The Brown Scapular Explained by a Secular Discalced Carmelite, OCDS
Introduction: The Brown Scapular Explained
First let me tell you who I am. My name is Francine Calabrese and I am a Secular Discalced Carmelite who is called by God to live in the world and to know and love God through prayer. I am a part of a religious order called The Carmelite Order, OCD.
The Carmelite Order is made of up Friars, Nuns and the laity. Most Carmelites are cloistered and live a life of prayer and penance. So, I am part of the laity which means that I am a branch of the Order but we are not called sisters or nuns. We are ordinary people with jobs, families, homes, etc. We practice the same charism as the Carmelites (which is prayer in silence and solitude) and we strive for the same growth in holiness as well. I took my final profession on July 7, 2013.
What is the Brown Scapular?
The Brown Scapular was given to St. Simon Stock (the Prior General of the Carmelite Order) around the year of 1251 from the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Carmelite Order was under a lot of turmoil at that time (the Turkish Crusades) and their lives were being threatened. St. Simon Stock was very devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary and wrote a beautiful prayer to Her one night asking for help. The next day on July 16, 1251 the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock and handed him the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. She said “whoever dies wearing the Brown Scapular will not suffer eternal fire.”
Wearing The Brown Scapular
The Brown Scapular is made up of two pieces of cloth joined by a string and is worn over your shoulders with one piece in the front and one in the back. The Brown Scapular is made of plain brown fabric. Sometimes you will see an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus on one panel and the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the other. You may also see an image of St. Simon Stock receiving the Brown Scapular from the Blessed Virgin Mary. You possibly might see a Scapular made with the image the Carmelite symbol. All are acceptable. The Scapular Metal can be replaced by the cloth Scapular as long as it’s not out of vanity, and for a good reason. The Blessed Mother would not be pleased with anyone who is embarrassed to wear Her Holy Habit.
You can wear the Scapular either on the outside of your clothes or the inside. It does not matter as long as you wear it. The Brown Scapular is a Sacramental. Sacramentals are gifts from God that help us grow in virtue and holiness. The Brown Scapular prepares us receive grace from God and to cooperate with it. The Brown Scapular is the Blessed Mother’s habit or garment. The Brown Scapular is an external sign of our consecration to Her Immaculate Heart.
The Brown Scapular Helps Us To Resist Temptation And The Devil
The Brown Scapular helps us to resist temptation and the devil. The devil HATES it! When you feel you are being tempted, you may kiss it and say a quick prayer to Her and she will help you resist that temptation. Pope Paul the VI granted a partial indulgence for kissing the Scapular often. The Blessed Mother is always protecting you from danger and keeping you safe when you are clothed in her Holy Habit.
Once the Scapular is blessed it becomes holy. So, when it becomes old, worn, or torn you may never throw it in the garbage. It MUST be burned, buried or thrown in a body of water, such as a lake or ocean. The Brown Scapular can also be wash with soap and water and let air dry, or you may use a blow dryer to dry it. If the strings of the Brown Scapular are torn you should replace it with a new one.
There is an enrollment formula that comes with the Brown Scapular. Any priest or deacon can enroll (invest) you into the Scapular. Once you become enrolled you become a part of the Carmelite family which means you benefit from all their prayers, sacrifices and Masses of the Carmelite Friars, and Nuns. When you want to change your Scapular for a new one there is no need to have it blessed again or become enrolled again. The blessing extends to every Scapular you wear. There is a morning offering prayer to Her after you are enrolled which I recommend saying it every day if you want. Plus, it’s a reminder of your consecration to Her Immaculate Heart.
The Brown Scapular Is NOT A Lucky Charm
This is very important! The Brown Scapular is NOT a lucky charm or a FREE ticket into Heaven. When you decide you want to wear the Brown Scapular you MUST wear it devoutly, respectfully and faithfully. The Blessed Mother will NOT be mocked. She will intercede for you before Jesus if you have fallen into mortal sin before you die. She will make sure you will not die without a good confession. She will come to your aid as long as you were following all the teachings of the Catholic Church, following the conditions for wearing the Brown Scapular, and if you were a faithful Scapular wearer.
The Sabbatine Privilege
This is an additional gift given to us that extends into Purgatory. The Sabbatine Privilege is approved by the Catholic Church but is not based on any historical event (The Sabbatine Bull). The Carmelites published a booklet called The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Catechesis and Ritual, (prepared under the direction of the North American Provincials of the Carmelite Orders) where you will find this information. For a long time, the Carmelites would preach that Pope John XXII (from 1316-1334) issued a Bull explaining that he had a vision that Mary would bring Scapular wearers out of Purgatory the Saturday after their death. This vision and Bull later were found not historically and was proved to be fictitious and the Church asked the Carmelites to stop preaching this. However, the Holy See acknowledged that the faithful could certainly BELIEVE in the Blessed Mother’s constant intercession and merciful prayers WILL assist the deceased souls of the faithful Scapular wearer on the Saturday after their death.
Traditionally, there were certain practices you had to perform in order to receive this privilege. Which is observing chastity according to your state in life, (which you should be doing anyway) abstain from meat on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s (unless these days fall on Christmas), or praying the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Divine Office can also be prayed in place of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These practices today can be replaced by praying 5 decades of the Holy Rosary.
I personally follow the tradition but that’s who I am.
The Blessed Mother revealed to Venerable Dominic of Jesus and Mary: “Although many wear my Scapular, only a few fulfill conditions for the Sabbatine Privilege.”
This is what Pope Pius the XII has to say about the Sabbatine Privilege:
“And certainly, this gentle Mother will not delay to open as soon as possible, through her intercession with God, the gates of Heaven for her children who are expiating their faults in Purgatory – a trust based on that Promise known as the Sabbatine Privilege”
Questions and Concerns about the Brown Scapular
I’ve heard and have been asked many questions and concerns about the Brown Scapular. A few of these questions and concerns include the following:
The Brown Scapular must be made of 100% wool (if not, you run the risk of not receiving Her promises), it cannot be incased with plastic, it can’t be taken off when showering, only a priest (not a deacon) can enroll a person in the Brown Scapular, and the list goes on and on.This is what I say when I hear things that just don’t make any sense. I take a step back and I say to myself would the Blessed Mother really care if the Scapular was not made of 100% wool especially if they were following all of the teachings of the Catholic church, and following the conditions related to the Brown Scapular? Please keep in mind that many people are allergic to 100% wool.This is the Mother of Mercy we are talking about. She is the MOST loving creature beside Her Son Jesus that ever lived. Do you actually think She will not honor Her promise if the Brown Scapular is not made of 100% wool? Or if you take if off while showering and you happen to die in the shower, you will not receive the promises? Now, I’m not saying you can pick and choose when you want to wear the Brown Scapular. Yes, you should wear it every day, but you can certainly take if off while showering. And as I mentioned before YOU must follow all the teachings the Catholic Church while wearing it devoutly, respectfully and faithfully.
With that said, I think we should focus on why we are wearing the Brown Scapular and how God’s LOVING GRACE is poured onto us when we are wearing it. We should also be focusing on striving to live a life of virtue, and charity as well as striving for holiness. This is what is important. Not what it’s made of, etc.
The Meaning Of The Brown Scapular & The Promises That Are Attached To It
I hope this blog has helped you understand the meaning of the Brown Scapular and the promises that are attached to it that was given to us from GOD through our MOST LOVING MOTHER!
“Say your Rosary everyday….Wear the Scapular devoutly and perseveringly. It is my garment. To be clothed in it means you are continually thinking of me, and I in turn, am always thinking of you and helping you to secure eternal life.”
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