Saturday, July 16, 2011

Brown Scapular: A Silent Devotion ( part 2 )

The Virgin Mary giving the Scapular to Saint S...Image via Wikipedia( I'm sharing a great article about the Brown Scapular of our Lady of Mount Carmel , written by Father Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD)

Yoke of Christ

If we look for the earliest references to the scapular, we find them in the Carmelite constitutions of 1281 in which it was prescribed that all Carmelite friars should wear their tunics and scapulars to bed under penalty of a serious fault. It was also prescribed that the white mantle be made insuch a way that the scapular would not be hidden.

But the reason for these prescriptions was not a Marian one. At the time, the scapular was seen as signifying the "yoke of Christ." This yoke of Christ in turn pointed to obedience. And that explains the strictness of the legislation. Taking off the scapular was like taking off the yoke of Christ,or rebelling against authority.

Only gradually did the scapular take on a Marian tone and grow until it reached such a point that it became identified with Carmelite piety toward Our Lady. In fact the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel began to be called the scapular feast.

Devotion to Mary expressed by wearing the brown scapular seems to be resilient and resists the attempts made in various periods of history to diminish its value. The faithful keep coming back to it.

From the official teaching of the Church, we can gather that the scapular of Carmel is one of the most highly recommended Marian devotions. This is true through the centuries, and into our own times with popes Paul VI and JohnPaul II.

Sacramental

One of the early Carmelites in his enthusiasm went so far as to call the scapular a "sacrament." Actually the category into which the scapular fits is that of a sacramental.

Sacramentals are sacred signs.  The scapular is what is called a conventional sign. In the case of a conventional sign, the meaning is assigned to the object from outside. Thus a wedding ring is a sign or pledge of mutual love and enduring fidelity between two spouses. In this kind of sign, which is a conventional sign,there has to be an intervention from outside that establishes the connection between the object and what it represents. In the case of sacramentals, it is the Church that determines the connection.

Sacramentals also signify effects obtained through the intercession of theChurch, especially spiritual graces. The sacramentals -- as holy pictures or icons, statues, medals, holy water, blessed palm and the scapular -- are means that dispose one to receive the chief effect of the sacraments themselves, and this is closer union with Jesus.

St. Teresa of Avila for example speaks in her life about holy water and the power she experienced that this sacramental has against the devil. She mentions as well how this power comes not through the object in itself but through the prayer through the prayer of the Church.

Along with the sacraments, sacramentals sanctify almost every aspect of human life with divine grace. The passion, death, and resurrection of Christ is the source of the power of the sacramentals as it is of the sacraments themselves.

Such everyday things as water and words, oil and anointing, cloth and beeswax, paintings and songs are ingredients of the sacraments and sacramentals. The Son of God became the Son of Mary. What could be more down-to-earth, more human, indeed more unpretentious, plain, and simple?

Church position

With regard to the scapular as a conventional and sacred sign, the Church has intervened at various times in history to clarify its meaning, defendit, and confirm the privileges.

From these Church documents there emerges with sufficient clarity the nature and meaning of the Carmelite scapular.

1. The scapular is a Marian habit or garment. It is both a sign and pledge.A sign of belonging to Mary; a pledge of her motherly protection, not only in this life but after death.

2. As a sign, it is a conventional sign signifying three elements strictly joined: first, belonging to a religious family particularly devoted to Mary,especially dear to Mary, the Carmelite Order; second, consecration to Mary,devotion to and trust in her Immaculate Heart; third an incitement to become like Mary by imitating her virtues, above all her humility, chastity, and spirit of prayer.

This is the Church's officially established connection between the sign and that which is signified by the sign.

No mention is made of the vision of St. Simon Stock or of that of Pope JohnXXII ( 22 - not the red 23 ) in relation to the Sabbatine privilege, which promises that one will be released from Purgatory on the first Saturday after death.

Nonetheless, the Carmelites have also been authorized to freely preach to the faithful that they can piously believe in the powerful intercession, merits, and suffrages of the Blessed Virgin, that she will help them even after their death, especially on Saturday, which is the day of the week particularly dedicated to Mary, if they have died in the grace of God and devoutly worn the scapular. But no mention is made of the "first" Saturday after their death.

If some day an historian were to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that there are no grounds to the Marian apparition to St. Simon Stock or the scapular promise, the scapular devotion would still maintain its value. The Church's esteem of it as a sacramental, her appreciation of its meaning and of the good that has come about through its pious use on the part of the faithful is all that is needed.

Gospel message

St. John of the Cross teaches that we ought not waste a lot of time and energy trying to discern whether or not a vision is authentic, but that we accept and follow it only insofar as the message is in accord with the Gospels and with what has already been revealed in Jesus Christ. Faith requires us to live with complete trust in God and in darkness with respect to seeing God or his saints.

The scapular as a sign is rich in meaning. I think that after we consider the official interpretations of the scapular, we can discover in it our own personal meaning. I like to think of it as a sign of Mary's quiet presence, for the scapular is a silent devotion.

There are no prayers to be said. It reminds us of the contemplative aspect of our Christian life. Contemplation is what our saints wrote so much about.Contemplation is an ever-deepening silence in loving presence to God. It is in this silence that God best speaks to us.

Mary is the Church's greatest contemplative. In her silence she heard those extraordinary words spoken to her by the Lord -- "Blessed are you among women." And so Elizabeth could add: "Blessed are you who believed."
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Brown Scapular: A Silent Devotion ( part1 )

Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saints (Simon Sto...Image via Wikipedia( I'm sharing a great article about the Brown Scapular of our Lady of Mount Carmel , written by Father Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD) 


During the Crusades in 12th century, a group of Westerners took up the lifeof hermits by the well of St. Elijah on Mt. Carmel. They built a chapel in honor of the Mother of Jesus, conscious that they were living in the area made holy by Jesus and his Mother (Nazareth is less than 20 miles away).

When Saracens toppled the Latin kingdom of the Crusaders, the hermits of Carmel had to flee the holy mountain and return to the West -- to Cypress ,Sicily, France, England, Ireland and other countries. They brought with them little more than their title of "Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel."

In Europe they were entering a hostile world cluttered with many new religious families. The arrival of strangers from Mount Carmel was inauspicious, they were frowned upon. Internally, they were divided as towhether they should cling to their background as hermits or adapt to a newstatus of begging friars.

According to tradition, as an important fact in the midst of these difficulties, Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to the prior general, St.Simon Stock, at Aylesford, England. According to tradition, Our Ladyappeared on July 16, 1251.

The Blessed Virgin promised St. Simon Stock, oppressed with worries, that whoever would wear the Carmelite habit devoutly would receive the gift offinal perseverance. The habit was taken to mean the scapular in particular.

The scapular was a broad band of cloth over the shoulders, falling below the knees toward the feet front and back as an apron, worn still as part of the religious habit by a number of orders of monks and friars. As it was gradually adapted for use by the laity, it became two small panels of brown cloth joined by strings and worn over the shoulders as a familiar Marian sacramental.

From the 16th century until the Second Vatican Council the scapular received warm welcome from the faithful and enjoyed a singular approval by the Church magisterium. Part of the reason for this esteem was undoubtedly the constant stream of wonderful graces, spiritual and temporal, that were poured out on individuals through its devout use.

But another reason for its popularity was its strict connection with the last things, with the salvation of our soul, which takes priority over all our other duties here below.

Crisis

After the Second Council, the scapular devotion suffered the same "crisis of rejection" that so many other practices and teachings within the Catholic Church.

First, it was said that St. Simon Stock never even existed. As a consequence, his feast day, which had been celebrated on May 16, the date of his death, was expunged from the liturgical calendar.

Second, if he never existed, then we must do away with the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the scapular devotion. The effort was then made by a liturgical committee to expunge Our Lady of Mount Carmel from the liturgical calendar, but the Latin American bishops protested so vehemently that the feast was kept; however, on condition that nothing be mentioned about the scapular.

One of the internationally renowned Mariologists of our order, Father Nilo Geagea from Lebanon then set about doing a very thorough research into the whole history of devotion to Mary in our order.

The result of his years of study is a huge wonderfully researched and documented volume published by the Teresian Historical Institute in 1988; soit is a fairly recent study. The title of the book is "Maria Madre e Decorodel Carmelo."

Through painstaking demonstration, Father Nilo shows how even the most intransigent critic could not put into reasonable doubt the historical existence of St. Simon Stock. St. Simon Stock's feast day was, in fact,restored by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments in 1979.
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Blessed Feast of our Lady of Mount Carmel


O God, Who hast honored the Order of the most blessed Mary, ever a virgin, Thy Mother, with the special title of Carmel, graciously grant that we, who this day celebrate her commemoration with solemn service, may, being protected by her maternal care, be worthy to attain to everlasting joys. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God,
Forever and ever.Amen

The Story of Our Lady of Mount Carmel



On July 16, 1251, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, the Father of the Carmelite Order, and presented him with the Scapular. St. Simon's story began as an English hermit that lived in the hollow of a tree. He received the name "stock" because he lived in the hollowed trunk or stock of a tree. In time he would become a Carmelite and later the Father General of the order. He led the order during a time of great struggle.
The Carmelites in the beginning were hermits on Mount Carmel, near Nazareth in the Holy Land. When they migrated to Europe, in this case England, some decided to no longer be hermits and instead became friars who would work among the people. St. Simon guided them through this state of transition.
In the year 1251 a miraculous vision took place. St. Simon Stock, newly transplanted to England, prayed fervently to Our Lady for Her help. Then: To him appeared the Blessed Virgin with a multitude of angels, holding the Scapular of the order in her blessed hands.

Mary's Promise to Those Who Wear the Scapular

Our Lady gave St. Simon a scapular for the Carmelites with the following promise, saying : 
Receive, My beloved son, this habit of thy order: this shall be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire .... It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger, and a pledge of peace.

Another important aspect of wearing the Scapular is the Sabbatine Privilege. This concerns a promise made by Our Lady to Pope John XXII ( 22 not the red 23 ). In a papal letter he issued, he recounted a vision that he had had. He stated that the Blessed Virgin had said to him in this vision, concerning those who wear the Brown Scapular: "I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory, I shall free, so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting."

Let us pray :
Flos Carmeli

This is the prayer of St. Simon Stock, to whom the Scapular devotion with its promise was given. It has for seven centuries been called a prayer to the Blessed Mother which has never been known to fail in obtaining her powerful help.

O beautiful Flower of Carmel, most fruitful Vine,
Splendor of Heaven, holy and singular,
who brought forth the Son of God, still ever remaining
a Pure Virgin, assist me in this necessity.
(here we present our prayer intention)
O Star of the Sea, help and protect me!
Show me that thou art my Mother.

O Mary, Conceived without sin,
Pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Mother and Ornament of Carmel, Pray for us!
Virgin, Flower of Carmel, Pray for us!
Patroness of all who wear the Scapular, Pray for us!
Hope of all who die wearing the Scapular, Pray for us!
St. Joseph, Friend of the Sacred Heart, Pray for us!
St. Joseph, Chaste Spouse of Mary, Pray for us!
St. Joseph, Our Patron, Pray for us!
O sweet Heart of Mary, be my Salvation!


another Prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

O Most Blessed and Immaculate Virgin, ornament and beauty of Mount Carmel, thou who beholdest with thy special kindness those who wear thy blessed Scapular, look lovingly upon me, and cover me with the mantle of thy motherly protection. 
Fortify my weakness with thy power, enlighten the darkness of my understanding with thy wisdom, increase Faith, Hope and Charity in me, adorn my soul with the graces and virtues that will make me pleasing to thee and thy divine Son. 
Assist me during my life, and console me at the hour of my death and present me to the most blessed Trinity as thy devoted servant, to praise and bless thee in heaven forever. Amen

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast



According to the most ancient Carmelite chronicles, the Order has its origins with the disciples of the prophets Elias and Eliseus. They lived in caves on Mount Carmel. They honored the Queen of Heaven as the Virgin who is to give birth to the Saviour. When the reality replaced the symbol, the pious ascetics of Carmel were converted to the Christian Faith. In the 12th century, many pilgrims from Europe who had followed the Crusaders came to join the solitaries. A rule was established and the Order began to spread to Europe.

Amid the many persecutions raised against the Order of Mount Carmel, newly arrived in Europe, Saint Simon Stock, General of the Order, turned with filial confidence to the Blessed Mother of God. As he knelt in prayer on July 16, 1251, in the White Friars’ convent at Cambridge, She appeared before him and presented him with the well-known brown scapular, a loose sleeveless garment destined for the Order of Carmel, reaching from the shoulders to the knees. It was given as an assurance, for all who died wearing it, of Her heavenly protection from eternal death. An extraordinary promise indeed, but one requiring a life of prayer and sacrifice.

Devotion to the blessed habit spread quickly throughout the Christian world. Pope after Pope enriched it with indulgences, and innumerable miracles put their seal upon its efficacy. The first of them was worked at Winchester on a man dying in despair, who when the scapular was laid upon him by Saint Simon Stock at once asked for the Sacraments.

In the year 1636, a certain gentleman, member of a cavalry regiment, was mortally wounded at the battle of Tehin, a bullet having lodged near his heart. He was then in a state of grievous sin, but he had time to make his confession. Afterwards a surgeon probed his wound, and the bullet was found to have driven his scapular into his heart. When it had been withdrawn he soon expired, making profound acts of gratitude to the Blessed Virgin who had prolonged his life miraculously, thereby preserving him from the irremediable death of his soul.

At Lourdes in 1858, the Virgin chose to make Her last apparition on July 16th, feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the day the Church commemorates Her apparition to Saint Simon Stock. And at Fatima on October 13, 1917, it is as Our Lady of Mount Carmel that Mary appeared when She said farewell to the three children. Throughout the ages, the Queen of Carmel has always kept a faithful watch over the destinies of Her cherished children on earth.

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel


Eternal Father, I offer You the most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus Christ , in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, for those in my own home and in my family. Amen

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WEAR THE GARMENT OF GRACE ~~ BROWN SCAPULAR ~~


O Mary, Queen and Mother of Carmel, I come today to consecrate myself to thee, for my whole life is but a small return for the many graces and blessings that have come from God to me through thy immaculate hands.

Since thou look with special kindness on those who wear thy Scapular, I implore thee to strengthen my weakness with thy power, to enlighten the darkness of my mind with thy wisdom, and to increase in me Faith, Hope and Charity that I may repay each day my debt of humble homage to thee.

May thy Holy Scapular bring me thy special protection in my daily struggle to be faithful to thy Divine Son and to thee. May it separate me from all that is sinful in life and remind me constantly of my duty to imitate thy virtues.

From now on, I shall strive to live in God's Presence, and offer all to Jesus through thee. Dearest Holy Mother, support me by thy never-failing love and lead me to paradise through the merits of Christ and thy own intercession. Amen.

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