The feast of the Brown Scapular: tradition says that Our Lady gave it herself, in 1251, to Blessed Simon Stock, an Englishman Carmelite friar; this devotion then spread all over the world. Popes John XXII, Gregory XIII, Sixtus V, Gregory XIV and Clement VIII granted indulgences to those who are members of this spiritual fraternity.
Nine centuries before Christ, the great prophet Elijah went to the Carmel heights to ask God to send rain after three and a half years of drought. In response to his prayers, Elijah saw a small cloud rise from the sea, a figure and a promise of the Immaculate Virgin Mother whose Son would save humanity from the drought and scourge of sin.
At the time of the Crusades, there were hermits who lived on Mount Carmel in imitation of St. Elijah. Among them there was a chapel dedicated to the Madonna. To the medieval members of the Order, Mary was the graceful Lady who protected them from danger, who won for them the favor of Christ, her Son.
The only gift that unites all Catholics to our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel is her scapular. The scapular was delivered to Saint Simon Stock, prior general of the Carmelite Order, on July 16, 1251. The Madonna appeared to the Saint when there was a great danger that the Carmelite order would be dissolved. The works of Saint Simone was the prayer, “Flower of Carmel”, still said daily by the Carmelites:
Vine, full of bloom,
Splendor of Paradise,
Nobody is the same as you.
O benign Mother
whom no man knew,
On all the children of Carmel, give us your favors,
Star of the Sea.
Our Lady answered Simon’s prayers by giving him the scapular, saying:
“Receive this habit, this will be a sign of salvation. Anyone who dies dressed in this will not suffer eternal fire. “
Seven centuries have shown what generous gift our Mother gave us when she made the dress of her scapular for us. German Catholics call the scapular the “garment of grace” of Mary. Mary’s habit is a humble dress, simply two pieces of fabric joined by bows. However, we do not measure the gifts of God by ordinary world standards. The simplicity of the scapular is a lesson in modesty and purity. The Queen of Heaven made the scapular the pledge of her protection, especially at the hour of death. Our mother dressed us, her children, with her dress of choice. By wearing it, we show that we have dedicated ourselves completely to Her service, and we are reminded to imitate our Mother. Its continuous use is a prayer for the protection of Mary, a sign of our complete dependence on her.
The second promise made by Mary to St. Simon Stock is known as the “Sabatine privilege”. Saturday, because Our Lady promised prompt release from Purgatory, especially on the Saturday after death, to those who wear the scapular and who perform some additional acts of devotion in Her honor. We believe that God grants all graces through his Mother. Mary showed herself to S. Bernadette in Lourdes for the last time on July 16; and in Her last apparition in Fatima, she appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
When we are enrolled in the Brown Scapular, the following prayers are said at the blessing and enrollment or imposition of the scapular:
Prayer of blessing of the scapular
(A priest or deacon says a prayer of blessing using holy water. If no ordained person is present the officiant proceeds to the enrollment.)
Minister: O God, author and perfection of holiness, you call those who were born of water and the Holy Spirit to the fullness of the Christian life. Look with kindness on those who are about to receive devoutly the Scapular of Carmel which they will wear faithfully as the sign of their commitment to the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Grant that in surrendering to the love of the most tender Virgin, they may conform themselves to the image of Jesus Christ your Son, and having run the course of this life happily, may they enter into the joy of your house. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Enrollment and Imposition of the Scapular
(The officiant places a scapular over the head of each person being enrolled.)
Minister: Receive this holy habit, through which you become a member of the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Full of faith in the love of such a great Mother and Sister, dedicate yourself to imitating her and to a special relationship with her. Wear this sign as a reminder of the presence of Mary in your daily commitment to be clothed in Jesus Christ, and to manifest him in your life for the good of the Church and the whole of humanity, and to the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity.
All: Amen. Thanks be to God.
(After the enrollment and imposition, the minister addresses all in these words:)
Minister: Having received the Scapular, you have been received into the family of Carmel, consecrated in a special way to the imitation and service of the Virgin Mother of God, that you may live for Christ and his Church in the contemplative and apostolic spirit of the Order of Carmel. And so that you may be able to follow this ideal more perfectly, by the faculties entrusted to me, I admit you to participate in all the spiritual benefits of the Order of Carmel. Amen.