O Mary Immaculate, Beauty of Carmel, you offer us your scapular, the very garment of your grace. By it, grant us graces to be your true children and grow in humility, obedience, holiness and purity.
Today, 16 July, we honor Our Blessed Mother under her title, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It is a title particularly pleasing to her, as she appeared at Fatima on 13 October, 1917 wearing the Carmelite habit and holding the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel as if offering it to mankind. To her children, Mary’s suggestions are her commands and we would have expected that this apparition alone caused all devout Catholics worldwide to subsequently become enrolled in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There should have been a vast movement of priests preaching this devotion, with Pope and Bishops leading the way. However, we all know that nothing of the sort happened.
And yet the Scapular is an important sign of predestination. Our Lady revealed her desire that her children wear the scapular on this day in 1251 when she gave the first scapular to Saint Simon Stock. Her words to him:
“Accept this Scapular. It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies clothed in this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.”
She again appeared to Saint Bernadette at Lourdes, robed in the Carmelite habit to emphasise the importance of wearing the scapular on the same date, July 16, in 1858. And of course, at her last visit to Fatima, October 13, 1917, she also wore the Carmelite habit and held out the brown Scapular. Thus, she has clearly expressed to us her preference for this especial devotion.
In his wonderful book, Divine Intimacy, Father Gabriel tells us,
“The Blessed Virgin is a Mother who clothes us with grace and takes our supernatural life under her protection, in order to bring it to its full flowering in eternal life….The Scapular, the little habit, that Our Lady of Mount Carmel offers us, is only the external symbol of her unceasing, maternal care: the symbol, but also the sign, the pledge of eternal salvation. ‘My beloved son’, Mary said to St. Simon Stock, ‘Take this scapular…whoever dies clothed in it will not suffer eternal fire’. The Blessed Virgin gives the assurance of the supreme grace of final perseverance to all who wear worthily her little habit.”(Divine Intimacy, p. 1146, published by TAN Books.)
In Isaiah 32, verses 16-18, we read, “And judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and justice shall sit in Carmel. And the work of justice shall be peace, and the service of justice quietness, and security for ever. And my people shall sit in the beauty of peace, and in the tabernacles of confidence, and in wealthy rest.” Now, by the “wealthy rest” is not meant the protestant gospel of prosperity, which makes a virtue of usurious materialism, but the spiritual wealth accruing from a firm commitment to the sanctification of our souls by following Christ in justice. Carmel signifies Garden and Mary’s Immaculate Heart is truly a Garden of virtues to which she welcomes her children, those who wear her habit, even the little habit of her Brown Scapular.
It was such a delight to discover that Carmel means garden in Hebrew, because I have always pictured interiorly the Annunciation as occurring in Mary’s garden in Nazareth. In my heart, I visit her there each day to begin my Rosary with her First Joyful Mystery. Of course, the Mysteries of the Rosary being so interlinked with significance, that first mystery always leads one to Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, which is the First Sorrowful Mystery. And thus Mary’s sweet, obedient, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” is irrevocably linked to Our Lord’s obedience in, “Yet not My will, but Thine be done, Father.” And then of course, we note the Resurrection of Our Lord and His meeting with Magdalene, also in the Garden!
It is true that our humble obedience will inevitably lead us, especially in these days of the Passion of the Mystical Body of Christ, to our own Gethsemane, our own, “Not my will, but Thine be done, Father.” The scapular will, if worn in the right spirit, enable us to silence the tumult of the world, the flesh and the devil that stir us always to so much discontent and doubt. Wear Our Lady’s scapular and join her in her Garden and you will find rest for your soul and nourishment for the way of the cross we all must follow if we are to serve Our Lord in truth and in justice.
Prayer of St. Simon Stock
“O Mary, flower of Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, who brought forth the Son of God yet remained a Virgin, Sweet and Immaculate Mother, grant the favors that your children ask, O Star of the Sea”.
It is easy to make your own Brown Scapular. Once you get the hang of it, you can then make them for others. The website, Scapular of Mount Carmel is a good site for inexpensive supplies and also information regarding the correct size and other specified requirements for the scapulars. I can vouch for the quality of their supplies; the woven brown wool is soft and very durable and the brown cord ribbon doesn’t roll up like that used on the scapulars sold elsewhere. They also have the ritual for enrolling in the Scapular of Mount Carmel that you can print out for your priest to use, if he is unfamiliar.
If you should desire to spread this wonderful devotion, may I suggest a great help is The Fatima Center’s beautiful booklet, “Our Lady’s Garment, The Brown Scapular: a Sign of Salvation and Protection.
Many saints have recommended the devotion of wearing Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s Brown Scapular and I cannot hope to improve on their words. My own testimony is simply that the practice of wearing Our Lady’s Scapular, her little habit, has gradually brought me to the realization that she is truly my Mother. I am flooded with gratitude even as I write these words, “my Mother!” As you wear her scapular, you are participating in a seemingly passive devotion, wearing her scapular, such a simple thing. Or is it? Try it for a while and you will find out what it means to be a child of the very Mother of Our Savior Himself.
With His dying words, Our Lord gave us His Mother and commanded her to be our Mother. The awesome responsibility and the incomprehensible graces attached to this will dawn on you as you wear her little habit and visit with her in her Rosary Garden daily.
May all who read this avail themselves of this modest devotion. Wear her Scapular, pray her Rosary and you will have a joyful part in the triumph of her Immaculate Heart!
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us now and at the hour of our death!
Immaculate heart of Mary, Queen of the most Holy Rosary, flower of Carmel, be Queen of our hearts!
~ by evensong for love of the Immaculata, Beautiful Flower of Carmel.