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Brookline Carmel Bulletin

July10, 1960

Cogitatio Sancta

(Holy Meditation)


The Scapular Privilege



The Scapular Vision of Our lady to St. Simon Stock merits our consideration because it gives us an idea of the point of view Heaven takes of the trials that weigh down our souls from time to time.  Ordinarily, when our spirit is staggering under the weight of our cross, we betake ourselves to our Patron Saint and earnestly beseech him (or her) to show us a special sign of his protection by sweeping away all our troubles as if by a miracle.  Perhaps we think up some extraordinary plan that would do just that.  We almost demand that the Saint obtain its accomplishment for us, emboldened as we are by the devotion we have always manifested to him, thinking we have earned as much in recompense.


St. Simon Stock was a man sorely beset by trials.  The Carmelite Order he so loved and which he governed as Prior General was threatened with extinction by circumstances both within and without the Order.  So he went to Our Lady and besought her unceasingly to bestow upon the Order a special sign of her protection and to grant it a special privilege that would exalt the Order, vindicate its rights, put its enemies to shame and resolve all its difficulties.  Our Lady answered his prayer, as you all know, by appearing to him holding a Scapular of the Order in her hands, and speaking these words:  “This is your sign, and a privilege to all Carmelites.  Whoever dies wearing this shall not suffer eternal fire.”  Then before leaving she told him to tell the reigning Pontiff of the troubles besetting the Order.  He would take care of them.


These words of Our Lady provide us, therefore, with the outlook of Heaven.  They tell us that we are too concerned about temporal matters and not sufficiently concerned about eternal ones.  Simon begged that the Order be exalted in the eyes of men; Our Lady promised to save its members from eternal fire.  Simon wanted the privilege to be bestowed under some new sign that he could flaunt in the face of the enemies of the Order; Our Lady attached it to the familiar Carmelite Scapular, already long since a part of the habit.  Simon probably wanted all their difficulties overcome in a fortnight; Our Lady told him in effect:  Go through the channels.


In attaching the privilege – preservation from hell fire – to the Scapular, Our Blessed Mother was telling Simon Stock that what should have been uppermost in his mind was the salvation of his soul, and what is more, she pointed out the only possible way to achieve it:  living up to the obligations of his state in life – one chosen after prudent deliberation and with the blessings of the Church.  And as for the difficulties, let him go to those who are vested with the authority of God.  In his case, to the Sovereign Pontiff, who was divinely commissioned to pasture the flock of the Lord, for God wills that we use the means provided by Him; He chooses to deal with us through His lawful representatives.  It is only rarely that He does not, and even those rare cases He wants submitted to the approval of His Church.


The Church shows that she Herself interprets the vision this way, for she has made it possible for all the faithful to share in the Scapular promise, that is, she has given all the permission to become Carmelites.  So when a person dons the Scapular he is binding himself to seek his personal sanctity by a perfect observance of the obligations of his state in life.  In his state of life, if perfectly lived out according to God’s will, the faithful soul will find all the crosses, sacrifices and purifications, all the opportunities for love and generosity, all the actual graces necessary to bring him to the perfection of Charity.  When he does his best to do this, then he is wearing the Scapular piously, and he cannot fail to escape eternal fire.


The wearing of the Scapular is also a sign of devotion to Our Lady because our resolution to seek sanctity in our state in life wins for us her special care and solicitude.  We intensify our will to do what we should do anyway; she intensifies her will to do what she is supposed to do anyway.  We know that a thing is perfect when it does what it was made to do.  We give Mary great honor and glory when we give her the opportunity to be and to do what she was born to be and to do:  Be our Mother, and give Jesus to mankind.

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