Produced by the Office of Pastoral Ministries and Faith Formation
Morning Star Newsletter Monthly Reflection
The first edition of our new newsletter, the Morning Star, is set to send on JPII’s feast day: October 22nd.
What is a morning star? And why is it the name of our new newsletter?
Author: Sr. Sara Kowal, SCTJM, Director of Pastoral Ministries and Faith Formation
When the world is cold and dark, the twilight of morning approaches… the first thing that our eyes see on the horizon, before the light of the sun, is the bright morning star rising in the east. This bright star (which is actually the planet Venus) is reflecting the light of the sun, heralding its coming. Preceding the sun, its light and presence gives hope that morning is coming, that an ever-greater light is on its way, that the darkness will soon come to an end. Morning is here. Light has come.
It is no wonder then that the Church has traditionally honored Our Lady as the bright Morning Star. Just as the morning star reflects the light of the sun and precedes it, heralding its coming, so does Mary precede the Lord, reflecting His light, announcing that the great Light of the World is on His way. She is a sign of hope and comfort, an assurance that the dark of night always gives way to the light of day. This is why St. John Paul II writes in his encyclical on Our Lady,
“Therefore… it becomes fully comprehensible that in this present period [the dawn of the new millennium] we wish to turn in a special way to her, the one who in the ‘night’ of the Advent expectation began to shine like a true ‘Morning Star’ (Stella Matutina). For just as this star, together with the ‘dawn,’ precedes the rising of the sun, so Mary from the time of her Immaculate Conception preceded the coming of the Savior, the rising of the ‘Sun of Justice’ in the history of the human race” (Redemportis Mater, 3).
Simply, Mary precedes the Son and is a Herald of His coming. Her light is a reflection of His light, and her presence gives us hope and reminds us of the origin of Light – the true “Sun”, Jesus Christ. In this way, Mary also reveals our own vocation as Christians. We too are called to be a reflection of Christ’s light in the world. We are not the light; we do not have light in and of ourselves. But we can – and should – reflect the light of Christ to others. We too live in a dark world that needs light, that needs a “morning star” announcing a beautiful light that can penetrate the darkness of our hearts and lives and bring healing, restoration, comfort and joy. This is the power of the Morning Star (Mary) for us, and it is also the vocation of every Christian. We are called to be the lights in the world.
Hence, the tag line of this newsletter: “heralding the light of the Son.” This is the role of Our Lady and the role of every Christian. This newsletter – and the events it “heralds” – are meant to form Christians to be “morning stars”, to be a bright light in a world much in need of light. But the tag line has another part too…
At the beginning of the new millennium, after the great Jubilee year of 2000, in which we celebrated the 2000th anniversary of the Incarnation of Christ, St. John Paul II wrote an apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte: At the Beginning of the New Millennium. The purpose of this apostolic letter was to reflect on and rejoice in the graces that the Lord had given in the Jubilee year, but also to impel the Church to take the Life and Light within her to the world. Duc in altum – “put out into the deep” for a catch – he challenged the Church. “Peter and his first companions trusted Christ’s words, and cast the nets. ‘When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish’” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 1).
John Paul II called the Church to not be afraid. He recognized that the Church needs apostles, that She needs men and women that are not afraid to “put out into the deep” of our culture and world, and herald and proclaim the good news of the Gospel. Our world is starving for the Goodness, Truth, Beauty, and Love of Christ. And we have it! We can bring it! At the dawn of the new Millennium, St. John Paul II called forth the men and women of the Church to be the “apostles of the new millennium.” An apostle is “one who is sent.” This is the reason for the second part of our newsletter’s tag line: “forming apostles of the new millennium.” The goal of every Christian is to be an apostle of the Good News, and our office, the Office of Pastoral Ministries and Faith Formation, seeks to help form them through everything we do. Once again, the great Morning Star (Our Lady) was the first and greatest apostle of her Son, but she also reminds that we are all called to be apostles and stars of Jesus Christ as well.
Therefore, on the feast of St. John Paul II today, October 22, let us hear his call again in our own hearts:
“The building of a civilization of love requires strong and persevering characters, ready for self-sacrifice. It means be committed to always doing what Jesus tells us…Yes, this is not easy. It often calls for great courage in going again the trends of fashion and the opinions of the world. The world you are inheriting is a world which needs to be touched and healed by the beauty and richness of God’s love. It needs witnesses to love… You above all can do this. No one can replace you. Many people do not know Christ, or do not know him well enough. You cannot, therefore, remain silent and indifferent! You must have the courage to speak of Christ. Christ trusts you. Christ needs you… Do not be afraid to be holy…Fly high…Do not be afraid to be saints. Your time has come! The Church needs you!”
We thank you for joining us in this reflection on the great feast of St. John Paul II, marking the beginning of our diocesan Faith Formation newsletter. May it be a source of, not just news and information, but a source of inspiration as well. May we, at the dawn of the new millennium, be like Mary, a radiant dawn, a morning star, that fills the world with hope of the Light to come.
We end then with the words of St. John Paul II:
“Now I point to Mary once again as the radiant dawn and sure guide for our steps. Once more, echoing the words of Jesus himself and giving voice to the filial affection of the whole Church, I say to her: “Woman, behold your children” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 58).
Our Lady, Morning Star and radiant dawn, pray for us!