The Brown Scapular, and Mt. Carmel.
The Kingdom of Israel during the time of the prophet Elijah was overrun with priests who worship Baal, a deity of the ancient neighbors of Israel. This idolatrous practice corrupted the people so that every form of injustice ruled the day. This period of darkness posed an existential threat to the faith of Israel. The sins against the First Commandment had created a climate of apostasy and indifference toward God. So God called Elijah to rectify the situation.
Elijah’s as a great prophet and his association with Mount Carmel will be ever linked to his dramatic demonstration there on behalf of God against the priest of Baal. Elijah’s challenge to them confronted the evil of his day as he called all of Israel to the mountain to repent and to worship the God of their forefathers. Elijah exposed the priest of Baal then he slew them to extinguish the evil from the land. The Bible tells us that the prophet Elijah appeared, “wearing a hairy garment with a leather girdle about his loins.” (2 Kings 1:8) And the prophet Malachi says; “Lo I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, Before the day of the Lord comes, the great and terrible day;” To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the land with doom.”(Mal 3:1,23-24)
John the Baptist is portrayed in the Gospels in a similar fashion, and is referred to as Elijah by Jesus Christ when “the disciples asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;” Jesus said; “I tell you that Elijah has already come.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.” (Matt. 17:10-13).
God told Elijah to call Elisha to succeed him “Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantle on him.” (1 Kings19:20) Who carries this mantle today? At one point when Elijah and Elisha were to cross the river Jordan, he took his Mantle off, touched the river with the Mantle and it stopped the river from flowing, so they could cross it (2 Kings 2:8). When Elijah was to be taken up to Heaven, Elisha his successor asked Elijah for double the amount of his prophetic spirit. Elijah said to him, “If I leave my Mantle behind for you, know that you will receive this prophetic spirit.” Scripture tells us when the fiery chariot came and took Elijah to Heaven, it separated Elijah and Elisha. Then Elisha picked up the Mantle left behind by Elijah (2 Kings 2:13). Elijah will come and has come, on the great and terrible day, and who and what prophets fills the office of Elijah on this great and terrible day? The Jewish people still set a place for Elijah at the table during their Passover celebration with the hopes of his return as a sign of the coming of the Messiah, and Christian’s believe before the second coming of Christ that Elijah will appear again, and the sign will be the conversion of the Jewish people. Is it possible that Elijah is here today? I asked the question, could Our Lady be fulfilling the office of Elijah today, in preparing the world for Christ’s Second Coming. Is this prophetic mantle the Brown Scapular of the Carmelites? Let us examine further this mysterious Mountain.
Mount Carmel is a celebrated mountain near modern-day Haifa. Its Hebrew name means “garden” or “orchard”. In early times it was so named because of the fertility of its slopes, well irrigated, they bore a vegetation so abundant, that Carmel evoked the very idea of beauty and abundance. In the Song of Solomon, the bridegroom, so dazzled by the beauty of the bride, says to her, ”Thy head is held high like Carmel…How beautiful thou art…Oh love, oh delight!” (Song 7:6,7). It is also a known fact that Mount Carmel is visible from the town of Nazareth where Mary is from. It is believed that she would gaze on the Mountain while carrying out her daily task.
The Carmelites are a contemplative religious community of the Catholic Church who first settled on Mount Carmel many centuries ago. “It is Elijah” (2 Kings 1:8) who the Carmelites consider their founder. There is a wonderful story in the history of the Carmelite Order published in 1773 in Naples: Three famous men of God met on a street corner in Rome. They were Friar Dominic, busy gathering recruits to a new Religious Order of Preachers; Brother Francis, the friend of birds and beasts and especially dear to the poor; and Angelus, who had been invited to Rome from Mount Carmel, in Palestine, because of his fame as a preacher. At their chance meeting, by the light of the Holy Spirit each of the three men recognized each other and, in the course of their conversation (as recorded by various followers who were present), they made prophecies to each other. Saint Angelus foretold the stigmata of Saint Francis, and Saint Dominic said: “One day, Brother Angelus, to your Order of Carmel the Most Blessed Virgin Mary will give a devotion to be known as the Brown Scapular, and to my Order of Preachers she will give a devotion to be known as the Rosary; and “ONE DAY, THROUGH THE ROSARY AND THE SCAPULAR, SHE WILL SAVE THE WORLD.” Today, a chapel on that very street corner in Rome commemorates the meeting of St. Dominic, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Angelus.
The Blessed Virgin Mary did appear to St. Dominic and gave to him the Rosary for the
conversion of the Albigensians and other sinners, in the year 1214 in the church of Prouille. This Marian apparition received the title of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Rosary devotion proved to be a powerful weapon from heaven against the heresies of the Albigensians, and in time they were all converted to the faith. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, instructed by the Blessed Virgin as well as his own experience, St. Dominic preached the Rosary for the rest of his life.
The Carmelite however as a community transferred from Mount Carmel in Palestine to Aylesford, England in 1241. St. Simon Stock was made Superior General of the Order in 1245. The 90-year-old superior had retired to his cell on July 16, 1251, to pour out his heart to the Blessed Virgin Mary the Flower of Mount Carmel asking Her to help him and all the Carmelites. Mary appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel to St. Simon Stock, holding in her hand a scapular. She directed him to found a confraternity whose members should wear it and consecrate themselves to her service. Ever since then, the title “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” and the Brown Scapular have been inseparably linked. Every Pope since the year 1280 A.D. has worn the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
It is a tradition among the Carmelites that when Elijah the prophet threw his cloak over Elisha thus imparting his spirit to him; this was a prefiguration of Mary clothing her children with the brown scapular. It is of the greatest importance for Catholics living today as we enter into some dark times for humanity, to be consecrated by the scapular to our heavenly Mother, placing ourselves under the mantle of her protection.
“Whosoever dies clothed in this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” – words of Our Lady to Saint Simon Stock. To be eligible for the scapular promise, one must be enrolled in the Brown Scapular Confraternity. This is a simple ceremony which can be performed by any priest. The members of the Confraternity have the added benefit of sharing in all the spiritual benefits of the Carmelite Order. The Scapular is Our Lady’s garment, and by putting it on we place ourselves under Her Mantle. This garment of grace is made up of two simple pieces of brown wool worn over the shoulders, under one’s clothing if a member of the laity, but over the habit if religious. When rising in the morning we should kiss the Scapular devoutly, and for this act of reverence, Pope Benedict XV granted an indulgence of 500 days. A few years later, Our Lady came again with a more startling promise: 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 owning some debt of punishment. This promise 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.” She will personally lead to Heaven all those who shall have worn the Scapular and fulfilled the conditions.” The Blessed Virgin assigned certain conditions which must be fulfilled: The first is to wear the Brown Scapular continuously. The second is to observe Chastity according to one’s state in life. The third is to recite daily the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin or observe the fast of the church. abstaining from meat on Wednesday and Fridays or substitute it by saying five decades of the Most Holy Rosary or some other good work. This is what is referred to as the Sabbatine Privilege.
Sister Lucia the surviving seer of Fatima and a Carmelite herself confirmed during an interview with two Carmelite priests, who was privileged to visit her in 1949. “Yes, the Rosary and the Scapular are inseparable,” The priest asked; “If she thought the scapular was a part of the Fatima message. She answered,”Most definitely, the scapular and the Rosary are inseparable.” “The scapular is a sign of consecration to Our Lady.” Another group of Carmelite priest interviewed Sister Lucia for 90 minutes. She told them, “Our Lady wants all to wear the scapular.” “Can we be sure she meant by her appearance dressed as Our Lady of Mount Carmel and holding the scapular that she wanted the scapular as part of the message?” asked Father Howard Rafferty. “Yes,” Lucia answered. “Now the Holy Father has already told this to the whole world, saying that the scapular is a sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart. Nobody can disagree now.” She was likely referring to Venerable Pius XII’s letter to the Carmelites that year in which he strongly recommended the scapular. Yet the priest persisted. “In giving the conditions of the Fatima message, is it correct to say that the scapular is one of the conditions?” “Yes, certainly,” Lucia replied. He persisted. “Is the wearing of the scapular as important as saying of the daily Rosary?” “Yes,” Lucia affirmed, repeating, “The Rosary and the Scapular are inseparable. The scapular is a sign of consecration to Our Lady.” The interviews were documented by Father Kilian Lynch, the Carmelite prior of Aylesford who also visited with Sister Lucia that year, he documented all of this in his small book, “Our Lady of Fatima and the Brown Scapular.”
St. John Paul II not only spoke powerfully about both the Rosary and scapular, but he led by example. When he was shot on the Fatima anniversary of May 13th, 1981, he insisted that his brown scapular not be removed. Father Mariano Cera reported in “Inside the Vatican magazine:” “Just before the Holy Father was operated on, he told the doctors, “Don’t take off the scapular.” and the surgeons left it on.” The pope did not stop there. Writing to the Carmelites, he stated that “The most genuine form of devotion to the Most Holy Virgin, expressed by the humble sign of the scapular, is the consecration to her Immaculate Heart.” “There are two truths which the sign of the scapular brings out: on the one hand, there is the continuous protection of the Blessed Virgin, not only along the pathways of this life, but also at the moment of passing into the fullness of eternal glory;”
The last apparition of Our Lady at Lourdes, She appeared to St. Bernadette. Bernadette after receiving communion on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel July 16th, 1848, felt an irresistible urge to return to the Grotto. Since the barricade was still in place, she and her aunt could not get as close to the sacred spot as they wanted, so they knelt in the grass, and the Beautiful Lady appeared to her one last time.
During the final apparition at Fatima, October 13, 1917, when the “miracle of the sun” occurred, Our Lady appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel with the scapular hanging from her right hand.
Forty-four years later in the little mountain hamlet of San Sebastian de Garabandal in northern Spain, Our Lady appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel with a large brown scapular prominently draped over her right wrist.
Elijah has been venerated as the patron saint of Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1752, on June 24, 1981, the feast of St. John the Baptist in a place called Medjugorje six weeks after the assassination attempt on the Holy Father Our Lady appeared to 6 children in Bosnia Herzegovina. Is the Holy Spirit sending Our Lady in these last times to fulfill the office of Elijah with the prophetic mantle passed down thru the centuries with the use of the Brown Scapular?