Clicks4
jili22

The scapular of Carmel

Summary

The scapular, habit of the Virgin Mary

a) The scapular, a garment placed in a particular historical context
b) Mary, a mother wanting to put on her children
c) Clothe oneself inwardly with Jesus Christ

The scapular, habit of the Virgin Mary

In his letter to Carmel of March 25, 2001, Saint John Paul II defined the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel as follows: “The scapular is essentially a 'habit'”. But what is the significance of this garment? The historical context of the apparition of Mary handing over the scapular and the underlying biblical symbolism allow the outline of a response.

a) The scapular, a garment placed in a particular historical context

The oldest writings on the shoulder are dated 13 th century, when the chapter of Montpellier Carmelites (1287) the mentions as dress of the Carmelite , where fraternities registers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (particularly Florence , dating from the 1280s) record the names of the faithful wearing it. The oldest scapular found to date is probably the one worn by Pope Gregory X († 1276); he was discovered on his body when it was exhumed ... 19 th century.

As for the appearance of Our Lady handing the scapular to Simon, the oral tradition traces back to July 16, 1251 - at the heart of the 13 th century - in the small village of Aleysford 40 km from London , which fits very well with the socio-historical context of South East England. This context indeed allows an interpretation of the gesture and the word delivered by Notre-Dame to Simon in the right line of the biblical writings!

What happened on this day of July 16, 1251? Let us leave one of the old Latin manuscripts, the one kept at the National Library of France, to inform us: after having invoked Mary on numerous occasions, to ask her for her protection in difficult times, “Our Lady appeared [to Simon] , surrounded by a multitude of angels, holding a scapular in her hand and saying: “This is a privilege for you and those of Carmel, whoever dies thus clothed will be saved” ”. For Simon, the surprise must have been great. Not only had the Virgin appeared to him, but she also gave him a dress to put on! Why receive this garment from Mary? What was this object called a scapular? For Simon and the context of his time, the answers to these questions were clear, yet surprising.

b) Mary, a mother wanting to put on her children

In fact, by handing Simon a scapular, Mary presents herself to him as a mother , a mother seeking to clothe her child. Yet Simon - like the Carmelites of medieval times - sought the support of Notre-Dame, instead invoking her power as sovereign! But during her appearance, Marie is not crowned, and her gesture of wanting to put on Simon is an eminently… maternal gesture . What is, in fact, the first gesture of a mother when her child has just been born? What was the first gesture of Mary herself in the manger, immediately after the birth of Jesus? “She gave birth to her firstborn son, she wrapped him in swaddling clothes” (Lk 2,7)… Wearing the scapular, for Simon and for all the faithful today, therefore meansaccept the maternal presence of Mary in her life . By putting on the scapular, the faithful then imitates the beloved disciple responding positively to Jesus' command given on the Cross: “'Here is your mother'. And from that hour on, says the Evangelist John, the disciple took her to his home ”(Jn 19,27). Wearing the scapular is a way of taking Marie home.

A second point may have surprised Simon: if Mary speaks of salvation ("Whoever dies thus clothed will be saved"), she also makes it clear that this cannot be acquired by the simple fact of accepting to put on her livery! The symbol of the dress with which a mother puts on her little child is in itself significant: just as a mother dresses her newborn baby because he is unable to dress himself, so Mary wishes to clothe his children with salvation that no one could acquire by himself. However, by receiving a scapular from the hands of Mary, Simon does not receive a white coat, this bright color symbolizing salvation in the biblical corpus. It receives instead a drab suit because the scapular to 13 ecentury, is a simple work outfit! Peasants going to work in the fields, blacksmiths getting ready to work with iron and fire, or others, could wear this garment made up of two large pieces of fabric put over the shoulders, covering the front and back of the body, to avoid soiling, burning or tearing the clothes. Every believer wearing the scapular is thus invited to set to work: Mary implicitly asks him to cooperate in his own salvation by putting into practice the commandments given by Christ. "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord', and don't do as I say? »(Lk 6,46), asks Jesus of the crowds that follow him ...

c) Clothe oneself inwardly with Jesus Christ

To summarize, the garment given by Our Lady evokes the promise of her maternal help for whoever wears it, while inviting the faithful to work for their salvation. Whoever puts on the scapular is a disciple of Christ, a child of the Church, walking alongside Mary. Saint John Paul II, in his letter of 2001, says it in his own way: “May he who puts on the scapular experience the gentle and maternal presence of Mary, in the daily commitment to clothe himself internally with Jesus Christ. and to manifest it in a living way in oneself for the good of the Church and of all humanity ”…

This exhortation allows for a final clarification. If Mary gives a habit for salvation, this habit is none other than Jesus himself . “All of you who have been baptized have put on Christ” (Ga 3,27) reveals Saint Paul to the Galatians. In this context, the habit given by the Virgin is not a habit replacing the grace of baptism, on the contrary: the humble habit of the scapular, worn on a daily basis, means that the faithful work every day to shape their life. and his works to his faith, allowing the grace of the Spirit originally received at baptism to unfold in him.

Pope John Paul II, faithful bearer of the scapular, was keenly aware of this. Let us leave the last words to him: “Piety towards Mary […] must constitute a“ habit ”, that is to say a permanent orientation of his own Christian conduct, woven of prayer and interior life, through practice. frequent the sacraments and the concrete exercise of works of spiritual and bodily mercy. In this way, the scapular becomes a sign of alliance and reciprocal communion between Mary and the faithful ”(Letter of March 25, 2001).