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Monday, July 16, 2012

Our Lady of Mount Carmel - July 16

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
July 16

"For all of you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ
."  (Galatians 3:27)

Today we celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, institued for the Carmelites in 1332, and extended to the whole Church by Benedict XIII in 1726.

Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel, a coastal range in Northern Israel, is considered a sacred place. It's importance extends back to Old Testament time.  In 1Kings 18:19-39 we read that Mount Carmel was the place where Elijah defended the God of Israel against the priests of Baal.  After which Elijah "repaired the altar of the Lord which had been destroyed." (1 Kings 18:30)  Mount Carmel is referred to as a symbol of beauty and fruitfulness in Isaiah 35:2, and a sign of the Lord's impending judgment if it were to wither and die. (Naham 1:4)  

Pious Pilgrims

In the twelfth century, a group of hermits desiring to follow Christ, settled at the foot of Mount Carmel.  This group of pious pilgrims dedicated themselves to Mary and became known by her name as "Brothers of Saint Mary of Mount Carmel." In order to give structure to their group, they asked for and received "a rule of life" (formula for living) from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Saint Albert. 

After approval from a succession of Pope's, this group, known then as the Carmelite's became a religious order with a small church built at the foot of Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. From there they grew throughout Europe.   

The Brown Scapular

It can be said, that parents clothe their children as an outward sign of their love, protection and care. It is in this same fashion that Our Blessed Mother desires to care for us, her children, by clothing us in her special garment, a gament that signifies salvation in her Son, Jesus. 

On July 16, 1251, Our Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Simon Stock, General of the Carmelites at Cambridge, England. The Carmelite Order had been going through some difficult times and Saint Simon prayed to Our Lady for her intercession.  Her response was to give him a brown wool scapular, saying, "Receive, my beloved son, the Scapular of thy Order.  It is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for the children of Mount Carmel.  Whoever dies clothed with this Scapular shall be preserved from the eternal flames.  It is a sign of salvation, a sure safeguard in danger, a pledge of peace and of my special protection until the end of the ages."

The Brown Scapular is a special garment - given by the Blessed Mother to her children as an outward sign of her love, protection and care, as well as a special garment worn by her children as a sign of their love, devotion and promise to walk in her footsteps in order to draw closer to her Son, Jesus. 

In Our Blessed Mother's last visit to Fatima in 1917, she appeared to the  three visionaries, Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco, as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, holding the Brown Scapular in her hand. 


The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the habit of the Carmelite Order and signifies an affiliation with the Carmelites.  Therefore, the wearer shares in the graces of the Carmelite family. 

To obtain the indulgences and other benefits promised to those who wear the Carmelite wool Brown Scapular, a person must be invested in the confraternity and do their best to lead a Christian life. Any priest or deacon who has been given the authority to act in the name of the Carmelite Order may conduct the Rite of Blessing and Enrollment in the Scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. This enrollement is done only once. Once enrolled the wool scapular may be replace with a Scapular Medal. 

The Scapular is not a "magic charm," nor is wearing it an automatic guarantee of salvation.  It is, rather, a sacramental approved by the Church.  Wearing the Scapular stands for one's decision to follow Jesus, like Mary, by being open to God and His Will, guided by faith, hope and charity, conscious of the needs of others and to pray without ceasing.

"Be faithful unto death,
and I will give you the crown of life
(Revelation 2:10)

For items related to the Catholic Church
please visit Lynn's Timeless Treasures
Our Lady of Mount Carmel - Pietro Novelli
Our Lady of Mount Carmel - Moretto da Brescia
Carmelite Monastery - Carmelite Sisters by the Sea, California 

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