July 16th is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel where the faithful have their Brown Scapulars blessed, and they are enrolled into the Order of Mount Carmel. The feast originated when Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251 and said, “Receive my beloved son, the scapular of thy Order. It is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. Whosoever dies wearing the scapular shall not suffer eternal fire”.
The scapular promise brings to mind the story in the bible where Rebecca intercedes for her son, Jacob. Isaac the father of Esau and Jacob is blind and dying so he decides to bless the first born, Esau. (Gen. 27) Esau, however, had already sold his birth right (blessing), to Jacob when he was hungry, plus he has no interest in keeping God’s covenant.
Like all good mothers, Rebecca intercedes and instructs Jacob, “My son, follow my counsel…go thy way to the flock, bring me two kids of the best, that I may make of them meat for thy father.” (Gen.27:8) Is this not a pre-figuration or foreshadowing of Mary’s intercession, “Do whatever he tells you,” (Jn. 2:5) for us who are not, “the first born of all creation,” (Col.1:15) but still want their Heavenly Father’s blessing?
Moreover, Rebecca gives Jacob what he needs to delight his father, “She gave him the savory meat, and delivered him bread that she had baked.” (Gen: 27:17) Is this not like Mary who directs our hearts to bring what is most important to the Heavenly Father’s Banquet – the Mass? For example… the Eucharistic fast… regular confession… modest dress… reconciliation with others before we approach the altar.
When Jacob worries about being discovered, Rebecca says, “Only hear thou my voice, and go.” (Gen. 27:13) This is what all good mothers do for their children not only telling them what to bring but even how to dress, “She put on him very good garments of Esau, which she had at home with her: And the little skins of the kids she put about his hands, and covered the bare of his neck.” (Gen. 27:15-16) Is this not what Mary does for us with the Brown Scapular that we may look and feel like, “the first born,” (Col.1:15) Jesus Christ when she wraps Him in “swaddling clothes” (Lk.2:7) and makes Him a “seamless garment” (Jn.19:23)?
St. Louis De Montfort explains in True Devotion to Mary:
“She bestows a new perfume and a NEW GRACE upon their garments and adornments in communicating to them her own garments, that is, her merits and virtues, which she bequeathed to them…thus all her servants…are doubly clad in the garments of her Son (Prov.31:21)…to obtain the blessing of our heavenly Father.”
When Isaac wants to make sure it really is his son Esau, he asks him to come close that he may smell him, “And immediately as he smelled the fragrant smell of his garments, blessing him, he said: ‘Behold the smell of my son is as the smell of a plentiful field.'” Is this not like Mary who even though our wounds give off smell, she perfumes our garments with her fragrance that we may smell like “the first born” (Rom. 8:29), in order to approach the sacraments adorned with her virtues and perfumed with her loveliness?
St. Louis De Montfort illustrates in True Devotion to Mary:
This odor of the full field which charms the heart of the Father is nothing else than the odor of the virtues and merits of Mary, who is a field full of grace where God the Father has sown His only Son, as a grain of the wheat of the elect. Oh, how welcome to Jesus Christ, the Father of the world to come, is a child perfumed with the good odor of Mary! (Is.9:6). Oh, how promptly and how perfectly is such a child united to the Lord!”
Finally, in being invested with the Brown Scapular we receive Mary’s promise that she will always guide, protect, and watch over us in our everyday life as she did with “the first born” (Heb. 1:6). Furthermore, with the Brown Scapular, Mary promises to pray, intercede, and clothe us for the Heavenly Father’s house that we may finally receive the blessing of “the first born” (Rev. 1:5).
Blessing and Investiture of the Brown Scapular
Noon mass on Monday, July 16,2018 Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
St Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Austin