Monday, July 16, 2007
Many people wear the Brown Scapular, but few know what it is all about. In the 13th century, our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock who was the leader of the Carmelite order at the time. St. Simon had been asking the Blessed Virgin for help when she appeared to him surrounded by a multitude of angels, and she was holding the brown scapular. Mary told St. Simon: 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.
The Scapular really is the habit of the Carmelite order, and those who wear it and take place in the devotions really in a way become a part of the Carmelite order. There are 3 sort of conditions that one should do in participating in the devotion of the Brown Scapular. 1. (The most obvious) You need to wear the Brown Scapular. I would see no problem in taking off the scapular if you were taking a shower or swimming etc..., as long as of course you have the intention of putting it back on. 2. Observe Chastity according to your state in life. This would mean that if your married you stay faithful to your spouse, and if your single you stay chaste until marriage. If you are a priest, sister, or religious you stay chaste your whole life as you vowed. So you see, it's not just talking about priests, but the virtue of Chastity can be observed by all people. 3. Pray "The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary", or with the permission of the priest you can say the daily rosary instead or some other good work. (Or together with observing the fasts of the Church, abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays.) Also, to make official your devotion in the scapular, it is necessary that you enroll yourself. This is done by a priest (any Roman Catholic priest may do this now) through a special blessing of your first scapular (You do not need to ever repeat this once it's done even if you get another scapular.) through the following prayer: Receive this blessed habit; praying the most holy Virgin, than by Her merits thou may wear it without stain; and that She may guard thee from all evil and bring thee to life everlasting. R. Amen. By the power granted me, I admit thee to the participation of all the spiritual good works, which through the gracious help of Jesus Christ are performed by the religious of Mount Carmel. In the name of the Father, and the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. R. Amen. May the Creator of Heaven and earth, Almighty God, bless + thee; Who has deigned to unite thee to the confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. We beseech Her, in the hour of thy death, to crush the head of the old serpent; so that thou may in the end win the everlasting palm and crown of the heavenly inheritance. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
Finally, I would like to add that the scapular is not a superstition. Namely, that as Catholics, we do NOT put our trust in a piece of cloth for our salvation. No, instead we place our Faith in Jesus Christ Who has given us His Mother. His Mother has promised to help those who acknowledge her in the scapular and follow it. The Scapular is not magic nor a free ticket into Heaven. However, those who observe faithfully this devotion staying close to the Lord can rest assured of Mary's promise: "Whosoever dies clothed in this [scapular] shall not suffer eternal fire."