Beautiful Flower of Mt. Carmel

07-16-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Since today, July 16, is the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, a little history may be helpful. (Most of this comes from the Carmelite Order itself.) Mount Carmel is a mountain in the Holy Land celebrated for its sheer beauty. Stretching out into the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea, Mount Carmel in the springtime of the year is aglow with the vivacious coloring of flowering shrubs and plants - a symbol for the beauty of Mary. On that mountain, the first Carmelites, a unique group, came together. Most of them were laymen living as hermits in community. They took as their model one who appealed to many monks in the West, the Prophet Elijah. And with the passage of time, they took Mary as the companion on their journey to the Lord. Carmel stands for prayer and union with God on the holy mount. Every Carmelite house, even the smallest in the back street of some huge city, still manages to recapture something of that unique and beautiful spirit of Mount Carmel.

After the Saracen invasion of the Holy Land, the Carmelites scattered into Europe. The Order being displaced and badly shaken was in danger of collapsing. In the year 1251, in the town of Aylesford in England, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, the head of the Carmelites, and promised her protection for the Order and thus its continuation. She handed him a brown woolen scapular and said, “This shall be a privilege for you and all Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall not suffer eternal fire.” In time, the Church extended this magnificent privilege to all the laity who are willing to be invested in the Brown Scapular of the Carmelites and who perpetually wear it.

What the scapular teaches us is that true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary consists of three things: VENERATION, CONFIDENCE AND LOVE. By simply wearing the Scapular, we can tell her every moment of the day that we venerate her, love her and trust in her protection.

The Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel has promised to save those who wear the scapular from the fires of hell; She will also shorten their stay in purgatory if they should pass from this world still owing some debt of punishment. This promise (known as the Sabbatine Privilege) is found in a Bull of Pope John XXII. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him and, speaking of those who wear the Brown Scapular, said, “I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death and whomsoever I shall find in purgatory, I shall free so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting.”

The Blessed Virgin assigned certain conditions which must be fulfilled:

  • Wear the Brown Scapular continuously.
  • Observe chastity according to one’s state in life (married/single).
  • 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.

Our parish has the good fortune of being under the Patroness of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The special graces that come to us through her powerful intercession should, at the same time, remind us of our filial responsibility towards her and to make known the wonders of her love and that of her precious Son.

Our Beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel, most fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, holy and singular,
who brought forth the Son of God, still ever remaining a pure virgin, assist us in our necessity!
O Star of the Sea, help and protect us! Show us that you are our Mother!
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!

Love, Fr. John B.