When I made my Marian consecration several years ago, I learned the prayer Ave Maris Stella. It quickly became one of my favorites, particularly after I found a couple of stunning musical renditions (here and here), and I found myself singing it often.
When we found out we were expecting a little girl three years ago, I knew I wanted a name that was Marian in nature. Her middle name, Grace, was decided early, taken from Our Lady of Grace, my favorite Marian image. The image is a reminder that Mary is ready to be the channel of limitless graces, if we only remember to ask for them.
Choosing the first name was a little more difficult, until one night my husband said, “What about Evelyn?” I immediately remembered the first two stanzas of Ave Maris Stella:
Evelyn was the perfect companion for Grace. Putting the two side by side made my daughter’s name a kind of prayer, reminding me that Mary’s yes undid Eve’s no, becoming the channel for Christ and grace to enter the world. Mary can become the same for me. No matter where I am in my spiritual life, she is ready to help me overcome sins and turn back to Jesus. (I should note it occurred to me that I would use these names in conjunction mostly when my daughter was being naughty, the perfect moment to be reminded of the need for grace and loving correction from a mother.)
I only recently became aware that today is the feast of Stella Maris, the Star of the Sea, and as I am in the middle of renewing my consecration for the 7th time, I wanted to take the to pay homage to my Guiding Star.
She guided me to DC after college for a wonderful adventure, and led me to my husband. Through this adventure, she deepened my relationship with her Son. Even my date of consecration, October 7, has become more special, as it was the first time I felt my daughter kick in my womb. She refuses to allow my relationship with her to end with her though, and gently takes me by the hand to approach her Son time and time again.
Stars have been used by sailors for navigation for centuries. While sailors kept their eyes fixed on the stars and knowledge of them was essential, the stars were never the goal. They were simply guides, providing comfort and affirmation for travelers, helping them remain on course, and determine their proximity to their destination.
Mary is our Northern Star, fixed in the Heaven’s, showing us where we are and where we still need to go. Even as we follow her, we know she is not our end, only our guide, the most perfect means to reaching her Son. Just as the beauty of the stars causes us to look up in awe and allows us to contemplate our littleness, so too looking up to her causes us to see ourselves for who we are in relation to our God.