Our Lady of Mt Carmel – 16 July
The Church celebrates on this day the feast of the Scapular of Mount Carmel. The scapular, which derives its name from the Latin word scapulæ, meaning shoulders, is a dress which covers the shoulders. It is mentioned in the rule of Saint Benedict as worn by monks over their other dress when they were at work, and it now forms a regular part of the religious dress in the old Orders. But it is best known among Catholics as the name of two little pieces of cloth worn out of devotion to the Blessed Virgin over the shoulders, under the ordinary garb, and connected by strings. The devotion of the scapular, now almost universal in the Catholic Church, began with the Carmelites. The history of its origin is as follows: During the thirteenth century the Carmelite Order suffered great persecution, and on 16 July 1251, while Saint Simon Stock, then general of the Order, was at prayer, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, holding in her hand a scapular. Giving it to the saint, she said,
- “Receive, my dear son, this scapular of thy Order, as the distinctive sign of my confraternity, and the mark of the privilege which I have obtained for thee and the children of Carmel. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in danger, and a special pledge of peace and protection till the end of time. Whosoever dies wearing this shall be preserved from eternal flames.”
It is much to be wished that people should everywhere join this confraternity, for the honor of Mary and for the salvation of souls, by a life fitted to that end.
In order to have a share in the merits of the sodality every member must:
- Shun sin, and, according to his state of life, live chastely.
- Say every day, if possible, seven times, Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be to the Father.
- Strive to serve God by venerating Mary, and imitating her virtues.
These rules, it is true, are not binding under penalty of sin, but the breach of them deprives us of all merit; and is not this something to be taken into account? “He who sowed sparingly shall also reap sparingly.” (II Corinthians 9:6)
The Introit of the Mass is as follows:
- “Let us all rejoice in the Lord, and celebrate a festal-day in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on whose solemn feast the angels rejoice, and give praise to the Son of God. My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak of my workS for the King.”
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
O God, Who hast honored the Order of Carmelites with the particular title of the most blessed Virgin Mary, Thy Mother, mercifully grant that, protected by her prayers whose commemoration we this day celebrate with a solemn office, we may deserve to arrive at joy everlasting. Who livest, and reignest, for ever and ever. Amen.