OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL
Sacred Scripture celebrated the beauty of Carmel where the prophet Elijah defended the purity of Israel's faith in the living God. In the twelfth century, hermits withdrew to that mountain and later founded the Carmelite order devoted to the contemplative life under the patronage of Mary, the holy Mother of God.
Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is worldwide, and most Catholics are familiar with the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, also known as the Brown Scapular. Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251, and gave him the scapular with the following words, which are preserved in a fourteenth century narrative: "This will be for you and for all Carmelites the privilege, that he who dies in this will not suffer eternal fire." The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was instituted for the Carmelites in 1332, and extended to the whole Church by Benedict XIII in 1726.
Today is the principal feast day of the Carmelite Order.
Through the efforts of
the crusader Berthold, a group of hermits living on Mount Carmel were organized
into an Order after the traditional Western type about the year 1150. Oppressed
by the Saracens, the monks slowly emigrated to Europe. During the night
preceding the sixteenth of July, 1225, the Blessed Virgin is said to have
commanded Pope Honorius III to approve the foundation. Since the Carmelites were
still under constant harassment, the sixth General of the Order, St. Simon
Stock, pleaded with the Blessed Virgin for some special sign of her protection.
On July 16, 1251, she designated the scapular as the special mark of her
maternal love. That is why the present feast is also known as the feast of the
Scapular. The scapular, as part of the habit, is common to many religious
Orders, but it is a special feature of the Carmelites. A smaller form of the
scapular is given to lay persons in order that they may share in the great
graces associated with it. Such a grace is the "Sabbatine privilege." In the
so-called Bulla Sabbatina John XXII affirmed that wearers of the scapular
are soon freed from the flames of purgatory, at least by the Saturday after
death. The confirmation of the Bulla Sabbatina was promulgated by the
Sacred Congregation of Indulgences, July 4, 1908.
—The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Things to Do:
205. The history of Marian piety also includes "devotion" to various scapulars, the most common of which is devotion to the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Its use is truly universal and, undoubtedly, it is one of those pious practices which the Council described as "recommended by the Magisterium throughout the centuries."
The Scapular of Mount Carmel is a reduced form of the religious habit of the Order of the Friars of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel. Its use is very diffuse and often independent of the life and spirituality of the Carmelite family.
The Scapular is an external sign of the filial relationship established between the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Mount Carmel, and the faithful who entrust themselves totally to her protection, who have recourse to her maternal intercession, who are mindful of the primacy of the spiritual life and the need for prayer.
The Scapular is imposed by a special rite of the Church which describes it as "a reminder that in Baptism we have been clothed in Christ, with the assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, solicitous for our conformation to the Word Incarnate, to the praise of the Trinity, we may come to our heavenly home wearing our nuptial garb."
The imposition of the Scapular should be celebrated with "the seriousness of its origins. It should not be improvised. The Scapular should be imposed following a period of preparation during which the faithful are made aware of the nature and ends of the association they are about to join and of the obligations they assume."
Therefore two truths are evoked by the sign of the Scapular: on the one hand, the constant protection of the Blessed Virgin, not only on life's journey, but also at the moment of passing into the fullness of eternal glory; on the other, the awareness that devotion to her cannot be limited to prayers and tributes in her honor on certain occasions, but must become a "habit", that is, a permanent orientation of one's own Christian conduct, woven of prayer and interior life, through frequent reception of the sacraments and the concrete practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. In this way the Scapular becomes a sign of the "covenant" and reciprocal communion between Mary and the faithful: indeed, it concretely translates the gift of his Mother, which Jesus gave on the Cross to John and, through him, to all of us, and the entrustment of the beloved Apostle and of us to her, who became our spiritual Mother.