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Thursday, August 14, 2014

GARMENT OF GRACE: The Brown and The Blue

“By dedicating ourselves to her (Our Lady) we become in her hands instruments of God’s mercy even as she was such an instrument in God’s hands.” (St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, martyr of Auschwitz)

by Susan Fox

“What a pretty necklace!”
Author Susan Fox wearing the Brown Scapular
of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. 

“Yes, it is,” I think, wearing the short version around my neck, and also, “Great! Another person attracted to God.”

“Yes,” I answer out loud, “It is the Arms of God. And Big Arms they are. For I am wearing the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and those Arms mean that I belong to God Alone and not to the world.”

“Think of it as a Catholic altar call,” I say, “When other Christians go forward to the altar to establish God’s reign in their lives, Catholics wear the Brown Scapular.”

Catholic Comedian Char Vance joked about this garment of grace, saying, “It’s fire insurance.”    Our Lady promised "...whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire."

In one quick meeting, I usually don’t tell them that the Brown Scapular has more blessings associated with it than any other scapular in the Catholic Church, nor do I say -- but it’s true anyway -- that everyone in the world should wear such a garment of grace, a miniature work apron of the Carmelite Order, for the simple reason that it is a baptismal garment whether you are formally baptized or baptized by desire. Nothing defiled shall enter into heaven. Nothing defiled shall enter into the Triune Community Life of God for all eternity. But those who desire it shall.
Our Lady gives St. Simon Stock the Brown Scapular
The Carmelites – newly transplanted to England in 1251 – argued among themselves about the appearance of the outer coat of their habit. The Blessed Mother settled the matter when she gave them the Brown Scapular, telling St. Simon Stock that she modeled the scapular on the humble work apron of the Carmelites because she valued their work more than their pretty outer plumage. People are surprised when I tell them that the two little brown squares of my “necklace” are actually miniature work aprons. 

Wearing the Brown Scapular is a means of saying to God that you want to throw all the idols out of your life – money, work, health, success, a handsome boyfriend/pretty girlfriend, fashion, other people’s opinions, and dare I mention shopping -- anything you are attached to other than God. Throw them out. Embrace your freedom.
This Brown Scapular is
normally worn under one's clothes

The Brown Scapular is a sign that Mary is leading you to Jesus. It says you accept the yoke of Mary and her fiat – “Be it done to me according to your word.”  Those are the words she spoke in the shadow of Mount Carmel to the Angel Gabriel when she was asked to be the Mother of God. So if you can only wear one scapular, make it the Brown.

     However, if you wish to live a holy and spotless life; if you really wish to push yourself as far as possible to love the Lord your God with your Whole Heart and if there is room in your life for a second scapular, consider the Blue.

"I am the Immaculate Conception,” Our Lady told St. Bernadette at Lourdes, France. Wearing the Blue Scapular is a way of honoring Mary in her Immaculate Conception. And who better to lead us out of sin, to push us on to a perfect life than Mary herself? Jesus wants us to “be perfect” as His Heavenly Father is perfect. Mary herself, the greatest masterpiece of God’s Creation, holds the key to that process.

She was conceived without original sin by the special merits of her Son’s subsequent Passion, Death and Resurrection. Mary, like all of us, was saved by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

But God is outside of time! And He chose to apply the merits of His Son’s death to His Mother’s conception so that Mary could become the New Ark of the Covenant – the spotless vessel of Divine Mercy, Jesus Himself.

Neither the Blue nor the Brown have to be worn as a scapular. The Blue Scapular of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary comes with a medal, which can be substituted for the Blue Scapular. One can fix the medal to one’s Brown scapular or one’s underclothing.

The Brown Scapular recalls the events on Mount Carmel in the Old Testament. Remember it was on Mount Carmel that the prophet Elijah proved to the pagan priests of the god, Baal, that Yahweh was the one, true and living God. And for that reason wearing the Brown is a first step into a life of striving for holiness. 

Elijah told them to go get their fat bullock and he said, “I’ll get mine. Then we’ll see whose god is the true God.” Elijah reasoned that if the gods of Baal were real, they would burn up the bullock provided by their priests, and if Yahweh was the one true God he would burn up Elijah’s sacrifice.

There were some 500 priests of Baal, and they all worked for Jezebel, the evil queen of Israel. So they laid out the sacrifice, repeated their meaningless words and cut themselves, but still Baal did not burn up their sacrifice. It took so much time that Elijah cracked a joke:  “Where is your gods? Have they gone aside?”  According to the footnote in one Catholic Bible, that means, “Excuse me, but have they gone to the restroom?”

It was now Elijah’s turn to pray to His God. He dumped tons of water on his bull, and he built a moat around the bull, and filled it with water. Excuse me, how will this will assist God in burning up the sacrifice??
Elijah vs: Baal
God consumes the sacrifice

It won’t. But when Elijah called on Yahweh, fire came from heaven instantly, and the sacrifice was burned up completely, and the water dried up in the moat. That’s how God likes to consume His sacrifices – all of it at once. And that’s the kind of passionate relationship you step into when you wear the Brown.

The Old Testament recounts that the Israelites killed the priests of Baal, all 500 of them that afternoon. Now just substitute the names of your own idols for those 500 priests: shopping, good food, control, power, a big house, other people’s opinions, wanting a cute boyfriend/girlfriend at any cost, wanting your neighbor’s goods, seeing your neighbor’s faults  – anything you might be attached to other than God Himself. Kill them all!

“Love the Lord Your God with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole strength and your whole being.” Or as Mary said, “My whole being proclaims the greatness of the Lord!”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Now it is an interesting footnote to this story that Our Lady of Mount Carmel also appeared in the sun during the miracle of the sun at Fatima, Portugal, on Oct. 13, 1917. It was raining that day, and the ground was soaked. The people’s clothes were soaked. Then the sun came down out of the sky and appeared to rush toward some 70,000 spectators who came to witness the miracle God had promised. Everyone was frightened, and they called on God to save them.

Meanwhile, the Fatima visionaries, Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia, saw of Our Lady in her brown Carmelite habit in the sun. And after the miracle was over, everyone noticed that the sun had dried the muddy ground and their clothes completely. All the water from the soaking rain earlier that day was gone. God had accepted the sacrifice of the people at Fatima in the same manner he accepted Elijah’s sacrifice on Mount Carmel. In the same manner, He will accept your sacrifice when you put on the Brown.
The Blue Scapular
The Blue Scapular is for those who want heaven to soak them in special graces. The requirements to wear the Blue Scapular fit readily into the lifestyle of someone who is already consecrated themselves to Jesus through Mary. If you have not done that, see  Confessions of a Scrupulous Devotee of Mary and SOLDIER AND CHILD: Rock of True Devotion to Mary

The requirements are that you show special devotion to the Blessed Mother in the mystery of her Immaculate Conception, that you wear the blue scapular or the medal consistently, that you live a life of chastity according to your state in life, that you pray for the sick and dying, the souls in Purgatory, sinners, and for God’s mercy on the world. I don’t know about you, but I have added these intentions to my prayer list many times, but it is really only necessary to do it once, telling our Lady you give your life to her keeping and ask her to remember these intentions for you.

Also it is required that you receive the sacraments frequently especially on the feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that you pray for the souls of the deceased members of the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (all the people enrolled in the Blue Scapular), and recite daily (if possible) the Ten Virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception. But the prayer part is not a requirement.

Those who wear the scapular can receive a plenary indulgence (all penalty for sin will be removed) under the usual conditions (Mass, confession Eucharist, prayers for Pope in a church and no attachment to sin) on Dec. 8, Aug. 15, Dec. 25, Feb. 2, Easter, Ascension Thursday, the feast of St. Cajetan (Aug. 7), and at the moment of death – also on the day that you are invested with the scapular.

People who wear the Blue Scapular declare solemnly that they do not want to dedicate their lives to the passing things of this world, but – like Mary – they want to dedicate their lives to God alone.

The Blue Scapular is a sign of special devotion to Mary Immaculate, and her special help for us as her children.  The Blessed Mother with a special love embraces those who wear the Blue because we are telling her that we want to live like her – in holiness. When I was a child, I told God I needed “doubly bubbly” grace or lazy me wouldn’t make to heaven. The Brown and the Blue – worn with the right interior intention – is what I would call “doubly bubbly” grace. (That’s not a theological term of the Catholic Church.)

“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.” With the Blue Scapular, we are saying that prayer: “Mary -- you without sin -- help me overcome my sins.”  There are many references in the Bible to putting on a clean garment, to those clad in white robes, to those who are wearing robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. The Blue Scapular is a reference to this “new” garment. Those who wear it express their desire for holiness, for remaining in union with God and for making their entire lives a liturgy to the glory of the Lord. To wear the Blue Scapular is also to put oneself under the protection of Mary’s mantle, a very good place to be.

If you have made or plan to make your consecration to Jesus through Mary, this scapular is an apt outward sign of your total consecration. St. Louis Marie de Montfort highly praised the wearing of the scapular as a means of showing devotion to Mary as long as it is accompanied by the inward desire for holiness.

The Blue Scapular is the official scapular of the Marians of Stockbridge, Mass. (the Divine Mercy Marians). As such, those who are enrolled share in the spiritual benefits of the daily Masses, prayers and other good works of the Marian priests and brothers of the Immaculate Conception.

Those who would like to receive the Blue Scapular may contact Father Michael Gaitley, MIC, Association of Marian Helpers, Eden Hill, Stockbridge, Mass. 01263. He will send you a packet including the Blue Scapular, and a Scapular Medal, and he will tell you how to get your local Catholic priest to invest you in the scapular. The authority to do so comes from the Marians, but they freely share that authority with any priest you chose. Their online catalogue is located at Online Catalogue Marians of Stockbridge, Mass. USA

The Brown Scapular also requires investment by a Catholic priest, but only once in your life, and Brown Scapulars can be purchased in most Catholic Book Stores.
The Green Scapular is for converting
your friends. 
There is another powerful tool in Our Lady’s arsenal: the Green Scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is a wonderful tool for conversion for your obstinate un-churched and lapsed Catholic friends or relatives. Hide it in a secret location in their house where they never clean. It will secure for them faith and a happy death. To accomplish this, you should recite the prayer for them daily, which appears on the Scapular:  "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at our hour of death."

What else can we do with our obstinate friends and relatives except pray for them, and hide scapulars (the Green one) in their couch. Keep a goodly supply on your person.

Investiture is not required for the Green, but a priest should bless it. I have kept a Green Scapular in my purse for years. It has saved me from many bad situations.

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