Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost—16 July AD 2017
Ave Maria!



Please continue to pray for Charlie Gard and his parents!



[Ordinary of the Mass ]
[Our Lady of Mount Carmel English Text]
[Our Lady of Mount Carmel Latin Text]
[Blessing of Scapulars]
[Sixth Sunday after Pentecost English Text ]
[Sixth Sunday after Pentecost Latin Text ]

    Today, July 16th, the Church has us celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  In that this feast is connected with one of the most commonly used sacramentals, I thought it might be good to say a few things about the Order of Mount Carmel and the wearing of the Brown Scapular.

    Carmel itself is a mountain in the northern part of the holy land.  It is very close to the Mediterranean coast, due east of the places like Nazareth, Cana, and the Sea of Galilee.  Its biblical fame comes largely from being associated with the Old Testament prophet Elias, about whom we read in the 3rd and 4th Book of Kings; but it is mentioned in several other books of the Bible.[1]

    It is said that ever since the time of Elias their lived a gathering of devout monks on the mountain.  These were men who devoted themselves to prayer, contemplation, and the observance of the Mosaic Law.  There are several examples of such Jewish monastic groups, but the most notable thing about the one on Mount Carmel is that its monks very rapidly embraced Christianity.  It is likely that they were prepared by Saint John the Baptist, received Baptism from the Apostles, and were able to converse personally with the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Thus, when they returned to Carmel they dedicated their monastery and little church to the Blessed Mother—making it, quite possibly, the oldest church dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the world.

    Under Mary's protection the order flourished modestly on Mount Carmel, until the time of the crusades.  In the 12th century, after the Latin Kingdom had been established at Jerusalem, many westerners flocked to Carmel to join the ranks of the holy monks.  Tradition has it that the Blessed Virgin herself influenced Pope Honorius III to recognize the centuries old—but technically new—order, as the former monks became an order of friars. On 30 January, 1226, he approved the Carmelite Order in his Bull “Ut vivendi normam.”[2]  But the survival of the Latin Kingdom was relatively short lived.  Due to political arguments in Western Europe, Christendom proved unable to support this outpost in the Holy Land against the pressure of Moslem invasion.  By the middle of the 13th century, most of the monks were forced to flee to Europe.

    In 1245 the monks were re-established with headquarters in England, and had elected Saint Simon Stock as their Prior General (1247-1265).  The Blessed Mother is said to have given Saint Simon the characteristic habit of the order; its large brown scapular, one which hung approximately to the knees in both front and back, and was roughly a foot wide.

    Even more significantly, when Saint Simon received this habit on the night of the 15-16th of July 1251, the Blessed Virgin promised that anyone clothed in the habit would be preserved from the fires of hell.  A few years later (1316), the Blessed Mother promised the future Pope John XXII that she would deliver her Carmelite faithful from Purgatory on the first Saturday following their death.  Known as the Sabbatine privilege, this has been confirmed by numerous popes.[3]

    The Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel has thus become quite popular, and even to this day, wherever Catholic tradition is observed, children are enrolled in the Confraternity of Mount Carmel and invested with a miniature version of the Carmelite scapular st the time of  their First Communion.

    It is important for us to understand that the Brown Scapular—and this is true for all of the sacramentals of the Church—is not a magic amulet.  Wearing a scapular or one of the medals approved by the church, or carrying a Rosary in your pocket, or decorating your home with holy pictures and blessed palms is of relatively little value, unless you allow those sacramentals to shape your life along Christ-like and Mary-like lines.

    To be described correctly as “wearing the scapular,” one must associate ones' self with the prayers and good works of the Carmelite Order.  One must observe chastity according to one's state in life, and pray the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin.  Those who cannot read may substitute fasting and abstinence on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Those who can read may substitute the regular Office of the Church, or may ask their confessor for permission to substitute the daily Rosary.

    It should be clear from all of this that our Lady is not giving us a "charm" that we can wear, and then go about sinning with abandon.  Our Lady would never even consider such a thing.  But, rather, she is offering us an abundance of her favors and God's graces, and a tool for making ourselves holy.  By our use of this tool—together with the prescribed daily prayer, chastity, and fasting—the Blessed Virgin is able to mold us into holy people.  She is able to form us into Catholics who, with her help, will persevere in grace at the hour of our death.

    Following this Mass, we'll bless scapulars and we'll invest any of you who feel you have not already been invested in the Confraternity of the Scapular.

    Our Lady is offering you tremendous graces through her scapular, through her Rosary, through the various medals and devotions given us in her honor.  But remember that these are but tools—and that it is up to you to use these tools to allow our Blessed Mother to shape you into good and holy people.


[2]   Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Pope Honorius III ”

[3]   Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Sabbatine Privilege”


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