessed Mother says to each one of us that we must fear nothing nor allow anything to discourage us, for we are not alone in this world or without help. In fact, which child is afraid when it is safe in its mother’s arms or when it knows its mother is close by? It does not fear, even if dangers surround it, because it knows that its mother is there, is watching over him, and that they will face whatever comes together.

If until now we have not had any particular devotion to Our Lady, why not start off by making the resolution to pray even just three Hail Mary’s every morning and evening, or if possible, a Rosary each day? The Rosary is a prayer much loved and requested by Our Lady in various apparitions, and She promises great graces to those who recite it. It is a prayer that many find difficult and monotonous, but there are many visual aids now available in books as well as online, which can be a great help to many. If you already pray to Our Lady, why not deepen your devotion and knowledge of Her by reading books about Her and Her mysteries? By doing so, we will not only honour our Mother, but also bring great joy to Jesus. As St Maximilian Kolbe assures us: “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love Her more than Jesus did”.