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Get Ready For Total Consecration To Jesus Through Mary!


 

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak will once again be leading Total Consecration To Jesus Through Mary on his nightly radio show

It’s that time of the year again!

Beginning on September 1, 2014, I will once again be leading the 33 day preparation for Total Consecration To Jesus through Mary on my nightly BlogTalkRadio show. This is the fourth consecutive year that I’ve been leading this devotion and I expect it to be our best year ever. Over the past three years, we have helped over 2,000 individuals consecrate their lives in this manner and many lives (including my own) have been completely transformed!

What is Total Consecration? Our friends at the My Consecration apostolate have put together a short video explaining the details:

Interested? Want to find out more? Here’s all you have to do:

STEP 1 – Sign up. (NOTE: If you are already on my email mailing list, you can skip this step)

Enter your email address below and press the “Join Now” button and you’ll be placed on our email mailing list. You’ll then receive an email (from me), asking you to confirm your registration by clicking on a link. Don’t skip this step! You need to do this in order to be placed on the mailing list. I’ll be sending out periodic emails to provide more information and guide you through the process. I WILL NOT share your email address with anyone!

Total Consecration 2014



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STEP 2 – Get your FREE copy of Consecration To Jesus Through Mary.

My dear friends at the My Consecration apostolate are offering a free Total Consecration kit, which includes a copy of the book “Consecration To Jesus Through Mary”. To receive your kit, simply click HERE and register. This will provide you with the materials that you need to participate in Total Consecration. Although we work closely with each other, My Consecration and Following The Truth are 2 separate apostolates. Therefore, you also need to register with them in order to receive your free book. Please note that the offer of a free kit applies only to residents of the US or Canada. While MyConsecration.org provides their materials free of charge, I would encourage you to make a donation to their apostolate if you are able to do so.

STEP 3 – Tune in to the Following The Truth radio program at 8 PM Eastern on September 1)

Although the actual 33 day preparation period begins on Thursday, September 4th, I’ll spend the first three days of that week discussing Total Consecration and providing more information about the process. I’ve led over 2,000 people through Total Consecration over the past 3 years and I’m looking for another big year in 2014. Whether you’re renewing your consecration (like me) or making it for the first time, we’ll walk together over the 33 day preparation period. In addition to my nightly radio show, I’ll be available by email to answer your questions and/or encourage you.

So, get ready and be prepared for your life to change in some BIG ways. Jesus is waiting to get to know you better and Mary is ready to take you by the hand and lead you to Him. Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have.

“The more we honor the Blessed Virgin, the more we honor Jesus Christ, because we honor Mary only that we may the more perfectly honor Jesus, since we go to her only as the way by which we are to find the end we are seeking, which is Jesus.” (St. Louis de Montfort)

Need A Miracle? Try The Saint Andrew Novena!


 

One of my favorite devotions, The Saint Andrew Novena, begins tomorrow (November 30)! It is piously believed that whoever recites this prayer fifteen times a day from the Feast of Saint Andrew (Nov 30) until Christmas will obtain what is asked. Does this mean that God will give you anything, even something that may be harmful to you spiritually? Fortunately, no! However, I have received miraculous favors since I started praying this novena a few years ago and I believe in its power.

Here’s EWTN’s Fr. Joseph Mary speaking about his personal experience with the St. Andrew Novena:

Here is the novena prayer:

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

We’ll be praying this novena every night until Christmas on my Following The Truth radio show. In addition to the spiritual benefits, it’s a GREAT way to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Why not give it a try?

An Hour With Father Donald Calloway


 

On Wednesday, August 28, Fr. Donald Calloway will be visiting the Following The Truth radio show for the entire hour! We’ll chat about his best selling book Under The Mantle (Marian Thoughts From A 21st Century Priest) and get his insight as to where Mary fits into our lives as Catholics. As we get set to begin our 33 day preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, tune in as we explore Marian devotion from someone who knows!

Listen to the show HERE.

Prepare The Way Of The Lord…An Advent Retreat!


 

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Is 40:3)

How are YOU preparing for the coming of the Lord on Christmas Day?

Beginning on Monday, December 3rd I’ll be conducting an Advent Retreat on my nightly Following The Truth radio program. Best of all, you don’t even have to leave your home! Similar to the Wise Men two thousand years ago, we’ll set out on a journey designed to bring us face to face with the newborn Savior. Each night on the show, I’ll read the daily Mass readings and present various meditations designed to prepare you to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th. In addition, I’ll be leading the very popular St. Andrew Novena each night on the show! With all of the craziness of the Christmas season, it’s easy to forget about preparing for the coming of the Lord. During this Year of Faith, why not make a commitment to give Him an hour each night?

As always, there are several ways to listen:

Every Monday-Friday at 8 PM Eastern on BlogTalkRadio

As soon as the show airs, the podcast will then be available in the BlogTalkRadio On Demand archives (free of charge).

The day after the show airs, the podcast will be available in iTunes (free of charge).

If you’re like me, you have let many Advents pass by without preparing spiritually for the Lord’s birth. We can’t do anything about the past, but we can do something about the present. Hope to “see” you on December 3rd. Let’s make this our best Advent ever!

More On The Brown Scapular…

 

On today’s episode of the Following The Truth radio show, I discussed the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. As promised, here is some additional information:

The history of the brown scapular and requirements for wearing it (from EWTN).

Here are the 2 books I referred to:

The Scapular of Mount Carmel (comes with a scapular).

Mary In Her Scapular Promise (originally published in 1940)

Here is the Doctrinal Statement from the Congregation of Divine Worship:

The Doctrinal Statement on the Brown Scapular (11/29/96)

Choose from an assortment of scapulars offered for purchase by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods:

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Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular

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Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular with Miracul

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular with Miraculous Medal

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Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular

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Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular with St Bene

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Brown Scapular with St Benedict Medal and Crucifix

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St. Pio Brown Scapular

Pio Brown Scapular

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Scapular Sterling Round Medal

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Miraculous Scapular Sterling Silver Medal

Miraculous Scapular Sterling Silver Medal

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Scapular Medal, Sterling Silver

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Sterling Scapular Medals

Sterling Scapular Medals

10 Great Tips To Help You PRAY (not just SAY) The Rosary!

 

I’ve always found praying the Rosary to be difficult. Although I love the Blessed Mother and understand the importance of the devotion, it just doesn’t come easy to me. In reality, I have no problem SAYING the prayers, the problem arises in transforming the words into a heartfelt prayer. Furthermore, many books tell us how to SAY to Rosary, with only a few instructing us how we should PRAY it. In an attempt to discover the “secret” of this beloved prayer, I’ve done a lot of research and uncovered 10 great (I can say that in all humility because they’re not mine!) tips to help you PRAY (not just SAY) the Rosary!

1. Less Is More – In his book, The Rosary of Our Lady, Msgr. Romano Guardini offers the following advice:

“It is not necessary to ramble through the whole Rosary; it is better to say only one or two decades, and to say them right.”

Talk about removing the pressure! I’ve always struggled to make sure I complete the entire Rosary, even if it meant that I wasn’t paying attention. Now I realize that quality is more important than quantity.

2. You Are Not Alone – A great proponent of Marian devotion, St. Louis de Montfort urges us to be aware of our company while praying the rosary. In The Secret of the Rosary, Montfort reminds us that, when we pray the Rosary, we should put ourselves in God’s presence and imagine that He (along with the Blessed Mother) is watching us and that our guardian angel is standing to our right. If we say the prayers well, our angel will use them to make crowns for Jesus and Mary. Thinking about this before beginning to pray helps us to realize that we are doing A LOT more than just repeating pious words!

3. Watch What You Say – St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, contributes a simple, but often overlooked suggestion. He encourages us to pronounce each Our Father and Hail Mary clearly and without rushing. In doing so, we will better express our love for Mary and Jesus. When praying the Rosary, it’s easy to fall into the trap of mumbling and our rushing through the prayers. Remembering that the Our Father was handed down to us from Jesus and that most of the Hail Mary is taken directly from Scripture should help us to recall that the words DO mean something!

4. Been There, Done That – When we look at Mary’s life, we sometimes overlook her many struggles. Like us, Mary was forced to endure suffering and difficulties, often without a lot of explanation. Being the Mother of God didn’t make her all knowing. The Bible tells us that Mary experienced confusion and had to seek understanding through prayer. In her book, The Splendor of the Rosary, Maisie Ward (Catholic author, publisher and wife of noted apologist Frank Sheed) stated:

“In the Rosary we rejoice, sorrow and triumph with Our Lady as she walks the same path we have to walk. But now she has reached the end.”

When we pray the Rosary, we should remember that Mary understands our problems and confusion. By meditating on the events in her life and the life of her Son, we can obtain help for our daily struggles from someone who is now in a place where we’d like to someday be!

5. Listen To The Word – In his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (On The Most Holy Rosary), Blessed Pope John Paul II recommends that we supplement our Rosary meditations with Bible reading. After announcing the individual mystery, the late Holy Father encourages us to read an appropriate Bible passage. While this is not always possible (if we are praying while walking or driving, for instance), we can still mentally recall the details of an appropriate Bible story. This underscores the importance of becoming familiar with Sacred Scripture.

6. Savor The Repetition – Sometimes it feels as if praying the Rosary is just “repeating a bunch of words”! In fact, one of the criticisms of the Rosary is that it is nothing more than “vain repetition”. In his book, The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen addresses those who consider the rosary to be monotonous. Using the analogy of a husband telling his wife “I love you” or a mother proclaiming “you’re a good boy” to her child, Sheen stresses that the words mean something different at each point in time that they are repeated. In the same way, each time we pray the Rosary, we are saying “I love you” to God, the Trinity, to Jesus and to Mary. With each successive bead (or decade) the meaning shifts as we contemplate a new aspect of Jesus or Mary’s love.

7. Do Whatever He Tells You – Praying the Rosary, no matter how devoutly, is never a substitute for following the commands of Jesus and His Church. The Rosary should spur us on to live the mysteries in our daily life. In his book, The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Our Lady, St. Francis de Sales had this to say:

“The worldly-minded imagine that devotion to Our Lady usually consists in carrying a rosary in their cincture. It seems to them that it is enough to pray it a number of times without doing anything else. In this they are greatly mistaken. For our dear Mistress wants us to do what her Son commands us (John 2:5) and considers as done to herself the honor we give to her Son by keeping His commandments.”

8. Think – In the preface of Father Peyton’s Rosary Prayer Book: The Family That Prays Together Stays Together, Fr. Patrick Peyton reminds us that the Rosary is more than a series of prayers to be recited. Rather, it is “a series of thoughts to be dwelt on, to be turned over in the mind, to be applied in daily life.” While we are saying the words of the prayers, we should be meditating upon the mysteries. That was a hard concept for me to understand, but it’s the key to unleashing the power of the Rosary.

9. Grow In Virtue
– Mother Angelica loves the Rosary. In her book, The Prayers and Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica, she discusses how to use the Rosary to grow in virtue:

“If you’re not making progress in one virtue, say your Rosary and meditate on that virtue as Our Lord practiced it. I cannot get over my faults and weaknesses if I don’t substitute those faults and weaknesses for something of God. This is precisely why the life of Jesus and the reading of Scripture and the rosary never seem to change us – why we remain the same: Because to change you need to admire someone other than yourself.”

10. Ask Mary For Help – This one’s so obvious that it’s easy to overlook! This simple, but powerful suggestion comes from a list (Tips On Praying The Rosary More Devoutly) put together by The Association of the Miraculous Medal in Perryville, MO. Before beginning the Rosary, we should ask Our Blessed Mother to help us pray devoutly.

Although the Rosary follows a simple pattern, it can be a very challenging prayer to master. Rest assured that many of the Saints struggled with it too. If you find it difficult to pray the Rosary, try out these tips and see what happens. It might take a little time, but eventually your persistence will pay off. The next time you pick up your rosary beads, imagine that you’re holding Mary’s hand and taking a trip to visit Jesus. For when we pray the Rosary, that’s exactly what happens!

“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.” (Pope Saint Pius X)

The Seven Sorrows Of Mary

 

On today’s episode of Following The Truth, I discussed the Seven Sorrows of Mary:

1. The Prophecy of Simeon
2. The Flight into Egypt .
3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple
4. Mary meets Jesus Carrying the Cross
5. The Crucifixion
6. Mary Receives the Dead Body of Her Son
7. The Burial of Her Son and Closing of the Tomb.

Here is a link to the book that I mentioned:

Devotion To The Sorrowful Mother (TAN Books)

Why Should I Wear A Scapular?

Yesterday, in honor of the memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, I blogged about the importance of wearing a scapular.  Rightfully so, several readers asked the question “Why?” or asked for for details about this often misunderstood devotion. 

My simple answer to the question of “Why?” is that by wearing the scapular we are placing our lives under the protection of the Blessed Mother, as we place our faith in her promise made to St. Simon Stock:

“This is a privilege for you and the order: whoever dies wearing this Scapular will be saved.”

Of course, the scapular isn’t magic and Our Lady’s promise shouldn’t be taken as an excuse to live an immoral life because you have a “get out of jail free” card.  Wearing the scapular represents a TRUE devotion to Mary, which implies living a good, moral life. 

At the end of this post, I’ll include links to a few books.  However, I do want to make one point clear.  Although I think these books are very good for learning about the brown scapular, 2 of them are reprints of manuscripts originally published in the 1930’s and 1940’s and may contain some out of date information, especially about indulgences.  That being said, I would still recommend them due to the pious information about the devotion.  One of them (Mary In Her Scapular Promise) even has a preface by (then) Msgr. Fulton Sheen!

For those who want current (and very detailed) information about the brown scapular, here is the Doctrinal Statement regarding the devotion:

The Doctrinal Statement on the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

 The following is the approved English text of the doctrinal section of the “Rite of Blessing of and Enrollment in the Scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel” as issued and confirmed by the Congregation for Diving Worship and for the Disciple of the Sacraments, November 29, 1996, Prot. 2243/96/L.

I.  HISTORICAL PROFILE

1.  Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is bound to the history and spiritual values of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular.  Thus, whoever receives the scapular becomes a member of the order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life.

A Marian Plan for Evangelical Life

2.  The Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin was born on Mount Carmel, in the Holy Land, in the twelfth century.  A group of hermits who came from the west settled there to live after the example of Christ in his land.  At their request, the Patriarch Albert gave them a rule of life that demanded of them, among other things, to build an oratory among their cells, where they could gather for the celebration of the Eucharist.1   They dedicated the oratory to Mary, and thus they were meant to bind themselves to her in a special way, so that they were identified, at first by the people, and later officially, as the “Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel”.

 Thus, the matter in which the Carmelites follow the gospel takes on a deeply Marian character.  Mary:

   magnifies the Lord and exults in the wonders of his merciful love (cf. Lk 1:49);

   listens to and ponders in her heat all the things concerning Jesus (cf. Lk 2:19, 51);

   identifies herself with her people, especially those in need, the spirituality and materially poor, the marginalized (cf. Lk 1:52-53ff, Jn 2:3); and

  is constant in prayer, open to the fire of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14; 2:1-4) who is the strength of all apostolic gifts.

 In the Fraternity of Carmel

3.  From of old, they were faithful who were attracted by this ideal way of life and its characteristics and asked to be able to share in it.  Their circumstances as family people who lived in the world were no obstacle to their sharing in the fraternity of Carmel.

The visible sign of reception to this fraternity was the habit (or part of the habit) of the order.  At first the special sign was the mantle, but soon after it became the scapular.

 The scapular of Carmel, or the habit (also called by other names in different places), is one of the devotions most loved by the people of God.  The great diffusion of the scapular seems to have been due to the tradition of a vision of Our Lady, documented at least since the end of the fourteenth century.

 4.  During one of its difficult times, the order asked to get full recognition an stability within the Church.  Mary, Patroness of Carmel, seemed to have answered this plea with a vision to the English Carmelite, St. Simon Stock.  She held in her hand the scapular and assured the holy prior general, saying:

“This is a privilege for you and the order: whoever dies wearing this Scapular will be saved.”Later it was widely believed that the Virgin would deliver from Purgatory, on the first Saturday after death, the Carmelites and people associated with them who observed chastity according to their state, recited prayers, and wore the habit of Carmel.  This is the so-called Sabbatine Privilege.3

The faithful then quickly understood that to wear the habit meant to enter into the fraternity of the order and of Mary.  By responding to the love of the Virgin, they lived secure under her protection in all the dangers of life and, at the hour of death, confident that even after death she would intervene on their behalf, she who “with her maternal love takes care of the brothers of her Son…until they are led to the blessed land.”4

More recently, thanks to a deeper understanding of our tradition and the fruit of research and of the process of renewal in the whole Church, the approach to popular devotions and, therefore, to the scapular, has changed.5

 5.  As a result of the history and evolution of devotion to Mary through the scapular, there are today several categories of devotees according to the degree of identification with and affiliation to the family of Carmel.  These may be listed as follows:

 a)  The religious men and women.

b)  The Secular Order (also called Third Order).

c)  Those who belong to the Confraternity of the Scapular.

d)  All those who receive the scapular and live according to its spirituality in various degrees of association with the order.

e)  Those who receive the scapular and live according to its spirituality, but have no formal association with the order.6

f)  All who are committed to put into practice the Marian characteristic of Carmelite spirituality wholly and fervently, but in forms which correspond to the nature of the bond that ties them to the family of Mary.7

II.  Nature and Character

6.  “The scapular is essentially a habit.  Whoever receives it, is, by virtue of such reception, associated more or less intimately with the Order of Carmel.”8  The scapular or habit is, in fact, a habit in miniature of the order that, in order live “in allegiance to Jesus Christ,”9 has chosen the spiritual experience of familiarity10with Mary, sister, mother, and model.

7.  Association with the Carmelite family and familiarity with Mary take on a character that is fundamentally communitarian and ecclesial, because Mary “help all her children – wherever and whenever – to find in Christ the way to the house of the Father.”11  Thus the scapular is the small “sign” of the great ideal of Carmel: intimacy with God and friendship among the disciples.

Biblical Symbolism

8.  In the Old Testament, a habit – especially a mantle – was the symbol of divine benefits, of protection from on high, of power transmitted to one of God’s messengers.

The special coat of Joseph was symbol of predilection (cf. GN 37:3); the gift of Jonathan’s mantle to David was a symbol of friendship (1 Sam 18:4).  In Isaiah w read: “I exult for joy in Yahweh, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity” (Is 61:10).  When the prophet Elijah was taken up to heaven, his mantle fell on his disciple Elisha, thus passing on to him the spirit of the master (cf. 2 Kings 2:14ff).

9.  In the New Testament, even the hem of the cloak of Jesus, if touched with faith, communicated his healing power (cf. Mk 5:25ff).  St. Paul more than once talks of life in Christ in terms of putting on Christ (Rm 13:14; Ga 3>27); to put on the same attitude as Jesus, that is, the life of filial grace of the Christian, is described by the image of clothes.  the religious habit, of which the scapular is a part and symbol, signifies, in a special way, this following of Jesus.

In the Trinity with Christ

 10.  Mary, the blessed among women, is the masterpiece of the Most Blessed Trinity who united her to Itself, bringing the feminine to its greatest possible realization in her, like an icon of the Trinity’s tenderness, and Its saving will.12  Mary is the Lady in whom “all is related to Christ and all depends on him; foreshadowing the Son, God the Father, from all eternity, chose her to be the all holy Mother and adorned her with gifts of the Spirit, granted to no one else.”13  Our Lady is for the whole Church the model of that “praise of the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity” to which we are all called to be.

11.  The scapular is a symbol of filial and grateful recognition of the mission that the Most Blessed Trinity willed to confide to Mary in the history of salvation, “mystery of mercy” (1 Tim 3:6).  These truly significant words were placed on the lips of Mary: “I bring you a scapular as a sign of my blessing and my love and, at the same time, as a sign of the mystery, which will be accomplished, in you.  I come to fully ‘clothe you in Jesus Christ’ (Gal 3:27) so that you may be ‘rooted in him’ (Col 2:7), ‘the royal way’, in the depths of the abyss, with the Father and the Spirit of love.”14

Ecclesial Journey-Pilgrimage

12.  Through space and time, and especially through the history of human kind, Mary is present as “she who has believed” (cf. Lk 1:45), as she who goes forward on the pilgrimage of faith, partaking in the mystery of Christ above all other creatures.15

13.  The Church on her faith pilgrimage finds its best model in Our Lady.  The example of the Blessed Virgin leads the faithful to conform themselves to the Son.  But it also leads them to celebrate the mysteries of Christ with the profound attitude that the Virgin had when she was by her Son at his birth and at the Epiphany, at his death and resurrection.  That is, it urges them to guard zealously the Word of God to meditate on it lovingly; to praise God with exultation and to thank him joyfully; to serve God and neighbor faithfully and to offer generously for them even life itsel, to pray to the Lord perseveringly and to implore confidently; to be merciful and humble; to “wait vigilantly for the coming of the Lord.”16

 14.  Carmel has followed this way, suggesting to its members to become like Mary in order that, following her example, they may dwell in the divine intimacy.  The three phases of this ascent of Mount Carmel are: imitation, union, and likeness to Mary.17

III. Commitment to a Way of Life

15.  The following of Chris and of Mary, as understood and lived in the charism of the Order, becomes the reality after which the faithful in the Carmelite family strive.  They can rely on the help and support of all the brothers and sisters who share in the same ideal.  The members of the Carmelite family live their commitment in various ways: in the “desert”, in fraternal life, in the apostolic life, on the streets of the world, working with Mary for the Kingdom of Christ.

16.  The institutional forms, erected and acknowledge by the Order, help to emphasize the communal character of the family of htose who, led bye the Spirit, want to dedicate their whole life in this world – in union with Mary – to the glory of God.

Thus, becoming part of the fraternity of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and receiving the scapular as a sign of such membership, is for the faithful an instrument of Christian life with special characteristics:

 a)  To live as “brothers” or “sisters” of Mary in communion with Carmel, to enter more deeply into its spirit, to live its ideals and its history, praying and cooperating with it in order that, faithful to its charism and their vocation, they may reflect, in the world, Mary who brings Jesus to all.

b)  To give to Mary ever more space in their life, seeking to live in their circumstances their fidelity to Christ in the spirit of Mary:

– in the faith that gazes at and prays to God, welcomes and dialogues with him;

– in the hope that transforms itself into being at the service of All, which is God; and

– in the charity that abandons itself to the will of the Lord in order to be a true gift to the brothers and sisters, especially the smallest and most humble.

c)  To imitate the “praying Virgin” who “kept the word of God in her heart” (cf. Lk 2:19,51), setting aside some time to meet God in prayer, meditating on the mysteries of salvation, taking part in faith in the liturgy of the Church, especially the Eucharist, reciting every day some liturgical hour or some psalms or the holy rosary.  To see to it that living in the presence of the living God, every aspect of life becomes prayer and that prayer becomes life, at the same time remembering the obligations and work of their state of life.

d)  To share in the Paschal Mystery of Christ by means of voluntary penances, lived in the spirit of Carmel, looking at Mary, whose soul was pierced by a sword (cf. Lk 2:35), who “sustained her union with her Son faithfully even to the cross, where she stood (cf. Jn 19:25) suffering deeply with her Firstborn and uniting herself to his sacrifice.”18

e)  To show the love of God.  The “Most Pure Virgin” allows the love of God to shine through all her being without any resistance or opacity, a love which clothes her personally and opens her to the whole of humanity.  Thus, she charms and attracts the devout, who keep their heart and senses, their body and soul, open to the love of God, whom they seek and desire in all things and above all things.  The faithful open themselves to receive all the gifts of holiness that God himself places in human relationships and in the love of neighbor.  Thus love involves the human body as the “dwelling place” of God (cf. 1 Col 3:16-17), and through which they communicate with others.  It is the vehicle for the expression of love.

f)  To engage in the works of evangelization.  Those who wear the scapular identify themselves with the mission of Carmel to be in the world a prophetic sign of union with God, to work for the coming of the Kingdom of God through visible signs of sharing, reconciliation, justice, looking after the sick, and listening to the cries of the poor.

g)  As much as possible, to foster fraternal communion among the members of the fraternity by means of assemblies and reunions, which nourish and support these aims.

 17.  The scapular is the sign of the love of Mary, icon of the goodness and mercy of the Most Blessed Trinity.  This love is the fruit of the grace of God poured into the hearts of the faithful who, in turn, commit themselves to it.

18.  Appendix: Practical Norms for the Scapular Confraternity

 1) The scapular confraternity of Carmel is an association of the faithful who strive for the perfection of charity in the world in the spirit of the Carmelite Order, participate in the life of the Order and its spiritual benefits in an intimate communion of thought, ideals, and works together with Mary.

2)  The supreme moderator of the Carmelite Order is the competent authority for the canonically established of a confraternity.  For churches belonging to the Order, the consent given by he ordinary for the canonical establishment of the religious house is also valid for the canonical establishment of the confraternity.  However, for the canonical establishment of the confraternity19 in other churches or places, the written consent of the ordinary is required.20

3)  A person given authority to act in the name of the Order may receive people into the confraternity of the scapular.

4)  Reception into the confraternity takes place according to the proper rite approved by the Holy See by means of enrollment in the scapular.  The scapular consists of two brown or dark pieces of material joined together by two ribbons or pieces of string.  For receptions, the name of the faithful and the date must be registered in a book kept for the purpose.  These conditions, however, may be waived.

5)  After the reception of the scapular, the faithful may substitute it with a medal showing on one side the Sacred Heart of Jesus and on the other Our Lady.  Both scapular and medal may be replaced without having to be blessed again.

 6)  The members of the confraternity must at all times devoutly wear the scapular or the medal as a visible sign of their belonging to Mary in the brotherhood of Carmel.

7)  Members are bound to set aside regularly time to be with God in prayer, frequent participation in the Eucharist, daily recitation of one of the hours of the liturgy or of some psalms or the rosary or other equivalent prayers.

 8)  If possible, they will meet periodically to build up the sense of fraternity, to study the spirit of Carmel, to care for brothers and sisters in need, all in union with Mary.

9)  They may gain plenary indulgences, provided they fulfill the usual conditions,21on the day they join the confraternity and on the following feasts:  the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (July 16), St Elijah, prophet (July 20), St Simon Stock (May 16), St Therese of the Child Jesus (October 1), St Teresa of Jesus (October 15), All Carmelite Saints (November 14), and St John of the Cross (December 14).22

10)  The solemn feast of the confraternity is that of the Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel July 16.  Members will celebrate this feast with great love and gratitude towards Mary, renewing their commitment of service to her, fidelity to Jesus Christ and the Church, and commending the whole Carmelite family to the maternal heart of the Virgin.

 Notes

1. Rule, 10.

2. B. Xiberta, De visione S. Simonis Stock oma. 1950. 3 11.

3. L. Saggi, La Bolla Sabatina, ambiente, testo, tempo. Roma. 1967.

4. Lumen Gentium, 62.

5. Lumen Gentium, 67.

6. See also the document,Un segno di fede e di impegno cristiano. Lo Scapolare del Carmine(Dec. 1994), which contains a brief catechesis.

7. However, the possibility is not excluded for those who see in it a sign of hope and protection of Mary for a Christian life and eternal salvation.  Henricus M. Esteve, De Valore Spirituali Devotionis Sacri Scapularis. Roma. 1953. 229.  He Quotes Benedict XIV.

8. Pius XII, Notre Premier Souhait, Aug. 6, 1950.  Discorsi e radiomessaggi 12 (1951), 168; of also Pius XII, the letter, Neminem profecto Libet.

9. Rule, prologue.

10. Consuetudo Vitae.

11. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 47.  John Paul II spoke of the scapular in a 1985 letter to the Cardinal Legate to the Mariological and Marian Congress of Santo Domingo.

12. A. Bostius, De Patronatu…,” n.1542; cf. n. 1574.

13. Marialis Cultus, 51

14. Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, letter to Mother Germana, September 24, 1906.

15. Cf Lumen Gentium, 65; Redemptoris Mater, 25.

16. Introduction to the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

17. Cf Blessed Titus Brandsma, Historical notes on Carmelite mysticism: The Beauty of Carmel.  The tertiary Maria Petijt reached the heights of mystical experience with Mary.

18. Lumen Gentium, 58.

19. Cannon 312, par. 2.

20. Ibid.

21. Confession, communion, prayers according to the intentions of the Pope, and a renewal of the promise to keep the pledges of the Confraternity.

22. Decrees of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary 144/68/R of June 25, 1968, and 11533/68/R of Sept. 17, 1968.

As promised, here are links to some books about the brown scapular.  All are relatively inexpensive and still in print:

Scapular Facts by Albert Dolan, O. Carm

Mary In Her Scapular Promise by John Mathias Haffert

The Scapular of Mount Carmel by a Monk of St. Joseph Abbey

Garment of Grace by The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Hope this helps.  Let me know if you have questions/comments.

What Can Brown Do For You?

While most of you will think of the United Parcel Service when you hear this expression, there’s another kind of “brown” that’s a lot more powerful than UPS…

The Brown Scapular!

Today, the Church celebrates Our Lady’s appearance to Saint Simon Stock on July 16, 1251.  In this apparition, Our Lady of Mount Carmel promised a special blessing for those who wear her brown scapular.  For many years I thought that the use of this sacramental was nothing more than a superstition.  One day, however, I finally decided to listen to the Church’s wisdom and started wearing the scapular and asking for Mary’s protection.  As a result, I’ve seen an outpouring of grace that has brought me closer to Our Lady and to Our Lord.  If you don’t believe me, listen to the words of the late Holy Father Pius IX:

“This most extraordinary gift of the scapular – from the Mother of God to Saint Simon Stock – brings its great usefulness not only to the Carmelite Family of Mary but also to the rest of the faithful who wish, affiliated to that Family, to follow Mary with a very special devotion.” (Blessed Pope Pius IX)

What can (the)  brown (scapular) do for you?  Keep you close to Christ, protect you from sin and ensure that Our Lady will be with you at the hour of your death.

Sounds like a good deal to me!

How Much Do I Love Jesus?

“Every time I hear anyone speak of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or of the Blessed Sacrament I feel an indescribable joy. It is as if a wave of precious memories, sweet affections and joyful hopes swept over my poor person, making me tremble with happiness and filling my soul with tenderness. These are loving appeals from Jesus who wants me wholeheartedly there, at the source of all goodness, his Sacred Heart, throbbing mysteriously behind the Eucharistic veils… I love to repeat today ‘Sweet Heart of my Jesus, make me love You more and more.'” (Blessed Pope John XXIII, Journal of a Soul)

I ran across the above quote from the autobiography of Blessed Pope John XXIII, and I couldn’t help but ask myself a question…

“Do I feel the same way?”

While my first answer was a resounding “Yes!”, I started to think of all those occasions when I’ve daydreamed while at Mass, of the all the times I passed up stopping in at the adoration chapel to pay a visit to Jesus who gave up His life for my salvation, of those times when I sinned and caused disappointment and sadness to be felt in Our Lord’s Sacred Heart.

While I do love Jesus and try to visit and receive Him frequently, I still think that I have some work to do.  I’m going to take the late Holy Father’s recommendation and make that last line my frequent prayer. 

Sweet Heart of my Jesus, make me love You more and more.