Throughout the centuries many of the successors of St. Peter have worn the Brown Scapular and highly recommended commending one’s self to the Blessed Virgin’s maternal care through this powerful sacramental. In the late 19thcentury, Pope Leo XIII stated:
“The nobility of the origin of the Carmelite Scapular, its extraordinary spread among Christian peoples for many centuries, the spiritualizing effects produced by it and the outstanding miracles worked in virtue of it, render the Scapular of Mount Carmel commendable to a wondrous degree (quoted from Scapular Prayer Book, ed. Bart Tesoriero, 2007, p. 32).”
For centuries, people have been turning to Our Lady, through a tradition of Carmelite Spirituality and prayer, invoking her powerful intercession and providential care. One who wears the Brown Scapular with devotion shares in the spiritual benefits imparted to faithful Carmelites; a gift from our Lord bestowed through His Beloved Mother. On July 16, 1251, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, bearing the gift of the Carmelite Scapular, and promised:
“Receive beloved son, this scapular of thy order, as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all the Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment shall not suffer everlasting fire. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant (quoted from Scapular Prayer Book, ed. Bart Tesoriero, 2007, p. 12).”
The Brown Scapular is a powerful sacramental; richly blessed and highly indulgenced. It is NOT a magical talisman. It is a sign, a visible symbol of one’s commitment to Christ through Mary. The Brown Scapular is an outward manifestation of a covenant relationship with Almighty God, a pledge of obedience to His Holy Will. One who wears the Brown Scapular promises fidelity to Christ, and chastity in accord with their state of life (either married or single).
The ability to wear the “Garment of Grace” and partake in the promise of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to St. Simon Stock, and all Carmelites, is an immense privilege. As with any privilege, there is a corollary responsibility. Were one to merely wear the Scapular without practicing the faith that goes along with it, it would be equivalent of reducing this beautiful sacramental to the status of a “good-luck” charm. The Brown Scapular is most certainly NOT a good luck charm. Thus, to receive the graces associated with it, one needs not only to wear the scapular continuously, but also to live their faith, practice chastity consistent with their state, and pray.
Ideally, one should be enrolled in the scapular by a priest or deacon. A devotion to Carmelite Spirituality is also encouraged, including:
(1) Regular participation in Holy Mass and the Eucharist
(2) Regular reading and meditation on Sacred Scripture
(3) Regular prayer of at least some part of the Liturgy of the Hours
(4) Devotion to and imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
(5) A commitment to live the virtues of faith, hope, charity, and chastity in accordance with God’s Holy Will and one’s vocation in life (married, single, religious, etc.)
Among the long line of devoted clients of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is Blessed Pope John Paul the Great, who on the occasion of the 750 anniversary year of the Carmelite Scapular wrote:
“The Scapular is essentially a habit which evokes the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary in this life and in the passage to the fullness of eternal glory. The Scapular also reminds us that the devotion to her must become a ‘uniform,’ that is, a Christian life-style, woven of prayer and interior life (quoted from Scapular Prayer Book, ed. Bart Tesoriero, 2007, p. 38).”
Our Brown Scapular is a tremendous treasure, the gift of a “Garment of Grace” from Our Lady. With gratitude, let us pray together the novena prayer for the seventh day in preparation for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16.
O Mary, Help of Christians, you assured us that wearing your Scapular worthily would keep us safe from harm. Protect us in both body and soul with your continual aid. May all that we do be pleasing to your Son and to you.
(pause and mention petitions)
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,