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Wearing the Scapular

brown scapularAs you have probably noticed, much of the Mt. Carmel novena has focussed on the scapular – shown on the right. But what about the scapular? I’ve been wearing one for a few years now. Here is some information about the brown scapular that our own Carmelite sisters put together for the novena last year:

Ask someone about the “Scapular” and you will likely be told it is a religious object associated with the Blessed Virgin.
The Brown Scapular consists of two small panels of cloth joined by strings and worn over the shoulders. Generally, one panel bears a woven or printed image showing the vision of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to St. Simon Stock, while the other bears the image of Our Lady with the Child Jesus.
For centuries, the Scapular has been one of the most popular Marian devotions, second only to Our Lady’s Rosary. As a sacramental, it has been enriched by the Church with many spiritual blessings.
On July 16, 1261, at Aylesford in Kent England, according to tradition, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite, and made the Scapular a sign of her protection. With it came the promise that whoever wore her “habit” devoutly would be assured of eternal salvation. This is the Scapular promise of eternal perseverance.
Carmelites have always regarded themselves as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel,” and place their lives of Christ-centered prayer under her patronage.
~ Rev. Eamon R. Carroll, O. Carm.

Signs in Ordinary Human Life
The world in which we live is full of material things which have symbolic meaning to us, such as, light, fire and water.
There are also, in every day life, experiences of relationships between human beings. These experiences express and symbolize deeper meanings in our lives. Sharing a meal is a sign of friendship; joining together in a national celebration is a sign of our 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.

Signs in Christian Life
Jesus is the great sign and the embodiment 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 and water to help us understand higher things…things which we can neither see nor touch.
All our Christian celebrations, particularly the sacraments, are signs with special meaning. At the Eucharist the sign is bread and wine; during baptism it is water; as hands are laid on the sick it is the anointing with oil; and in the marriage ceremony it is the giving and receiving of rings. Each of these signs brings us into communion with God, Who, in different ways, is present in each of them.

The Scapular is a Sign of Mary
It is a sign approved by the Church and endorsed by the Crmelite Order as an external sign of Mary’s love for us. It confirms our love and trust in her, and our commitment to live like her.
With the passage of time,l people began to give symbolic meaning to the Scapular as a sign of commitment to follow Jesus Christ, our Savior, in the spirit of Mary.

The Scapular is not:

  • A magical charm to protect you
    An automatic guarantee of salvation
    An excuse for not living up to the demands of the Christian life
  • However the Scapular:

  • points to a renewed hope of encountering God in eternal life with the help of Mary’s protection and intercession
    stands for thee decision to follow Jesus and imitate Mary, calling us to be…
    – open to God and to His Will
    – guided by faith, hope and love
    – close to the needs of people
    – prayerful, penitent and chaste
    – conscious of God present in all that happens around us
  • In the art of spiritual warfare, I have often heard it referred to as a sort of shield. I think of it as an extra little sign, a personal reminder of devotion and commitment to the Blessed Virgin, through whom we strive to know and love Jesus and work for the salvation of souls.

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