For many years my children and I would tie-dye brightly colored T-shirts. As a homeschooling family this exercise served many purposes. For the slightly older children, we would explore the science behind the process of tinting fabric. The children loved the creativity unleashed in this entertaining imaginative activity. Each year we’d tie and dye a drawer full of shirts. This annual event usually occurred on Father’s Day. I remember one year, the kids performed in a violin concert the weekend we were dying T-shirts. That’s right, the morning after our fun-filled artistic adventure, my lovely brood stood on stage, in formal clothes, with pink, purple, and blue blotches from their fingernails to their elbows. Embarrassment is a great teacher: the subsequent year we were more scrupulous about wearing gloves. . . .
While it has been a few years since we’ve engaged in the massive tie-dye event, the T-shirts are still treasures, and worn frequently. When the kids were younger it was our family uniform on public field-trips. Whether we were headed to the zoo, public museum, or state fair, the kids and I would sport our tie-dyed shirts. Yes, we were occasionally the object of amusement. I recall touring the Cana Island Lighthouse in Door County, Wisconsin one summer, and having a fellow tourist loudly smirk to his son, “Look honey, that’s what a bunch of liberal hippie-kids looks like.” To which I shot back, “Actually, Sir, this is what conservative Catholic homeschoolers who want to keep track of their (then) 6 kids look like.” (o.k., so Sarah Palin isn’t the only Pit-Bull with lipstick.. . .)
For me, dressing in brightly colored togs was not a political statement or an expression of artistic pride, but rather a practical matter of survival. I need to keep track of my 8 children, and when they were dressed in these brightly colored garments, with a mere glance I could recognize them and they could recognize me. Just as our Lord says: “I know my sheep and My sheep know Me (John 10:14).” These tie-dyed shirts were a garment that allowed me to make sure all my children were safe, and protected; because no matter how much fun we were having on an outing, as a good mother I wanted to be sure that all mine made it safely home. My kids are growing up, yet still they will often all sport tie-dyed shirts of their own free will, partly out of nostalgia, rejoicing in the fondness of memories shared.
I like to think the Brown Scapular is something like our tie-dyed T-shirts. When we are properly enrolled, and wearing the garment of grace given to St. Simon Stock by Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we are robed in Mary’s own special garment. With this highly blessed sacramental, Our Lady is able to impart countless graces. Through it, we identify ourselves as belonging to Jesus through Mary. Like my tie-dyed T-shirts, our Brown Scapulars set us apart. Our Brown Scapular is an outward sign that we are unified under a Maternal Protectoress; one whose only desire is to see us safely home.
With gratitude to Our Lady of Mount Camel for providing such an exquisite garment of grace, please join me in praying the third day of our novena in preparation for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16.
O Queen of Heaven, you gave us the Scapular as an outward sign by which we might be known as your faithful children. May we always wear it with honor by avoiding sin and imitating your virtues. Help us to be faithful to this desire of ours.
(pause and mention petitions) s)
Say: Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.
May Our Lady of Mount Carmel wrap her Mantle around your shoulders and hold you close to the Sacred Heart of her Divine Infant Son, Jesus.
Ad Jesum per Mariam,