Pledge of Life Eternal|
Our Lady's Gift of the Brown Scapular
See Also: "Living our Scapular Consecration"
Seven centuries ago Our Lady of Mount Camel bequeathed to St. Simon Stock, General of the Carmelite Order, Her priceless gift of the Brown Scapular. To all those who wear Her Scapular in a worthy manner, the Virgin Queen of Carmel makes a wonderful threefold pledge... to protect them during life, to preserve them from the fires of Hell, and to release them from Purgatory on the First Saturday after death!
THE SCAPULAR GIFT
Fondly to be cherished in memory is the beautiful history of the Brown Scapular... the Virgin Mary's efficacious Testimonial of Love, given for our personal spiritual benefit!
In the year 1238, mounting difficulties threatened to overwhelm Our Lady's Carmelite Order. In new and hostile surroundings the Order vainly struggled to survive. During the war of the Crusades fanatical Saracens had driven the Religious Community out of Palestine, its ancient and honored home since the days of the Prophet Elias. Now the exiled Priests and Brothers wandered through Europe, unknown and unwanted. It was apparent that this venerable company of Our Lady's devoted sons might perish forever.
During this dark period of crisis St. Simon Stock, Superior General of the Community, desperately besought the glorious Virgin of Carmel for some special sign of love, for some act of Heavenly Intercession which would bring support to Her Order, and thus strengthen its rapidly weakening ranks.
On the ever memorable day of July 16th, 1251, the Holy Mother of God gave an unprecedented answer to St. Simon's petitions. Radiantly surrounded by a multitude of Angels, Our Lady of Mount Camel appeared to the aged monk as he knelt in prayer at Aylesford, England. Presenting to him the Carmelite Brown Scapular, She made Her Promise of unparalleled generosity to him, his spiritual children, and to all those who wished to consecrate themselves to her by this special sign: "Receive this Brown Scapular. It is a sign of my Brotherhood. It is a Pledge of Salvation, a safeguard in danger. WHOSOEVER DIES WHILE WEARING THE SCAPULAR WILL NEVER SEE THE ETERNAL FLAMES OF HELL."
Like wildfire this Promise of Life Eternal spread throughout Europe. Everywhere people of all classes--Popes and bishops, kings and artisans alike--all heralded Our Lady's generosity, and appealed to be invested with the Brown Scapular. In those centuries, pious men realized that the mantle of Carmel is truly one of Our Lady's greatest gifts to mankind--one of our richest spiritual inheritances from the Holy Mother of God. Pope Benedict XV calls it the "Armor of Our Lady"... safeguarding us during life, and protecting us from the fires of Hell at death. Who would dare fail to be invested in the Scapular? Who would dare fail to wear it piously day and night for life?
THE SCAPULAR -- OUR SIGN OF CONSECRATION
The immeasurable benefits of the Scapular result from the fact that the wearing of Mary's Garb is not merely an external act of devotion; it is a sign of our consecration to the Immaculate Virgin. Therefore, in a most special way, the Scapular recommends us to Her bountiful generosity. At Fatima in 1917, God's Mother appealed to all men to consecrate themselves to Her Immaculate Heart. And in the final Fatima vision on October 13th, the Virgin appeared clothed as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel holding aloft the Brown Scapular, indicating that the fervent living of our Brown Scapular consecration is a necessary part of the amendment of life for which she so earnestly pleaded. Our beloved Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, stressed this important truth: "May the Scapular be a sign to them (all who wear it) of their consecration to the Most Pure Heart of the Immaculate Virgin, which in recent times We have so strongly recommended." (Special Letter - Feb. 11, 1950).
THE SABBATINE PRIVILEGE
So eagerly desirous is Our Lady of Mount Camel to have us consecrate ourselves to Her through Her "Badge of Final Perseverance", that She extends Her intercession for us even beyond the grave! To Pope John XXII the Scapular Madonna revealed Her Saturday (or Sabbatine) Privilege; that on the First Saturday after their death, She will free from Purgatory all Her Scapular children who have fulfilled certain conditions: "I, THE MOTHER OF GRACES, SHALL DESCEND ON THE SATURDAY AFTER THEIR DEATH, AND AS MANY AS I FIND IN PURGATORY I SHALL FREE..."
Fortunately, conditions to gain the Sabbatine Privilege are adapted to old and young alike. In order to fulfill them, the wearer of the Brown Scapular is required to observe chastity according to his state in life, and to recite the Little Office of Our Lady daily. But should one be unable to fulfill even this condition, a priest with the proper faculties can permit its substitution with abstinence from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays, or even some other good work, such as the daily Rosary which Our Lady requested at Fatima.
His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, wrote concerning the Sabbatine Privilege, "Certainly, this most gentle Mother will not delay to open as soon as possible, through Her intercession with God, the gates of Heaven for children expiating their faults in Purgatory..." (Feb. 11, 1950). What more certain, what more glorious Gift of Love can the Queen of Carmel lavish upon us, who are consecrated to Her through Her Garment of Salvation--not only to save us from the danger of Hell but even to lead us through the portals of Heaven on the First Saturday after our death!
THE SCAPULAR MEDAL
In His august zeal that all children of Mary avail themselves of the Scapular Benefits, the Holy Father has recognized that circumstances exist which may render the wearing of the cloth Scapular impossible. That no one be deprived of Our Lady's supreme intercession throughout life and in death, Pope St. Pius X has extended some Scapular Privileges to the Scapular Medal, although He wishes the cloth Scapular to be worn wherever possible (Dec. 16, 1910). Investiture in Our Lady's Garb of Mercy requires the use of the cloth Scapular; thereafter the Scapular Medal may be worn when necessary.
THE AFFILIATION OF
In addition to the marvels of Mary's all-powerful intercession, enrollment in the Brown Scapular confers upon us another matchless prerogative; it makes one an affiliate of all Our Lady's Own Children in the spiritual family of Carmel. On the day of investiture in the Virgin's Garb, the Church prescribes that your name be entered on the register of the Archconfraternity of the Brown Scapular. Thus we share in the prayers of untold thousands of Mary's children who wear her scapular, including those who now wear it her livery triumphantly in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Pope Pius XI referred to this remarkable privilege of "Carmelite Affiliation", and more recently, Pope Pius XII pointed out: "All children of Carmel, whether they live in the cloisters... or are members of the Third Order... or of the Confraternities, belong to the same spiritual family of Our Most Blessed Mother..." Thus, by becoming a privileged member of Our Lady's spiritual family, every interest of Our Lady of Mt. Camel should become our own personal interest. With gratitude to the Queen of Camel for Her Scapular Gift to us, we should become zealous Apostles of Her Scapular, and endeavor extend Her mercies to others:
(1) Take steps to make certain that your family and friends have been enrolled in the Brown Scapular. Encourage your dear ones to fulfill the conditions of the Sabbatine Privilege. Be especially solicitous that the sick and dying are consecrated to the Virgin of Camel through Scapular Enrollment, and that all truly understand what it means to LIVE their Scapular consecration.
(2) Whenever possible, urge groups to strive for Scapular consecration, of all their Members--sodalities and societies, hospitals, schools, etc.
(3) Pope Pius XI gave one command as a watchword to the entire spiritual family of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, "INCREASE, INCREASE! In our Seminaries, young men of high school or college age dedicate themselves to Our Lady, preparing for the fruitful ministry of preaching, teaching, parish work, or the Missions. Encourage suitable candidates to dedicate themselves entirely to Our Lady as Priests and Brothers at a truly traditional Marian seminary, such as St. Francis Seminary. Similarly, young ladies should be encouraged to offer themselves to Our Lady in the Sisterhood as teachers, etc. (Our Lady of La Salette Convent)
ST. THERÉSE, MODERN APOSTLE OF THE SCAPULAR
An outstanding model for us as a Scapular Apostles is the Little Flower of Jesus. From earliest youth she was invested in Our Lady's Garment of Mercy, and fulfilled the conditions of the Sabbatine Privilege. At age 15 she entered the Cloister of Lisieux, consecrating her life to the Scapular Madonna as a Carmelite Nun.
The multitude of blessings the Queen of Camel heaped upon St.Therése are a striking example of the many graces that we may receive from Our Lady as Her beloved Scapular Apostles. Under Mary's guidance St. Therése attained the summits of holiness. In dispensing the treasures of Heaven to all who seek her intercession, the Little Flower of Jesus follows Our Lady of Mt. Carmel's pattern of generosity and unsurpassed liberality. So abundant are the Roses of heavenly favor she showers everywhere (graces and blessings obtained) that the Holy Father has called the Scapular Apostle of Lisieux "God's Messenger of grace to the faithful of the 20th Century... a Prodigy of Miracles!" At her affiliated Shrines her promised "roses" fall in ever-increasing abundance. Since 1897 St. Therése has attracted countless thousands of souls to faithful wearing of the mantle of mercy, the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
Devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel gives us a wonderful claim upon the blessings of Her Sainted daughter, the Little Flower of Jesus. Let us honor the Scapular Queen that St. Therése, too, may lavish upon us her choicest roses of favor and grace. Countless miracles confirm that the Brown Scapular is one of our richest Testimonials of Love during life, at death, and even beyond the grave.