I speak with the Devil every day. I talk to him in Latin. He answers in Italian. I have been wrestling with him, day in day out, for 14 years. — Fr. Gabriele Amorth, Exorcist

 

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The Brown Scapular

Karol Wojtyla
A young Karol Wojtyla wearing his scapular

 St. Simon Stock was a Carmelite in the 1200′s. He moved through Europe establishing Carmelite communities. He helped to change the order from one that was largely hermitic to an order more prominent in the community. In 1251, St. Simon Stock was in England at a time when the Carmelite order was being oppressed. It was in Cambridge that the Blessed Mother appeared to him. She held the brown scapular in one hand and spoke to him, “”Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.”

 The scapular consists of two squares of cloth, one worn on the chest, one on the back, attached by cords. The scapulars worn by members of the Carmelite order were made with large squares of brown fabric. Over the years, the devotion became popular with the lay community. The form of the scapular changed, the cloth patches reduced in size. A list of indulgences, indults and priveleges was approved by the Congregation of Indulgences in 1908.

The brown scapular is above all a symbol of devotion and dedication to the Blessed Mother. It is a blessing bestowed on the wearer and a helpful reminder in difficult times. The brown scapular also confers the “Sabbatine Privilege” upon its wearer. This privilege is a promise from the Blessed Mother, that she will intercede and pray for those in purgatory and that those souls will be welcomed into heaven on the Saturday after passing. This promise is based on the devotee living a devout life with these conditions:

- The scapular is worn in good faith
- The wearer observed chastity according to thier state in life
- The wearer recited daily the Little Office or prayed the rosary
- The wearer departed this life in charity

The Sabbatine Privilege should not be looked at as some sort of magical talisman or charm. It is no guarantee. It is an aid to help one reflect on how they live this life and a way to honor the mother of our Lord. A proud testimonial in a time where it is unpopular to make such a statement. Wearing the scapular as a “get out of jail free card” while not living a life of devotion and prayer misses the point.

The scapular is a very common gift for first communion or confirmation. But simply receiving the scapular does not enroll one. The enrollment must be done by a priest. The enrollment can be found in the Daily Roman Missal, and most priests will have no problem enrolling you. At the time of enrollment, you may want to ask permission (of the priest) to substitute praying the rosary, psalms, etc. for the recitation of the Little Office (a shorter form of the Divine Office) if you are unfamiliar with it. Below is a short form of the enrollment in the brown scapular.

Receive this Scapular, a sign of your special relationship with Mary the Mother of Jesus, whom you pledge to imitate. May it be a reminder to you of your dignity as a Christian, in serving others and imitating Mary. Wear it as a sign of her protection and of belonging to the family of Carmel, voluntarily doing the will of God and devoting yourself to building a world true to his plan of community, justice and peace.

Because you wear the scapular always (well nearly always anyway), it needs replacement on occasion. It is important to note that the enrollment is the blessing in this case. When you replace a scapular, it is not necesarry to have the new one blessed – the enrollment is the blessing.

So if you have an old scapular laying around that you forgot about – or you have been wearing one and were unaware of the enrollment or responsibilities – it’s not too late… see your priest after Mass and kindly ask him to enroll you. The blessings, graces and help of the Blessed Mother are sure to strengthen you as you make your way through this life.