|Our Lady of Mount Carmel stretches out her arms to us offering protection in our pilgrimage towards heaven. Of all apparitions of Mother Mary, the one at Mount Carmel is quite unique. It was here that she gifted the Brown Scapular to her children as a token of her maternal love and protection.
For us who believe in the true God, Carmel is special in more than one ways. Our association with the Mount of Carmel dates back to the times of Prophet Elijah. It was on this mountain that Elijah built an altar for the Lord and offered a sacrifice which the God of Israel accepted by sending fire from above. This sacrifice was a turning point in the history of the Israelites. Once again the Lord revealed to His chosen people that He and He alone is the true God and that the idols of Baal and Ashera are nothing more than despicable objects.
After annihilating the prophets of Baal, Elijah flees from the Mount of Carmel. On the way he is supported by an angel of God who provided him with a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. With the strength of this heavenly food, Elijah covered his journey of forty days to reach Horeb, the Mount of God. Like Manna, this heavenly food also represents the life giving bread served to us in the form of Holy Eucharist.
Carmel has always been the choicest destination for those hermits and monks who were in search of a place where they coud hear the voice of the Lord in solitude. Located on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea and blessed with copious rain and vegetation, Mount Carmel offered the serene ambience to anybody seriously contemplating a life totally detached from the outside world.
It was here, that our Lady appeared to Simon Stock, a Carmelite in 1251 and gave him the Brown Scapular. Soon this formed part of the Carmelite habit. In Stock’s vision, Mary promised that those who died wearing the Scapular would be saved from eternal damnation. Brown Scapular signifies the wearer’s consecration to Mary. It is the symbol of her special protection to those who consecrate themselves to her in a special way. Since then Catholics around the world have been consecrating their lives to Mary so as to ensure her help and succour at all times, especially at the time of death, and beyond.
As the world is passing through difficult and testing times, we invite you to consecrate your lives to our Holy Mother and make it a habit to always wear a Scapular blessed by a priest. By consecration, we are surrendering our lives to the Mother.
Consecration is a special call to the ‘interior life of Mary’ instilling in us the urge for a pre-eminently Marian life. Mary’s life was one in which grace flowered into spiritual wealth in abundance. This led her to a life of recollection, prayer and complete submission to God resulting in a continual and intimate union with Him. Saints and theologians agree that Mary’s soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone, where no human creature has ever left its trace. Her heart was one overflowing with love and zeal for the glory of God, and salvation of mankind was her supreme goal.
If we are serious about a life consecrated to Our Holy Mother, we must follow Mary into the depths of her interior life, which was essentially a life of contemplation. Carmel denotes this life of contemplation, wholly dedicated to the quest for God and totally oriented towards a close relation with God. We call Mary, who best symbolises this way of life, the “Queen and Splendor of Carmel”.
During the Fatima apparitions of 1917, the Holy Mother revealed herself as the Lady of Mount Carmel to the visionaries. The Garabandal apparitions in Spain (1961–1965) were also reported to be images of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel indicating the need for us to run to her in times of need. She is our perpetual succour and we need her help every day, every moment. If our submission is complete, she will guide us through the testing times of our life.
Millions of Christians have made it a habit to wear the Brown Scapular as a token of their total consecration to Mary. Let us also join them and place our lives and what all we have at the disposal of our beloved Mother. Trust in her promise that with Scapular and Rosary she will save the world. Also remember the Sabbatine Privilege traditionally associated with the Brown Scapular and the indulgences approved by the Church for those who regularly wear the Scapular.
Let us pray:
O most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me you are my Mother. O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succour me in this hour of need. There are none that can withstand your power. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands. Amen.
While praying, keep in mind that the prayer is but the external manifestation of our deep commitment to a Marian way of life. Without this will and dedication to lead a life of contemplation, consecration becomes a futile exercise. We are called to bear fruits; not to waste our time in futilities. May Our Lady of Mount Carmel help us in this journey to spiritual perfection.