Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
The Carmelites see in the Blessed Virgin Mary a perfect model of the interior life of prayer and contemplation to which Carmelites aspire, a model of virtue, as well as the person who was closest in life to Jesus Christ. She is seen as the one who points Christians most surely to Christ, saying to all what she says to the servants at the wedding at Cana, "Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you." Carmelites look to Mary as spiritually their mother and sister. [a]
Carmelite devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel means "a special call to the interior life, which is preeminently a Marian life. Our Lady wants us to resemble her not only in our outward vesture but, far more, in heart and spirit. If we gaze into Mary's soul, we shall see that grace in her has flowered into a spiritual life of incalcuable wealth: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted oblation to God, continual contact, and intimate union with him. Mary's soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone, where no human creature has ever left its trace, where love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind reign supreme... Those who want to live their devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to the full must follow Mary into the depths of her interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, the life wholly dedicated to the quest for God, wholly orientated towards intimacy with God; and the one who has best realized this highest of ideals is Our Lady herself, 'Queen and Splendor of Carmel'." (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi, OCD)
The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is known to many Catholic faithful as the "scapular feast," associated with the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a devotional sacramental signifiying the wearer's consecration to Mary and affiliation with the Carmelite Order. A tradition first attested to in the late 14th century says that Saint Simon Stock, an early prior general of the Carmelite Order, had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in which she gave him the Brown Scapular which formed part of the Carmelite habit, promising that those who died wearing the scapular would be saved. [a]
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
blessed are you amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Father, may the prayers of the Virgin Mary protect us
and help us to reach Christ her Son
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.