Our Lady of Mount Carmel 
and the Brown Scapular

"Whosoever shall die wearing my Scapular shall not suffer the flames of Hell." - The Blessed Virgin Mary

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The Scapular

The Brown Scapular

The Carmelite Order

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Saint Simon Stock

Saint Teresa of Avila

Saint John of the Cross

Saint Therese of Lisieux

True Carmelite Monks


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


After reading the above quote you might be thinking: "OK! Where do I sign up!?!"  I would be glad for that, but one must remember that the Scapular is not some magical thing that makes it alright to go do whatever you want.  Still it makes what Mary said no less true.  What She meant when She said that was that those who would wear the Scapular would be those who were devoted to Her and lived a life of holiness, which of course would lead one to attain salvation.  The scapular is merely and outward sign of an great love and devotion to our Blessed Mother.  

What is a Scapular?

A scapular is a garment worn by religious over the shoulders (scapula), and hanging down in front and back, usually to about the bottom of the habit. It developed as a practical garment, protecting the habit during work, and was in time invested with spiritual significance, consecration or dedication to God.

By analogy to the scapulars of religious, there are small scapulars that are derived from them which represent a particular devotion or spirituality, usually associated with a particular community. Such a scapular is two pieces of cloth (generally about an inch square), connected by cords and worn over the head. It often has a picture or a particular color, depending on the spirituality it stands for.

The best known and most highly esteemed scapular, and the one most favored by the Church, and by the Blessed Virgin in many of her apparitions, is the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. It is adapted from the scapular of the Carmelite Order and represents a special Consecration to Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Those who wear it practice it a special devotion to Mary. In the past this was the Little Office of Our Lady, but today this can be commuted by any priest to the rosary. In addition, the person has a special entrustment of themselves to Mary for their salvation. This, in fact, has been promised to those who faithfully wear the scapular:  "Those who die wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire." This must not be understood superstitiously or magically, but in light of  Catholic teaching that perseverance in faith, hope and love are required for salvation. The scapular is a powerful reminder of this Christian obligation and of Mary's promise to help those consecrated to her obtain the grace of final perseverance.

by Colin B. Donovan, STL

 

History

(from the Norther American Provincials of the Carmelite Order)

Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is bound to the history and spiritual values of  the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular.  Thus, whoever receives the scapular becomes a member of the order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life.

 

A Marian Plan of Evangelical Life

The Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin was born on Mount Carmel, in the Holy Land, in the twelfth century.  A group of hermits who came from the west settled there to live after the example of Christ in his land.  At their request, the Patriarch Albert gave then a rule of life that demanded  of them, among other things, to build and oratory among their cells, where they could gather for the celebration of the Eucharist.  They dedicated the oratory to Mary, and thus they were meant to bind themselves to her in a special way, so that they were identified, at first by the people, and later officially, as the "Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel."

Thus, the matter in which the Carmelites follow the gospel takes on a depply Marian Character. Mary: 

  • magnifies the Lord and exults in the wonders of his merciful love (cf. Lk 1:46);
  • listen to and ponders in her heart all the things concerning Jesus (cf. Lk 2:19, 51);
  • identifies herself with her people, especially those in need, the spiritually and materially poor, the marginalized (cf. Lk 1:52-53ff, Jn 2:3);and 
  • is constant in prayer, open to fire of the Spirit (cf. Ac 1:14; 2:1-4) who is the strength of all apostolic gifts.

In the Fraternity of Carmel 

From of old, they were faithful who were attracted by this ideal way of life and its characteristics and asked to be able to share in it.  Their circumstances as family people who lived in the word were no obsticale to thier sharing in the fraternity of Carmel.

The visible sign of reception of this fraternity was the habit (or part of the habit) of the order.  At first the special sign of the mantle, but soon after it became the scapular.

The scapular of Carmel, or the habit (also called by other names in different places), is one of the devotions most loved by the people of God.  The great diffusion of the scapular seems to have been due to the tradition of a vision of our Lady, documented at least since the end of the fourteenth century.

During one of its difficult times, the order asked to get full recognition and stability within the Church.  Mary, Patroness of Carmel, seemed to have answered this plea with a vision to the English Carmelite, St. Simon Stock.  She held in her hand the scapular and assured the holy prior general, saying:

"This is a privilege for you and the order: whoever dies wearing this Scapular will be saved."  Later it is widely believed that the Virgin would deliver from Purgatory, on the first  Saturday after death, the Carmelites and people associated with them who observed chastity according to their state, reciting prayers, and wore the bait of Carmel.   This is the so-called Sabbatine Privilege.

The faithful then quickly understood that to wear the bait meant to enter into the fraternity of the order and of Mary.  By responding to the love of the Virgin, they lived secure under her protection in all the dangerous of life and, at the hour of death, confident that even after death she would intervene on their behalf, she who "with her maternal love takes care of the brothers of her Son... until they are led to the blessed land."

More recently, thanks to a deeper understanding of our tradition and the fruit of research and of the process of renewal in the whole Church, the approach to popular devotions and, therefore, to the scapular, has changed.

As a result of the history and evolution of devotion to Mary through the scapular, there are today several categories of devotees according  to the degree of identification with and affiliation to the family of Carmel.  These may be listed as follows:

a) The religious men and women.

b)The Secular Order (also called Third Order).

c) Those who belong to the Confraterinity of the Scapular.

d) ALl those who recieve the scapular and live according to its spirituality in various degrees of association with the order.

e) Those who recieve the scapular and liver according to its spirituality, but have no formal association with the order.

f) All are committed to put into practice the Marian characteristic of Carmelite spirituality wholly and fervently, but in forms which correspond to the nature of the bond that ties them to the family of Mary.   

 

Investiture

Conferral with the scapular indicates a special devotion and consecration to Mary. No one should undertake it who is not spiritual prepared to live in accordance with it.

The short form of investing or conferral consists of a priest or deacon taking a blessed scapular and while placing it over their head reciting with the person any Marian prayer (e.g. Hail Mary, Memorare, Salve Regina). The person is now invested. They don't have any lists to join, though they are henceforth members of the Scapular Confraternity and share in its spiritual benefits (the prayers of the members). No special daily practices are obliged, though someone consecrated to Mary, of which the scapular is THE sign, should live chastity according to their state and recite the rosary daily.

There is also a long form in the Book of Blessings, chapter 46, which is very fitting for group investments. Every parish should have this ritual book.

For some years the Carmelite Order had permission from Rome to grant laity the Indult to enroll people. This permission is no longer given, but those who received the Indult in the past still have it. So, while laity may not bless a scapular, there are some lay people who can invest others, with a scapular previously blessed by a priest or deacon.

One final note, investing MUST be done with the cloth scapular. Those who wish to wear the medal can do so after investment. The scapular blessing attaches to each subsequent scapular. A new blessing is NOT required. This is not true of the medal, each of which must be blessed by a priest or deacon.

by Colin B. Donovan, STL


Saint Alphonsus Liguori and the Brown Scapular with Clarification of the Sabbatine Privilege 

In bygone days, the servants of famous people were distinguished by the fact that they wore the livery or distinct garb of their masters.  The servants of Mary, too, can be distinguished by the fact that they wear her livery, namely, her scapular, as a sign that they have dedicated themselves to her service and that they are members of the household of the Mother of God.  Heretics, as a rule, ridicule this devotion.  But Holy Church has approved it by many bulls and indulgences.  Father Crasset and Lezzana, in their accounts of the scapular of Mount Carmel, relate that in the year 1251 the Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Simon Stock, and Englishmen, and gave him the scapular, telling him that all who wore it would be saved from eternal damnation.  She said: "Receive, my son, this scapular to your Order, the badge of my confraternity, a privilege granted to you and to all Carmelites.  Whoever dies while wearing this will never suffer hell-fire."

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Father Crasset also relates that Mary appeared to Pope John XXII and commanded him to make it known that all who wear this brown scapular will be delivered from purgatory on the Saturday after their death.  He declared this in a bull which was later confirmed by Alexander V, Clement VII, and other popes.  Pope Paul V, as we have already remarked, clarified the bulls of his predecessors, and set out the conditions that must be observed in order to gain the promised privilege.  These conditions are: that each one should observe the chastity required of his state in life and that he should recite the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin.  If a person is unable to read, he should at least observe the fasts of the Church and abstain from the meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

 

The indulgences attached to the scapular of Mount Carmel, as well as those attached to the scapulars of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, of the Blessed Trinity, and especially of the Immaculate Conception, are innumerable—both partial and plenary—during life and at the hour of death.  I have made it a point to be invested in all these scapulars.  It is worth knowing that the scapular of the Immaculate Conception, which is blessed by the Theatine Fathers, enjoys many special indulgences.

-Taken from the supplamental material in The Glories of Mary, by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, published by Liguori Publications.