Mountainous Sanctity and Our Lady

Promises and striving to keep them are essential parts of our lives. When we love something – even when we simply want something – it’s engrained in us to set goals, make sacrifices, persevere, and (ideally) obtain our sought-after reward. If we’re very dedicated, we grow in the process as well. On today’s feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we’re reminded that spiritual rewards can be met similarly, by the grace of God and some help from Our Lady.

Mount Carmel in Israel is a significant spiritual and scriptural space. Many prophets reference it, and some say that Elijah even foreshadowed Christ’s Incarnation and Mary’s role in it here (1 Kings 18:41-44). The following centuries saw contemplative hermits flock to the site. Pulling from the example of Elijah, the “Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel” formed, and eventually became the central foundation of the Carmelite order.

A Saracen invasion captured Mount Carmel in 1238 (the Seventh Crusade), forcing the order to found new communities with a new Rule of Life in Europe. One of these took root in Aylesford, England, under the new leadership of prior (later Saint) Simon Stock. In a vision he received on July 16th, 1251, Our Lady gave Stock the Brown Scapular, saying, “take this Scapular, it shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies while wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.”

Scapulars, as we wear them, are small and humble fabric squares with depictions of Our Lady and Jesus, and it is in its humility that powerful promises come to life. Each Brown Scapular has the words of Our Lady to Simon Stock sewn in – a promise of reconciliation and expedited union with God after death. But the scapular also serves as an avenue of Marian intercession in our earthly lives. Wearing one opens us to Mary’s guiding influence and, having striven to live by her example, further helps us as we enter eternal life.

What may be a surprise is that the Brown Scapular emulated an extant earthly garment. ”Scapulars” (from the Latin scapulae for “shoulders”) are sleeveless garments worn over the shoulders by religious; in the Carmelite order, it was often reminiscent of Marian devotion. The Brown Scapular simply opened the devotion to any who wished to be clothed in Mary’s protective mantle – and the “garment” of love for her Son.

To wear a scapular is to keep two important promises: to lead a good Christian life, filled with habitual prayer and service, and to wear the scapular faithfully. If we strive to sustain these each day, our eternal reward is likely greater than when we began: in life, we will foster a deeper love and devotion to God through His Mother, and in death, have an opportunity for final repentance and a shorter time before we are fully united with God once more.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!

Our Lady is celebrated under many names, from popular apparitions to small-town titles. Each reveal something different about the Blessed Mother to us – and affirms what we already know of her love and intercessory power! Deepen your devotion to Our Lady with Miracles, Mysteries, & Mary, a monthly collection of stories, Church teaching, reflections, and so much more – guaranteed to expand your knowledge of Our Blessed Mother. Sign up today to receive this Marian content, right to your inbox, and check out our archive page to catch up on our year of Our Lady!

 

Colleen R. Schena serves as the Junior Copywriter for Relevant Radio. She is a graduate of Marian University Indianapolis with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology. Colleen has a deep passion for writing fiction and nonfiction, hiking, and nature photography.