The Mother Church celebrates on this day feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel every year.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the patroness of the Carmelite Order. For the Carmelites, this feast
is of great importance. The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was instituted in thankfulness to
Mother Mary around the year 1386. She had bestowed many favours and blessings on the
Carmelites, whom she had helped survive through many storms.
The Carmelites had been greatly threatened during an ecumenical council held in 1274. Some of
the Council Fathers wanted to suppress the Order of Our Lady because there were already too
many religious orders, and there was no need for so many. The Carmelites were fortunately not
suppressed, but were asked to give some reasons for their existence. This feast was gradually
adopted throughout the Order as an occasion of thanksgiving for the countless blessings which our
Lady had bestowed on the Carmelite family. This is the day of thanksgiving rather than mere
The devotion attached to this feast is the devotion to the Brown Scapular. When we speak of Our
Lady of Mount Carmel, we cannot leave out the Scapular. It has a rich Biblical meaning attached
to clothing. A great deal is said in the Bible about clothing and the spiritual symbolism of
Clothing. This latter can be summarized in the words of Henry Cardinal Vaughan in a Pastoral
“The Holy Scriptures themselves show us that from the earliest times the bestowal of a garment
has been used as an indication of love and favour. The Patriarch Jacob gave his favourite son
Joseph, a many-coloured tunic as a sign of special love. Jonathan stripped himself of the coat with
which he was clothed and gave it to David because he loved him as his soul. Elias ascending to
heaven bestowed his cloak upon Eliseus as a sign of the descent upon him of his own prophetic
We learn of Mary in the New Testament, wrapping Her Son in swaddling clothes, and of Paul
asking the believers ‘to put on Christ.’ Even in one of the parables using a wedding garment,
which seems to refer to the garment of salvation.
We need signs and symbols to help us to understand what is happening at present, or what
happened before, or to give us an awareness of who we are as individuals and as groups. In
Baptism we are given a new white robe to symbolize the new life we are beginning in Christ. To
be clothed with the Scapular would imply our desire and endeavour to practice the virtues and so
adorn ourselves (like a bride) with the virtues of Mary. The wearing of the Brown Scapular has
become popular among the Catholic faithful.
The Church’s official position regarding the Brown Scapular is that it is a garment that we wear as
both a sign of our belonging to Mary and pledge of her maternal protection in this life and the
It is also a sign of three entwined elements: a) belonging to the Carmelite ‘family, b) consecration
to and trust in Mary, and c) an incentive to imitate Our Lady’s virtues, especially her humility,
chastity, and prayerfulness. The Church has made no official pronouncements regarding St.
Simon Stock’s vision, or any other particular rules and rewards attached to wearing the Scapular.
We wear this scapular as a sign of devotion to Mary, under her title of Our Lady of Mount
Carmel. It is a sign approved by the Church and accepted by the Carmelite Order as an external
sign of love for Mary, of the trust her children have in her, and of commitment to live like her.
However, it should not be used as a magical charm. It is not an automatic guarantee of salvation.
An excuse for not living up to the demands of the Christian life. It stands for the decision to
follow Jesus like Mary, to be open to God and to his will. It is to discover God present in all that
happens around us.
We have many popular devotions in the church. There is nothing wrong in having devotions to
any saints or Mother Mary. We need to understand the real meaning of these devotions. Every
devotion should lead us to Jesus. The devotion which we have should help us to imbibe the virtues
of the saint and thus help us to strengthen our relationship with Jesus.
Exodus 11: 10 – 12. 14
Matthew 12: 1 – 8
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is talking with his disciples as they were walking through a field of grain
on the Sabbath. The disciples were hungry, and without thinking, they began to pick and then eat
the grain. There were several Pharisees who saw the disciples do this. They immediately
approached Jesus and told him that his disciples’ action was unlawful. After all, it was the
Sabbath! No work was to be done on the Sabbath. (Talk about the “letter of the law!”) In addition,
they were eating grain that they did not have the right to eat!
Jesus replied to their question by using the example of David from the Old Testament. After all,
when David and his companions were hungry, they brazenly went into the house of God and ate
the bread offering that only the priests were allowed to eat. Jesus asked them: “Did they consider
David’s act unlawful?” At times, even some of the priests of the temple had violated the Sabbath!
Did they consider these priests innocent? Jesus then says to them: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
In the time of Jesus, farmers were encouraged to leave some wheat on the edge of the field for the
poor to eat. Thus, Jesus and the disciples were not stealing grain from the farmers. Mercy is a
great gift. It is a gift when we receive mercy from Jesus but also when we are gifted with mercy
from another person. Do you remember a time in your life when someone was merciful or
compassionate with you? They may have been kind and understanding even when you did not
Jesus always encourages us to do what is loving and sensible. Yes, law is important. However, if
we are not careful, we may make the law our god. And this is not the God that Jesus wants us to
worship! True, we do need laws. However, the “law of love” always reigns supreme! Today, may
we let the “law of love” reign in our lives!
God bless. Have a wonderful day.