“The sign of the Scapular nourishes the devotion of believers and makes them sensitive to the Virgin Mother's loving presence in their lives. The Scapular is essentially a 'habit'. Those who receive it are associated with the Order of Carmel and dedicate themselves to the service of Our Lady for the good of the whole Church.
Therefore two truths are evoked by the sign of the Scapular:
- 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
- the awareness that devotion to Mary 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.”
“When on the holy day of Pentecost the Apostles, through heavenly inspiration, spake in foreign tongues, and worked many wonders by the invocation of the most sacred Name of Jesus ; it is said that many men, who were walking in the footsteps of the holy prophets Elijah and Elisha, and had been prepared for the coming of Christ by the heralding of John the Baptist, saw and were assured of the truth. They at once embraced the faith of the Gospel, and began to venerate the most blessed Virgin (whose conversation and familiar intercourse they were happily able to enjoy) with a certain peculiar affection, so that they, before all others, built a chapel to that purest of Virgins on that very spot of Mount Carmel where Elijah of old had seen a cloud arising, a remarkable symbol of the Virgin.”
From the Divine Office: “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 Order devoted to the contemplative life under the patronage of Mary, the holy Mother of God.”
here, the Feast of Saint Simon Stock), the Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Simon, bestowing upon him the Brown Scapular. Saint Simon was a hermit who eventually joined the Carmelite Order, and after many years of tireless work in service of his brothers, was elected Vicar General. Following his election, he was graced with a visitation of Our Blessed Mother. According to Carmelite tradition, July 16, 1251, St. Simon Stock was given the Brown Scapular by the Blessed Virgin Mary, who said to him:
“Receive, my dear son, this scapular of thy Order, as the distinctive sign of my confraternity, and the mark of the privilege which I have obtained for thee and the children of Carmel. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in danger, and a special pledge of peace and protection till the end of time. Whosoever dies wearing this shall be preserved from eternal flames.”
Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi, OCD, an authority on Carmelite spirituality, wrote that devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel means:
“a special call to the interior life, which is preeminently a Marian life. Our Lady wants us to resemble her not only in our outward vesture but, far more, in heart and spirit. If we gaze into Mary's soul, we shall see that grace in her has flowered into a spiritual life of incalcuable wealth: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted oblation to God, continual contact, and intimate union with him. Mary's soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone, where no human creature has ever left its trace, where love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind reign supreme. Those who want to live their devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to the full must follow Mary into the depths of her interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, the life wholly dedicated to the quest for God, wholly orientated towards intimacy with God; and the one who has best realized this highest of ideals is Our Lady herself, 'Queen and Splendor of Carmel'."
(For a detailed explanation of the Scapular, written by Carmelite Sisters, click here.)
A PRAYER TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN, OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL
O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Splendor of Heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
assist me this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea,
help me and show me herein you are my Mother.
O Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
Queen of Heaven and Earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart,
to succor me in this necessity;
there are none that can withstand your power.
O, show me herein you are my Mother,
O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to thee.
I place this cause in your hands.