The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Scapular
The Order is one family brought together through a special love and veneration for Our Lady. The presence of the Mother of God pervades our monasteries and gives the stamp to our life of prayer and sacrifice, of contemplation and service of the Church.
“In Our Lady, we contemplate the ideal of the Order lived to perfection. Every sister finds in Mary a mother and teacher in the ways of the Spirit who will conform her to Christ and lead her to the heights of holiness.” (Declarations) Solemnities, feasts, and memorials of Mary are celebrated with special devotion, reverence and emphasis.
With Our Lady, and following the example of St. Teresa, the Teresian Carmel lovingly venerates St. Joseph under whose patronage was placed the first convent of the Reform. The Saints of Carmel, especially our Holy Mother St. Teresa, our Holy Father St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Therese Margaret and countless other Saints and Blesseds with which the Order is graced also have their place in our hearts and loving devotion.
The Brown Scapular
This is a gift our Blessed Mother lovingly gave the Carmelite Order in 1251, when it was facing a painful crisis. It was accompanied by a promise of protection and symbolized her motherly care.
The Church has since extended the graces that come with the Scapular to all who wear it with faith and love while fulfilling the condition inherent in the promise.
The promise is that of salvation (“He who dies wearing the Scapular shall not suffer the fires of hell.”). This means our Blessed Mother will help us so that what Our Lord has given us so bounteously through His incarnation, life, passion, death and resurrection will be truly ours – life as children of His Father, as His brothers and sisters, members of His mystical body: life in its fullness without end!
The condition is nothing else but what our Lord asks of us: to live as true children of God, as loving brothers and sisters to one another, faithful to His Gospel teaching as we fulfill the daily duties of our state of life. It also calls for sensitivity to His will for us, loyalty to His Church, and a loving willingness to cooperate with His commands.
So the Scapular is not an “extra” in our Christian life. Jesus made Mary our Mother when He hung dying on the Cross. She fulfills that role by bringing us to Him; by helping us to do whatever He tells us.
Make the wearing of your Scapular a prayer – by often remembering that it is an act of Mary giving Jesus to you; it is you, responding with your love, your faithfulness.
Let the love of Jesus and Mary that it brings to mind be your strength and comfort in your problems, difficulties and temptations.
Let it also enhance all the joys that the Lord daily gives you.
Let it be an act of gratitude to God and our Blessed Mother for all the blessings of your life.
Treasure your Scapular!