Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Morning Star

One the pleasures of getting up early in the winter in Southeast Alaska is the chance to view the Morning Star just as the day is beginning to dawn.  The anciet Greeks observed the first star of the evening, which they called Hesperus and the Morning star, which they called Phosphorus, the "lightbringer".  They believed they were looking at two stars but we know now that Hesperus and Phosphorus are one 'star' , the planet Venus.  The Exsultet, which is proclaimed at the Easter Vigil concludes by welcoming Christ, the Morning Star, "who sheds his peaceful light on all humanity". 

But with the sun is rising earlier and earlier each day in Southeast Alaska as we move towards the solstice on June 21st, the Morning Star is difficult to see in the summer sky.  

I was thinking about the Morning Star which is, is at times, difficult or impossible to see, while reading a passage from St. Boniface, whose martyrdom on this day in 754 we remember today.  Quoting scripture he counsels his readers to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own prudence.  Think on him in all your ways, and he will guide your steps."

St. Boniface, this great bishop and missionary also advises: " In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life's different stresses.  Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course."  

For me, the Church's "voyage across the ocean of this world"  is such a compelling image of the life of faith.  Just as in his day there were no charts, weather reports or storm warnings beyond the pilotage passed down from generations of navigators and ship captains, there is just no way of knowing what is ahead of us in this life, either as a Church or in our own personal pilgrimage of discipleship.

That image of the ship reminded me too, as I meditated on it, of other voyages.  Over two hundred years ago, James Cook and company,  traveled to far-off Tahitii to observe the transit of Venus in 1769.  He and the scientists with him sought to determine with greater accuracy the distance between the earth and the sun, by observing the transit of the Morning Star across the sun from various vantage points across the globe.   For Cook and his companions, this voyage was a perilous but admirable undertaking as they sought to better understand the world around them.

Which brings me back to Boniface and his own voyage into the uncharted waters of the mission field, eager to bring the Gospel to his fellow Saxons in Germany and Frisia.  At the service of the Lightbringer, the Morning Star, he brought the light of Christ into the darkness of error and sin, trusting that the Light has, once and for all, overcome the darkness.

I love the way Boniface concludes his exhortation: " Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who runs away before the wolf.  Instead, let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ's flock."           


  1. This is so beautiful - I am so glad that Paula suggested that I come over to have a look. Thank you, God bless you.

  2. I have always loved the Morning Star, too, and its reference to the Lord Jesus and to Mary. And Boniface's reading is a favorite of mine as well! Thanks for these beautiful reflections.

    1. It is so good to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words. Yes, there is that beautiful image of Mary as the Morning Star, heralding the coming dawning of her Son. I had never thought of "Phosphorus" as a title for Mary -- Theotokos Phosphorus -- Lightbearing Godbearer. Of course, we sing "Christ our Light!" at the Easter Vigil, don't we. Please give my love to everyone at St. Joseph's (and my special greeting to Sr.Rosemary).