Invite family & friends to the
Arizona Rosary Celebration
October 14-15, 2023
Sunday, October 15, 2023
2:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Doors open at noon for
confession, adoration, exhibits.
Phoenix Convention Center
33 S. 3rd St., Phoenix, AZ 85004
South Building, Halls F & G
Saturday, October 14, 2023
10:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
St. Augustine Cathedral
192 S. Stone Ave., Tucson, AZ 85701
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
By James Peck, OCDS, President, Radio Family Rosary
The Carmelite Order and the Brown Scapular
The Carmelite Order was founded by a group of hermits on Mount Carmel in Israel in the late 12th or early 13th century. This was during the time of the Latin crusader state, when most of the Holy Land was governed by Christians. The first Carmelite monks were former crusaders, nobles, and pilgrims who sought peace and solace in the contemplative live of a hermit.
Mount Carmel was the place where Elijah sought refuge from the wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel during the drought. The Carmelites saw themselves as descended from the school of prophets formed on Mount Carmel by the biblical prophet Elijah. They shared the same prophetic vocation as Elijah as his school of prophets, seeking a direct encounter with God. They interpreted the story of Elijah and the vision of the cloud arising from the sea to end the drought as a vision of the Immaculate Mary rising out of the sea of humanity to bring the fruitful spiritual rain of Christ coming into the world (1 Kgs 18:41-46).
These hermits came together as a community and constructed a common chapel dedicated to Mary. From the beginning devotion to Mary was at the heart of Carmelite life. She was known as "the Lady of the place." As the community grew they desired to have a rule of life to govern themselves. This was provided by the local bishop, St. Albert Patriarch of Jerusalem in his rule of about 1209, which still governs the Carmelite order to this day.
The Carmelite rule gives a simple structure for the hermits to live in solitude as a community. The heart of the rule is for each Carmelite to stay in his own cell pondering the Lord's law day and night and observing his prayers, while gathering together for meals, daily mass, and regular community business. Teresa of Avila saw the rule as given by the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Three elements defined the early Carmelite relationship to Mary:
The model of prophetic life, an ideal to be emulated. For Carmelites she is not only a mother but also a sister. Mary exemplifies their prophetic vocation. According to ancient legend, during her life Mary often visited the prophetic hermits from the school of Elijah living on Mount Carmel.
The belonged to her by special dedication and title; "the hermit brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel." They are hers by way of vow.
Mary has pledged herself to watch and protect the Carmelite community. The Carmelites have a particular claim and right to her assistance as signified by the scapular.
Shortly after the community was formed, the political situation in the Holy Land began to deteriorate and the Carmelites began a slow exodus to Europe. They completely abandoned the Holy Land in 1291 after the Moslem Turks conquered the crusader state. They founded communities modeled after the hermits of Mount Carmel in Cyprus, Sicily, Italy, Germany, England, and France. Life in Europe was difficult for the Carmelites as they struggled to gain ecclesiastical recognition and defections of members to other more established religious orders.
In 1247 they elected their first Prior General in Europe, Saint Simon Stock. St. Simon began adapting the order to the new conditions of living in Europe, approaching Pope Innocent IV to amend the rule to allow foundations in urban settings and to take up a mendicant charism, becoming friars instead of hermits. St. Simon sought Mary's protection for the order during these perilous times for the Carmelites, and composed the prayer to her we still know today, Flos Carmeli.
Our Lady appeared to him in 1251 and held out the brown scapular which she offered to Carmelites as a pledge of her protection; "whoever dies piously clothed in the scapular shall not suffer eternal fire, rather he shall be saved." The brown scapular is the signature of the Carmelite Order to this day. Carmelites where the scapular at all times to remain under Mary's mantle of protection.
As devotion to Mary grew throughout Europe, lay people sought the protection Our Lady promised to the Carmelites. The friars began solemnly enrolling people in the scapular using small pieces of cloth from the same material as their habit, affiliating them with the Carmelites.
The scapular consists of two pieces of brown wool cloth connected by two pieces of string that are worn over the shoulders so that the pieces of cloth rest on both the front and the back of the wearer. It is its own garment, signifying Mary's mantle, worn underneath regular clothing.
All who wear the scapular and practice the spirituality of the Carmelite Order have some affiliation with the Order. This spirituality is characterized by:
1. Frequent participation in the mass.
2. Frequent reading and meditation on sacred scripture.
3. A liturgical life grounded in the prayer of the church
4. Imitation of and devotion to Mary
5. The practice of the virtues, notably charity, chastity, and obedience to the will of God.
Anyone can be invested in the brown scapular by a priest, deacon, or authorized representative through a ceremony of enrollment.
Mary teaches us by her example and devotion to the scapular:
1. to be open to God and to His will, shown to us in the events of our lives.
2. to listen to the Word of God in the Bible and in life, to believe in it and to put into practice its demands
3. to pray at all times s a way of discovering the presence of God in all that is happening around us.
4. to be involved with others, being attentive to their needs.
The scapular is not:
1. A magical charm of protection
2. an automatic guarantee of salvation
3. an excuse for not living up to the demands of the Christian life.
The brown scapular is:
1. A sign which has been approved by the Church for nearly eight centuries.
2. A sign of our decision to follow Jesus like Mary.
3. An association with the spirituality of the Carmelite Order.
The image is loaned with permission of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles.