Thursday, July 16, 2015

Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

(Exodus 2:1-15a; Matthew 11:20-24)

Today’s optional memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel celebrates one of the most revered manifestations of the Blessed Virgin.  She is said to have given St. Simon Stock, the prior general of the Carmelite Order in the middle of the thirteenth century, the order’s brown scapular.  The scapular has served as part of the order’s religious dress to this day.  At the same time Our Lady is said to have promised salvation to those who persevere in wearing it.

For those who are not Carmelite religious, the scapular has been reduced in size so that it may be worn as a neck pendant under regular clothing.  No doubt millions of lay people around the word do just that trusting in Our Lady’s promise.  The story may sound quaint, but it underscores the narrative unfolding in the first reading these days.  As God comes to the aid of His people when they are perishing, He will assist us in our weakness if we devote ourselves to him.

Wearing a scapular is not necessary to be saved, but it serves to remind us of our need for God’s grace.  Jesus died that we might acknowledge God’s love.  He also has shared with us his Blessed Mother whose pleading on our behalf also wins God’s favor.