July 22, 2015

The Garment of Grace [ACNM]

On the Brown Scapular around my neck it reads, "Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire." What a promise Our Lady of Mount Carmel made to St. Simon Stock in 1251!

On July 16, 2015, the Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, more than 50 people at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church in Pflugerville, Texas made a vow to enter the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular.

Blessing of the Scapulars

After having a couple of smaller investiture ceremonies over the past few years, St. Elizabeth started a ministry of the Brown Scapular which coordinated last week's enrollment Mass followed by a reception and Marian art show. Several Austin and Georgetown Lay Carmelites attended as special guests.

This confraternity is under the authority of the Carmelite Orders; however, it doesn't make you a member of the orders. It is a nearly 800-year-old private devotion that is a sign that you trust Our Lady to take you to her Holy Son.

Those who have such trust are willing to pray, and so there is a daily requirement of prayer – as little as three Hail Marys or up to a daily rosary or the Divine Office. There is also the requirement that you wear the Scapular in both your waking and sleeping hours with one tab of wool over your chest and the other over your back. Keeping it in a purse, wallet or somewhere else doesn't count because it wasn't the agreement Our Lady made with St. Simon Stock. You can, however, remove it for bathing.

The Catechesis of the Brown Scapular by the North American Province of Carmelite Orders says a person invested in the Scapular must be in good standing within the Church, practice chastity according to one's state in life, and make frequent reception of the sacraments. One must strive to be like Mary: having a love of holy scripture, an active prayer life and an openness to God's will.

To wear the scapular and say the accompanying prayers is very highly recommended in the Church – in fact 16 popes have given their recommendation to this private devotion. But there is a difference between wearing it privately and being "enrolled" or "invested." Those taking that next step should very seriously consider the vow just like contemplating the vows of Holy Matrimony.

The promise of the Scapular is not a guarantee. It's not a good luck charm. To wear the Scapular without an interior disposition to live in the faith is a kind of superstition. As it says in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

[To read the rest of this story, please jump over to Austin Catholic New Media.]