The Catholic Defender: Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Growing up in Middle America, I had heard of the Monks who lived on Mount Carmel in the 12th century. Mother Mary became the Patronage of the "Carmelite" Order.
Mount Carmel was the site where the Prophet Elijah challenged the Priests of Baal found in the Bible (1 Kings 18:16-40). I have always loved this story as one of the greatest examples showing who the true God really is.
450 prophets of Ba'al accepted the challenge of Elijah on Mount Carmel as they prepared an altar and sacrificed to their god. All day long the priests called for Ba'al, but not a word. By noon, Elijah had some fun mocking them, "Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is musing, or he has gone aside, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened".
The Priest's of Ba'al cried louder, cutting themselves with swords, lances causing themselves to bleed. They literally wore themselves out trying to call upon their false god. Finally, at the appointed time, the time of Oblation (3 O'clock) the Pagans gave it up. Elijah called for God's Altar of 12 stones in accordance to the 12 tribes of Jacob to be restored and placed upon it was the Sacrifice. To add insult to injury, Elijah had a trench dug around it filled with water to include throwing water that saturated the wood prepared for the holocaust. The Altar was fully swamped with water. At 3 O'Clock, Elijah cried, "O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that thou, O lord, art God, and that thou hast turned their hearts back."
At that exact moment, the fire of the Lord came and totally burned the whole Sacrifice as the people watched. This was so obvious, the people fell on their faces before the site crying, "The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God".
Hermits lived on Mount Carmel near the Fountain of Elijah in northern Israel in the 12th century. They had a chapel dedicated to Our Lady. By the 13th century they became known as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” They soon celebrated a special Mass and Office in honor of Mary. In 1726, it became a celebration of the universal Church under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For centuries the Carmelites have seen themselves as specially related to Mary. Their great saints and theologians have promoted devotion to her and often championed the mystery of her Immaculate Conception.
There have been times in the history of the Church when men of God like St. Anthony and others had similar examples where God showed Himself like the case of the hungry Mule in the plaza that recognized the Eucharistic Lord before a bucket of feed.
Back to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in the 12th Century, a chapel was erected near the very site of Elijah remembered as the "Fountain of Elijah" that is located in Northern Israel. The popular usage of the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel became popular in the 15th century. The Blessed Mother according to St. Simon Stock, appeared to him saying that the Scapular forming the Carmelite habit, promised that those wearing the Scapular would not suffer eternal hell fire.
On my personal Brown Scapular that I've had with me for many years, it says, “Whosoever dies clothed in this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” During the Gulf War I placed it just above my right bicep on my upper arm because wearing the Brown Scapular along with our army "dog tags" was not feasible so that was my way of wearing it under my tee-shirt. The way it kind of dangled around my arm reminded me of the Ultimate Warrior (WWE) who used to wear strings like that.
For me the spiritual connection is unmistakable with everything we are witnessing today. Unfortunately, like it was in the time of the Prophet Elijah, we are seeing the rise of ancient Paganism returning in the Western World. People are accepting false gods everywhere for the cause of "personal freedom". People are accepting the sin of homosexuality, sexual sins of all kinds, things we have been warned about time and time again.
St. Paul writes, "Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for man-slayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted." 1 Timothy 1:8-11
Consider Galatians 5:17-21, "For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Yet, all these things are now seen as a "personal right", an expectation. Consider this warning given by Mother Mary at Fatima in 1917:
Our Lady of Fatima, on October 13th, 1917, held the Brown Scapular in Her hand, making the three child seers, Lucy, Jacinta and Francisco, understand that She wants all of us to wear the Scapular. In a 1936 letter, written at Pontevedra, Sister Lucy quotes Our Lord as saying that He wants devotion to His Mother´s Immaculate Heart alongside devotion to His own Sacred Heart.
In consecrating ourselves to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, it is a call to follow the Lord through holiness, through following His will in our lives. The Brown Scapular represents that consecration. It symbolizes Mother Mary's special protection and calls the wearers to consecrate themselves to her in a special way. The scapular reminds us of the gospel call to prayer and penance—a call that Mary models in a splendid way.
St. Teresa of Avila called Carmel “the Order of the Virgin.” St. John of the Cross credited Mary with saving him from drowning as a child, leading him to Carmel, and helping him escape from prison. St. Therese of the Child Jesus believed that Mary cured her from illness. On her First Communion day, Therese dedicated her life to Mary. During the last days of her life she frequently spoke of Mary.
It is believed that Mary appeared to Saint Simon Stock, a leader of the Carmelites, and gave him a scapular, telling him to promote devotion to it. The scapular is a modified version of Mary’s own garment. It symbolizes her special protection and calls the wearers to consecrate themselves to her in a special way. The scapular reminds us of the gospel call to prayer and penance—a call that Mary models in a splendid way.
Colossians 1:15-17 states, "He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities--all things were created through him and for him."
The Catholic Church is the "Bark of Peter" that Jesus speaks to the world. The Church is that ship that takes us to safety through the Sacraments, God's Grace. Our Lady, the true Queen of Heaven, calls for the Church to listen to her Divine Son. The Brown Scapular is a sign of predestination as we are on pilgrimage through this life preparing for the next.
As Elijah called upon the Lord at the 3 O'Clock hour, Jesus dies on the cross at that appointed hour, the time of Oblation that would ratify a new and everlasting Covenant to fulfill the Prophet Malachi, "For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts."
The Carmelites were known from early on as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” The title suggests that they saw Mary not only as “mother,” but also as “sister.” The word sister is a reminder that Mary is very close to us. She is the daughter of God and therefore can help us be authentic daughters and sons of God. She also can help us grow in appreciation of being sisters and brothers to one another. She leads us to a new realization that all human beings belong to the family of God. When such a conviction grows, there is hope that the human race can find its way to peace.
"O most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me you are my Mother. O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succor me in this necessity (make request). There are none that can withstand your power. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Sweet Mother I place this cause in your hands. Amen."