Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The world in which we live is full of material things that have symbolic meaning: light, fire, water… there are also, in everyday life, experiences of relationships between human beings, which express and symbolize deeper realities such as taking part in a protest march (as a sign of solidarity), joining together in a national celebration (as a sign of identity).

We need signs and symbols to help us understand what is happening at present, or what happened before, and to give us an awareness of who we are, as individuals and as groups.

Jesus is the great sign of the Father’s love. He founded the Church as a sign and instrument of His love. Christian life also has its signs. Jesus used bread, wine, water to help us understand higher things, which we can neither see or touch.

In the celebration of the Eucharist and the other sacraments (baptism, confirmation, reconciliation, matrimony, orders, the sacrament of the sick) the symbols, (water, oil, the laying on of hands, the rings,) all have their own meaning and bring us into.

As well as liturgical signs, the Church has others related to some event, to some tradition or some person. One of these is the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

It is a sign approved by the Church and accepted by the Carmelite Order as an external sign of love for Mary, of the trust her children have in her, and of commitment to live like her.

The word scapular indicates a form of clothing, which monks wore when they were working. With the passage of time, people began to give symbolic meaning to it: the cross to be borne every day as disciples and followers of Christ. In some religious orders, such as the Carmelites, the Scapular turned into a sign of their way of life. The Scapular came to symbolize the special dedication of Carmelites to Mary, the Mother of God, and to express trust in her motherly protection as well as the desire to be like her in her commitment to Christ and to others. Thus it became a sign of Mary.

In the Middle Ages many Christians wanted to be associated with the orders founded at that time: Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, and Carmelites. Groups of lay people began to emerge in associations such as confraternities and sodalities.

All the religious orders wanted to give these lay people a sign of affiliation and of participation in their spirit and apostolate. That sign was often a part of their habit: a cloak, a cord, a scapular.

Among the Carmelites, the stage came when a smaller version of the Scapular was accepted as the sign of belonging to the Order and an expression of its spirituality.

The Blessed Virgin teaches us:

To be open to God, and to his will, shown to us in the events of our lives;

To Listen to the Word of God in the Bible and in life, to believe in it and to put into practice its demands;

To pray at all times, as a way of discovering the presence of God in all that is happening around us;

To be involved with people, being attentive to their needs.

The Scapular finds its roots in the tradition of the Order, which has seen in it a sign of Mary’s motherly protection. It has therefore, a centuries old spiritual meaning approved by Church.

It stands for a commitment to follow Jesus, like Mary, the perfect model of all the disciples of Christ. This commitment finds its origin in baptism by which we become children of God.

It leads us into the community of Carmel, a community of religious men and women, which has existed in the Church for over eight centuries.

It reminds us of the example of the saints of Carmel, with whom we establish a close bond as brothers and sisters to one another.

It is an expression of our belief that we will meet God in eternal life, aided by the intercession and prayers of Mary.

Text by the joint OCD and OCarm Commission in Rome, 1999

Posted on Ave Maria
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One comment on “The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
  1. Mary Lauer says:

    I have a question: does Pope Benedict XVI still encourage the wearing of the brown scapular in association with sacraments, devotions, fasting, daily prayer as a way to escape hell? Among Catholics there is debate about this, but I don’t trust the debates because of Satan’s working against truth in our world. I understand that wearing the scapular gives someone a chance for final repentance before death. What does Pope Benedict say?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Ave Maria Online Magazine
Extravagant displays of devotion to Mary gets curtailed as world culture emphasizes the rational, scientific and technological aspects of life. There seems to be no more time for the more affective expressions of religion.

  Then, after a while, people get fed up with the absolutely rational and logical culture, and rediscover religion and the affective part of the human soul and its needs.

  And Mary is one of those.

Pledge to pray the rosary

Love and support for Pope Francis
The Church is certainly a human and historical institution with all that entails, yet her nature is not essentially political but spiritual: the Church is the People of God, Holy People of God making its way to encounter Jesus Christ. Only from this perspective can a satisfactory account be given of the Church's life and activity.

  Christ is the Church's Pastor, but his presence in history passes through the freedom of human beings; from their midst one is chosen to serve as his Vicar, the successor of the Apostle Peter.

  Yet Christ remains the center, not the Sucessor of Peter: Christ, Christ is the centre.

Pledge 3 Hail Marys for Pope Francis

A Million Roses for the World
A gift of love, faith and goodwill from the people of the Philippines. Pope Pius IX once said: “Give me an army praying a million rosaries a day and we will conquer the world.” We are not out to conquer the world…but to save it for God to whom it rightly belongs.

Browse our archives
%d bloggers like this: