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Seventh Sunday after Pentecost—19 July AD 2020
Ave Maria!


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[ Ordinary of the Mass ]
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Blessing of Scapulars




    This past Thursday was the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but I decided to postpone the blessing of Brown Scapulars until today, so that all of you can take part.  I'll say more about the Scapulars and the Confraternity of the Scapular in a moment, but first I want to put Mount Carmel and the Carmelites in perspective.  Israel can be thought to have two large inland seas--the Sea of Galilee (a.k.a. "Lake of Tiberias" in the map above) in the north, connected by the Jordan River to the Dead Sea in the south.  Mount Carmel is on the Mediterranean coast, due West of the northern Sea of Galilee.  The modern city of Haifa is on the slope of the mountain. The town of Nazareth, where the Holy Family lived, lies between the two, a bit southwest of Galilee.

    In the ninth century before Christ, the prophet Elias was active in Galilee (c.f. 3 & 4 Kings), and established a monastic community on Mount Carmel, where the monks could live the spiritual life, removed from the crowds below.

    In the Divine Office we read:

    that many men who were walking in the footsteps of the prophet Elias ... and had been prepared for the coming of the Christ by the preaching of John the Baptist, saw and acknowledged the truth, and at once embraced the faith of the Gospel. These new Christians were so happy to be able to enjoy the company of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and venerated her with so special an affection, that they, before all others, built a chapel to the purest of Virgins on that very spot of Carmel where Elias of old had seen the cloud, a remarkable type of the Virgin ascending [into heaven].[2] 

    The monks of Mount Carmel, were joined by Crusaders from Europe and received their holy Rule from Albert, the Patriarch of Jerusalem around AD 1210—approved by Pope Honorius III in 1226.[3] Some of the monks left around 1250 because of the Great Schism, and remainder were forced to leave by the Moslems in1291.  Many relocated to Western Europe, and with a certain amount of difficulty, were assimilated by the Western Church as friars. 

    With the help of the Dominicans, the Rule of the Order was modified to better fit mendicant Friars dwelling in cities, rather than in the Holy Land.  The new Rule was promulgated by Pope Innocent IV in his 1247 Bull Quem honorem Conditoris. [4]

    Saint Simon Stock was elected Prior of the Order in Aylesford, England and received the habit of the Order, the large (shoulders to the knees, front and back) Brown Scapular from the Blessed Virgin Mary on July 16, 1251.

    However, the Second Council of Lyon (1274) issued a decree suppressing all religious orders founded after 1215 !  It is said that it took another intercession of the Blessed Virgin to preserve her Order, and in 1286 Honorius IV re-confirmed the Rule.  Boniface VIII officially exempted the Order from the restriction imposed by Lyons II.

    Our Lady promised a very important benefit to Saint Simon Stock for all those clothed with the Scapular—essentially, that those who died would be delivered from Purgatory on the Saturday after their death.  The authenticity of this “Sabbatine Privilege” was debated for several centuries, but in 1613 Pope Paul V issued the following judgment:

    It is permitted to the Carmelite Fathers to preach that the Christian people may piously believe in the help which the souls of brothers and members, who have departed this life in charity, have worn in life the scapular, have ever observed chastity, have recited the Little Hours [of the Blessed Virgin], or, if they cannot read, have observed the fast days of the Church, and have abstained from flesh meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays (except when Christmas falls on such days), may derive after death — especially on Saturdays, the day consecrated by the Church to the Blessed Virgin — through the unceasing intercession of Mary, her pious petitions, her merits, and her special protection.[5]

    As I mentioned a week or two ago, the sacramentals work by inspiring us to live holy lives.  There can be no greater inspiration to grace and holiness than the Blessed Virgin.  Those who associate themselves with her through the Carmelite Order and the Brown Scapular, and live the life outlined by Paul V, have the certainty of her intercession.

    Let me add just two practical observations:

    The obligation to read the Little Hours and to abstain from flesh meat on Wednesday and Saturday may on important grounds be changed for other pious works; the faculty to sanction this change was granted to all confessors by Leo XIII in the Decree of the Congregation of Indulgences of 11 (14) June, 1901.[6]   So ask your Confessor if any of these are a problem.

    The term “clothed with the Scapular” means being enrolled by a priest and wearing It (even the tiny replica) as often as possible.  Carmelites don’t wear their habit when they bathe or go swimming, and one need not fear damnation for taking it off to undergo a medical procedure!

    In closing, I reiterate:  Those who associate themselves with the Blessed Virgin Mary through the Carmelite Order and the Brown Scapular, and live the life outlined by Paul V, have the certainty of her intercession.


Dei via est íntegra


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