Feast Day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is the patroness of the Carmelite Order. Mt. Carmel, near the modern port city of Haifa, Israel, is not far from where Christ grew up. This had been a holy mountain long before the birth of Our Lord and by the twelfth century it had become a home to Carmelite monastics with a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary as their patroness. By the end of the thirteenth century assorted political and religious strife had caused the Carmelites to depart from Mt. Carmel and travel to Europe. Some Carmelites established monasteries as far north as England.
It was in England in the thirteenth century that one Carmelite, St. Simon Stock, is said to have received the Brown Scapular from Our Lady after having written the beautiful Flos Carmeli prayer. In tradition, St. Simon Stock was also given Mary’s promise of final perseverance and the Sabbatine privilege to those who die wearing the Brown Scapular. Simply put, the Sabbatine privilege consists of the intercession of Our Lady to take the soul of the scapular wearer to heaven on the first Saturday after his death. The Carmelites themselves have said, “Well-meaning people have often spread the devotion with extravagant claims that have no historical background and which are difficult to reconcile with sound Christian Doctrine.
The Carmelite Order certainly does want to share Our Lady’s patronage with those devoted to her and still extends their habit (in the form of the Scapular) and affiliation to the Church Universal. Regarding the promises made to St. Simon Stock, “Carmelite Superiors then point out that private revelation can neither add to nor detract from the deposit of faith in the Catholic Church.” Rather than dwell on concerns of scapular promises, it may be better to remember the words of the great Carmelite, St. John of the Cross, “Strive to preserve your heart in peace; let no event of this world disturb it; reflect that all must come to an end.”
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us.