+Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel+
I'm popping in for a few minutes for this special occasion.
July 16th marks a special feast day in the church where we celebrate the gift of a Sacramental...The brown scapular. It's one of my favorite stories and traditions of the church:)
These new brown scapulars our children are wearing were hand embroidered by a dear Catholic blogger and tucked inside this year's Easter baskets:) Though not our originals, they are just beautiful treasures and they support Barbara's lovely apostolate!
When talking to our children, we remind them that Sacramentals are not some "good luck charm" to be worn in such fashion, nor do they surround superstitions.
*Disclaimer* I'm no expert but I do my best to share what I've learned in simple terms. It's how I learn myself and it's how we teach our children. In turn, I've cited as many sources/resources as I can since I know for non-Catholics, these things can be hard to understand.
Sacramentals are simply holy objects, radiating the Sacraments, approved by the church, that can be used or worn to ask for God's blessings. i.e.) Holy water, statues, rosary beads, etc. They are sacred signs that may bring about greater good and also help put us in right position to receive grace, ALL through prayer. (CCC 1670) In other words, it's nothing short of an honor to wear or handle these things and we should not take them lightly. For non-Catholics, I once heard that Sacramentals can be equated to wearing wedding rings. Just as wedding rings are outward signs of fidelity in a marriage, Sacramentals are outward signs of our fidelity to Christ.
More about Sacramentals here.
What I love about the scapular is that it is a simple piece of cloth, coming from a long apron that was slung over the shoulder and worn over the robe of ancient monks. (Scapular is Latin for shoulder) These simple brown aprons were later worn to form the shape of a Cross, symbolizing the wearer's readiness to work and serve God. I love the photo and further explanation written in this article.
View from my bedroom corner;)
The story of the brown scapular comes from Our dear Mother Mary. That awesome Mother that Jesus gave us at the foot of the Cross...One of his final gifts to us before leaving earth. (John 19:26-27)
It is for this reason that we Catholics honor Mary, Mother of God, who bore Him in her womb, through the power of the Holy Spirit. For in this way, she cooperated with her Son Jesus in the Salvation of the world. Wow. I remember the first time I learned this. What if Mary had said No? Hmmm, No Mary, No Jesus, No Salvation...No gates of heaven opened! Instead we can know Mary, can know Jesus, can know Salvation. Praise God! Of course we Catholics do not worship anyone but God, that's right. But boy, does Mary ever help us out. Like any good mother, she holds our hand and leads us swiftly to the arms of her Son. Like I tell my kids, she's a "fast pass" to Jesus:) More here.
OH, I almost forgot where I was...Back to the story of the scapular!
Pious legend tells how in the thirteenth century (approximately 1251, the age of Faith) the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in a vision to a holy Carmelite priest named St. Simon Stock. She gave him the first brown scapular, a long with this Scapular Promise that became known: "Whoever dies clothed in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire." (The Catholic Source Book) Soon, ordinary people wanted to wear the Scapular also. So a smaller Scapular was made, like the one we have today. It can be worn (after a vestment ceremony) under one's regular clothes and is considered a badge of devotion. Many children receive this vestment at their First Communion. Read more about the story and get a free scapular here:) We still must be pleasing to God and this devotion helps strengthen us to do so.
Along with the story it's a good (sneaky) summer history and geography lesson:) I always like to remind my children that the Carmelite order of monks originated from Mount Carmel, a mountain in the Holy Land where the first Carmelite servants of God lived.
An easy snack to celebrate the occasion--
Chocolate Graham Scapulars!
We made a couple of different patterns and shared them over at Catholic Cuisine too:)
O Mary, Queen of all Saints,
Lead me to Your Son Jesus,
my King and Savior,
through your most holy heart!
Garment of Grace: The Brown Scapular
Other good sources: Catholic Answers:)