The Brown Scapular


 “WHOSOEVER DIES IN THIS GARMENT SHALL NOT SUFFER ETERNAL FIRE.”
– promise of Our Lady to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251


Yes. That is her promise. When I first learned of the brown scapular, I was a little taken back when I learned of her promise. Is that all? All I have to do is wear that piece of wool on string and I won’t go to Hell? Well, that IS her promise, but it’s not that simple. I’ll come back to this later in the post. Let’s start from the beginning first.

Mt. Carmel, a mountain on the northwest coast of Palestine was the location of many events from the Bible. In the Old Testament, Elijah challenged the people that turned to the pagan god Baal. He brought the elders that worshipped Baal to the mountain and had them each prepare a place for an offering. The altar that was set aflame would determine who the true god was. After building his altar, he soaked it in water, making it impossible for human hands to set it aflame.  When Elijah called upon God, a bolt of lightning came down. The pagan prophets were killed. Elijah then went into hiding in the mountain and was joined by other prophets. There they lived in peace.

In the New Testament,  Our Lady was in the shadow of Carmel in Nazareth, and it was here that she said yes to God to carry His only Son. Mary and Joseph passed over Mt.Carmel on their return from Egypt. Hermits on the mountain rejoiced for their Saviour had finally come.  It is said that the Carmelites were the first people baptized by the apostles. They also had great love for the Blessed Mother and built a church on the mountain named after her as a sign of their love for her.

Jump ahead to 550. The scapular is worn by those within religious orders as a sign of reminder of service to God.  A scapular is two pieces of  wool strung so that when placed over the head one piece of wool hangs on the front and another on the back. Often images are embroidered on the wool pieces. It is a sacramental, which means that it is a tangible silent prayer and it is worn as a reminder of our faith. It is also worn as something we can physically see and touch during times of temptation so that we may ask for intercession during times of need.

In 1251, Simon Stock begged Our Lady to help repair the issues within the new order of Carmelites.  Many people thought that there were enough orders and another wasn’t necessary. Internally, the younger and older monks were having a hard time getting along.   Later, Mary appeared to him saying, “take this Scapular, it shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of  peace. Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire,” and she handed him the brown scapular. Eventually, the wearing of the scapular spread from not only religious but to laity as well. It’s worth noting that this story is not by any means dogma, but has been passed down through the centuries largely through oral tradition.

There is more to this promise. While Mary always keeps her promises to her Children, it is only in devoting our lives to Christ through his Mother that we will be worthy of the scapular we wear.  To be eligible for this promise, there are a few things one must do after being enrolled in the Family of Carmel by a Carmelite priest or any other priest.
1. You must wear the scapular perpetually.
2. Live a Chaste life according to your vocation ( married or single)
3. Recite daily the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin OR Observe the fasts of the Church together with abstaining from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays OR With permission of a priest, say five decades of Our Lady’s Most Holy Rosary OR With permission of a priest, substitute some other good work.

This isn’t a free ride to Heaven, though.  In wearing the scapular, we are to live up to the expectations of Mary.  If we choose not to live like Mary, the Scapular will find it’s way off. If the wearer is in a state of mortal sin and refuses to cooperate with God’s Grace to confess his sins and be fully repentant, God will not take their free will from them. Their own choices to separate from God will surely be the cause of the removal of the scapular.  As said in the Audio Sancto I attached below, “Mary will not be made a fool of.”

Her promise is strong and sure. By devoting our lives to Christ through a devotion to Mary we can achieve holiness. By loving her as our Mother and Queen she will readily be with us to help us through trials and struggles in our lives. She will lead us to her Son and help prepare us for the Kingdom. Like Christ, we too should be obedient to our mothers and live our lives out of love for her and her Son.  The Devil and his demons tremble at the name of Mary, and they fear the Brown Scapular. Pray your Rosary. Love Mary. Love Christ.

Here is the Link to an amazing sermon from Audio Sancto all about the brown scapular. I encourage you all to listen to it, as it is full of amazing stories and miracles.
http://www.audiosancto.org/sermon/20100718-Stories-Of-The-Brown-Scapular.html

Also, below are other resources and links so you can order your own scapular.

Love, Ruki

http://www.sistersofcarmel.com/brown-scapular-information.php
http://www.freebrownscapular.com/
http://www.freebrownscapular.com/brown_scapular_history.html
http://www.prayerbook.com/Prayers/LiturgyBVM/liturgybvm.htm 

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About catholicruki

Married. Mother. Catholic.

Posted on July 14, 2012, in Blessed Virgin Mary, Brown Scapular, Carmelites, Catholic, chastity, Confession, counsel, Devotion, faith, Fasting, Love, marriage, mother, prayer, Priesthood, Rosary, Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, Vocations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Can my Jewish friend get any benefit from wearing the brown scapular?

    • Short answer: no, not really.

      Some people mis-interpret Mary’s promise to St. Simon Stock as making the brown scapular kind of a get-into-heaven-free card. It’s nothing like that. It’s just a devotional. Through the brown scapular, Our Lady is not providing a way around her Son – she is providing a way closer to him. So the only way it would help, is if it helped bring your friend into relationship with Christ.

      In any case, the brown scapular comes with promises, and wearing it with no intent to fulfil them, or belief in the reasons for them, would be hypocritical and I would say probably a sacrilege as well. Please, do not try to convince a non-Christian wear it.

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