A Theological Reflection on the Brown Scapular
The Fatima Center wishes you a grace-filled feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel!
Editor’s Note: In honor of Our Lady’s feast day, and in response to high demand, The Fatima Center has reprinted an updated edition of our extremely popular booklet, Our Lady’s Garment: The Brown Scapular. This revised edition is being mailed out to many of our supporters this month. If you would like a copy of this booklet or a Brown Scapular, please contact us. What follows below is a small excerpt taken from the updated booklet.
On October 13, 1917, during the great Miracle of the Sun, Lucia dos Santos was granted visions of the Child Jesus, Our Lady, and Saint Joseph. In the final vision, Our Lady appeared vested as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. She held out the Brown Scapular, offering Her Scapular to the world.
The Brown Scapular is not a ‘magical charm,’ nor is it in and of itself an automatic guarantee of salvation. Rather, the Scapular is a powerful sign that one belongs to the Blessed Virgin Mary. By wearing the Scapular, we place ourselves under Her mantle. She offers Her mantle to us, but we have to place ourselves under it! And, ultimately, that mantle is union with Christ! She draws us to Christ and brings Christ to us!
Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
On October 15, 1950, Sister Lucia attested to Fr. Howard Rafferty, a specially deputed representative of the Father General of the Carmelite Order, “Our Lady held the Scapular in Her hands because She wants us all to wear it.” On another occasion, Sister Lucia also said: “Our Lady wants everyone to wear the Brown Scapular. It is the sign of consecration to Her Immaculate Heart.” Pope Pius XII also referred to the Scapular as “the sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
Thus, wearing the Brown Scapular is a most excellent way of living and daily renewing your consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is a sign that one has decided to follow Jesus after the example of the Virgin Mary, for She always takes us to Her Son!
And one draws near to Our Lady through the use of Her Brown Scapular — it is as if we are protected by Her own ‘Garment of Grace’!
Our Lord and His Mother
There exists an extremely close and unbreakable bond between Jesus Christ and His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Saint Peter Julian Eymard (†1868) teaches: “We must never separate Jesus from Mary: we can go to Him only through Her… Without Mary, we shall never find Jesus.”
Now this unfathomable bond was decreed by God from all eternity. No one can call this bond into question, for it is willed by God Himself. God, Who is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful, has forged this bond since the beginning.
It is God Who, before time began, decreed the Mystery of the Incarnation; and essential to this Mystery is Mary, the Mother of the Incarnate Word. There is no Incarnation without the most holy Mother of God, and there is no such thing as the salvation of souls — the salvation of any soul — without the cooperation of the same most holy Mother of God.
True Devotion to Mary
The faithful wearing of the Brown Scapular is a sign of one’s complete surrender to the most holy Mother of God. The Blessed Virgin Mary, in turn, will guide you to what is most pleasing to Her Divine Son. She will lead you to appreciate the promises of your Baptism: to reject sin and all that leads to sin, to choose God, to live for God, to believe in God, hope in God, and love God, and to believe the truths of the Catholic Faith.
It is not so much that a piece of brown cloth worn about the neck can save a man from hell; rather, the power of the Brown Scapular is in the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and there are no limits to this power. The Brown Scapular is the honored uniform or badge of those devoted to the Blessed Virgin. She has promised to save from hell by Her intercession anyone who dies wearing this Scapular. And the Queen of Heaven and Earth is able to keep Her promise.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel agrees to be our Mother and we agree to live as Her children! That’s why we dress ourselves as She is dressed!
A Heavenly Garment
In the very act of taking us under Her mantle as a pledge of our salvation, we see Mary giving Herself, opening Her arms out for us.
Authoritative writers and saints speak of the Brown Scapular as “Mary’s garment.” They mean that this ordinary piece of cloth, when assumed by us as the vehicle of Her Promise, can be said to be Her garb, because it has come to us from Her sacred hands and is hallowed by its intimate association with Her. The Scapular, in a profound sense, is a relic of the Queen of Heaven, and it has been hallowed by seven centuries of continuous wonders in every part of the world.
Our Lady has wrought miracles through the Scapular similar to those worked by Our Lord in His public life — e.g., restoring sight to the blind, curing cripples and paralytics, and even bringing the dead back to life. She has also used it to extinguish conflagrations, prevent shipwrecks, deflect bullets, and effect deathbed conversions.
When Elias was taken up from the earth, he let fall his mantle at the feet of Eliseus. Overflowing with gratitude, Eliseus hastened to pick it up; it was a relic of his master, the founder of Mary’s Carmel. And this action seems to have been prophetical of Mary, the true Foundress of Carmel, who was to come later, when Her family needed Her, and let fall Her mantle of salvation.
With Elias’ cloak, Eliseus struck the waters of the Jordan, which again divided to make way for him. Mary’s mantle, the Scapular, has been raised against every kind of destruction: from fire and storm to the attacks of animals, from physical attacks to spiritual attacks and temptation — all have melted away before Our Lady’s Scapular.
The Blessed Virgin Mary gave us the Brown Scapular primarily for our spiritual preservation and salvation. Surely, then, the very reason for which She works such numerous miracles with Her Scapular against our visible enemies, is Her desire to remind us that it is truly a safeguard against our invisible enemies.
A Simple Conclusion of Catholic Faith
Dear Faithful, the Church’s teaching on the Brown Scapular can succinctly be summarized as follows. God chooses to manifest His infinite power and love through the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Brown Scapular in turn manifests the Virgin Mary’s power and love. Mary’s power is omnipotent by grace and Her love is fathomless. It is because of Her love that She made the Scapular Promise, and it is by Her power that She keeps it.
Note: Fr. Michael Rodríguez explained this teaching in “Fatima and the Brown Scapular,” a conference given in Cleveland on May 14, 2017. View the video here.