What is the Brown Scapular?
The Brown Scapular is a small garment made of two pieces of brown wool, joined by strings and worn over the shoulders. It was first made known by Our Lady Herself, July 16th 1251, to St. Simon Stock, Vicar General of the Carmelite order.
What is Our Lady's Scapular Promise?
In revealing the significance of the Scapular, Our Lady spoke as follows: ‘Receive this habit of your Order; this shall be to you and to all Carmelites a privilege that “WHOSOEVER DIES CLOTHED IN THIS HABIT SHALL NEVER SUFFER ETERNAL FIRE “.
What does the promise mean?
Our Lady does not mean by Her promise that those who die in mortal sin will be saved. The Promise means that anyone in Mary’s family or Confraternity will receive through Her, at the hour of death, the grace to die well.
What is necessary in order to die a member of Our Lady's Confraternity ?
In order so to die, it is necessary that we be validly enrolled in the Confraternity, that we have worn the Scapular faithfully in life, and above all that our manner of life has been worthy of Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother. Because “by Her motherly love, Mary cares for the brethren of Her Son who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led to their happy home in Heaven.”
(Constitution on the Church, n. 62)
Does enrolment in the Scapular have to be done by a Carmelite priest?
At one time enrolment in the Scapular had to be done by a Carmelite priest or by one holding the required faculties. Now all priests, religious or diocesan, may confer the Scapular provided they are approved for hearing Confession.
Is the Scapular Medal the same as the cloth Scapular?
In the spiritual tradition of the Carmelite Order, the Scapular has always been regarded as a little garment signifying our consecration to Our Lady and Her motherly care of us. However, for grave reasons, a Scapular Medal may be worn, according to the authorisation of St Pius X who was most anxious that no one should be deprived of the spiritual benefits of the Scapular, even though they might not be able to wear the cloth form.
He added: “However, I desire most vehemently that the cloth Scapular be worn as heretofore.”
No miracles are recorded by wearing the Scapular Medal.
Is it possible to attach superstitious meaning to the wearing of the Scapular?
Yes, it is. But ignorance can attach superstitious meanings to anything. It may be true that some people regard the Scapular as a charm that will secure heaven for them in spite of their unchristian way of living.
It will do nothing of the kind; the Scapular is a Sacramental, which is a material object used as a sign and signifying effects of a spiritual kind, through the intercession of the Church.
The principal effect of the Sacred Scapular is to obtain Our Lady’s motherly help and protection during life and after death. But all this takes for granted that we for our part are trying to live in a state of friendship with God.
The wearing of the Scapular is simply an open declaration that this is what we are doing.
If our lives do not correspond with what the Scapular proclaims, to wear it is a mockery.
Is it necessary to say any special prayers to obtain the Promise?
No. Our Lady made the promise on behalf of those who wear the Scapular worthily and die wearing it. But we should note that this means living in a true Christian manner and practicing real devotion to Our Lady.
By this we prove to Her that we are Her children and merit Her loving protection.
Here is what the Vatican Council says:
“Let the faithful remember that true devotion to the
Blessed Virgin consists neither in a fruitless and passing emotion, nor in a certain vain credulity.
Rather it proceeds from The True Faith by which we are led to know the excellence of the Mother of God and are moved to a filial love towards Her and to the imitation of Her virtues.”
(Constitution on the Church, n. 67)
Must the Scapular be blessed each time it is renewed?
No. The Scapular is blessed by a priest when a person is first invested in it, and a new Scapular does not require another blessing or enrolment.
What is the Sabbatine Privilege?
This privilege applies to people enrolled in the Scapular of Carmel and who die wearing it.
This is how the Church officially explained this privilege in July 1908:
” It is permitted to Carmelite Fathers to preach, and Christians may believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary will extend Her motherly help to souls in Purgatory who were, while on earth, Her faithful servants. And furthermore we may believe that Her beneficience in this respect may be exercised on Saturdays, the day of the week which is specially dedicated to Her.”
In what other ways do Catholics show special devotion to Our Lady?
First and foremost by the exercise of the True Faith which leads us to appreciate the Mother of Jesus for what She truly is. Then we are moved
to become like Her in some small way. The children of Our Lady show their love for Her by reciting the Holy Rosary, visiting Her shrines, by observing the five first Saturdays, wearing Her Scapular and Miraculous Medal, etc.
Has the Church approved of the Scapular Devotion?
The Sovereign Pontiffs have given the greatest number of approbations to the Brown Scapular, more than to any other confraternity. (Card. H. Vaughan).
- Pope Paul VI wrote:
“Among the practices, commended by the Second Vatican Council, we would mention by name the Marian Rosary and the devout use of the Scapular of Carmel. For this Scapular is a form of piety which is adapted to all minds by reason of its simplicity and has become
universally widespread among the faithful, producing many and happy fruits.”
Has Our Lady Herself reminded us of the Scapular devotion?
Yes. At the moment of the great miracle of Fatima, She appeared in the garb of our Lady of Mount Carmel, reaching down towards the crowd Her centuries-old sign of affiliation, the Brown Scapular. She wants us to live the true consecration to Her, which the Scapular means, to make our lives truly worthy of Her so that Her promise of eternal salvation may be fulfilled for each one of us.