The Brown Scapular is a visible garment with great meaning. The spiritual significance of a simple garment is perhaps as old as human society itself. A garment has always signified something more important than itself. From the time of Elijah the Prophet, a garment had tremendous significance in Carmel. Elijah placed his mantle upon Eliseus who took his place. Eliseus immediately understood the significance of the gesture for the sacred text adds, “and rising up he went away, followed Elijah and ministered to him.” (1Kings 19:21)
When the time came for the ascent of Elijah in the fiery chariot, his successor asked him to leave him his double spirit. Elijah informed him that he had asked for a very difficult thing but promised it would be his; and as he ascended into the clouds, his mantle fell upon Eliseus, bringing him the double spirit of his master. It was not the garment that was significant to him but what it brought with it – the graces of his master.
St. Paul does not hesitate to call the human nature of Christ a Habit. The Redeemer Himself compared grace to a wedding garment, and the Apostle of the Gentiles loved to use the same metaphor of a garment when exhorting us to put on Christ and to clothe ourselves with his virtues.
A garment very special is the one Our Blessed Mother made for her Son Jesus. We can imagine our Blessed Mother making the swaddling clothes in preparation for the birth of Her Son; and when she set out for Bethlehem she made sure to bring them with Her, that She might wrap Him up and lay Him in the manger. Later, during the quiet hours of Nazareth, She prepared the seamless garment He wore to Calvary. She was always mindful of her duty to clothe her Child. Our Blessed Mother extends her motherhood to all the redeemed – to the mystical Body of Christ. Before He died on the Cross Christ proclaimed Her our Mother; and one would almost expect Her to have a Garment for us!
Long before She appeared to St. Simon Stock, the Habit was a sign of devotion to Her. It was worn by the Brothers of the Order of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, who were known for their devotion to Her. The Marian character of the Habit was known to all and recognized by several Popes throughout the ages in official documents.
Almost eight centuries of Christian devotion have helped reveal the hidden treasure of the Scapular. Saints have meditated upon it and scholars have studied it. The Scapular is a sign of our special adoption by the Mother of God and it is graced by many miracles through the prayers and intercession of our good Queen and Mother.
The thought that from the moment She spreads her garment over us, Her special love envelops our whole being should be the greatest force for good in our daily lives. It should inspire us with the profoundest sentiments of love and gratitude and bring us to dedicate ourselves to Her in time and in eternity.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!
Bernadette Porter is a Traditional Catholic, a wife of 41 years with 6 adult home-schooled children and 6 grandchildren. A sincere devotion to Mary, the Mother of God leads me to want to share "The Church's best kept secret" - Mary!