Of the five aspects of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (see the file on this subject), only two demand a little effort. Moreover, all Catholics should have the desire to put them into practise. Namely : the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and wearing the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. We’ve already discussed in detail the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (see in particular newsletters 5, 13, 16, 19). Today, we’ll examine wearing the scapular.
The request to wear the scapular does not figure among the oral demands of Our Lady. However, She made it clear on the 13th of October, during Her sixth apparition : at the end of this apparition, the Holy Virgin actually appeared with the features of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as She had announced during Her previous apparition, and She held a scapular in Her hand. Sister Lucia attached a very great importance to this. When she was asked what made her think that it concerned Our Lady of Mount Carmel, she replied « Because something was dangling from her hand. »
The word ‘’scapular’’ comes from the Latin ‘’scapulae’’ which means ‘’shoulders’’. The scapular is a long strip of fabric which covers the shoulders, often with a hood attached, and reaches down to the feet, front and back. Most religious wear it over their tunic. The Mount Carmel scapular, which is a reduction of this, is made of two pieces of brown, woven wool, rectangular or square in shape, joined together by two pieces of yarn so as to be worn with one on the chest and the other on the back. Also, on the scapular, there is an image of the Holy Virgin. A pious custom, which is not compulsory.
Sister Lucia insisted on the importance of the scapular several times, particularly, on the 15th of October, 1950, to Father Rafferty :
- Our Lady, Lucia told him, was holding the scapular in Her hands, because she wants us to wear it.
- Father Rafferty remarked that in lots of books about Fatima the authors never mention the scapular when presenting the message of Fatima.
- Oh, they’re so wrong, cried the seer, the scapular is the sign of our consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Father Rafferty wanted to know if the leaders of the Blue Army were right to insist on wearing the scapular ; Sister Lucia replied :
- Yes, this practice is indispensible for fulfilling the requests of Our Lady of Fatima.
- Would you say that the scapular is as indispensible as the rosary ?
- The scapular and the rosary are inseparable.
In fact, the garment indicates the adherence of the person who wears it to the person from whom he has received it, and in return, he receives the protection of that person. Therefore, as in every army, the commitment to serve entails the wearing of a uniform. Likewise, membership of certain corporations leads to the wearing of a particular dress : lawyers, academics … In the same way, the scapular shows the adhesion to Mary on the part of the person who wears it, and on Our Lady’s side, the committment to aid him at every opportunity, especially at the hour of his death.
Wearing the scapular is a very simple act which only takes a small effort, that of having it imposed by a priest, then wearing it constantly. Unfortunately, this practice is often neglected, while the effort it demands is easier than, for example, the daily recitation of the Rosary.
It is an even greater pity that the wearing of the scapular is joined to the grace of final perseverance. In the 13th century, Our Lady, appearing to Saint Simon Stock, confided to him : « That anyone dying in this habit shall be saved ». This promise has been recognised by the Church ever since (see the file on this subject) and is perfectly coherent with the words of Our Lady on the 13th of June 1917 : « To whomever embraces this devotion [the Immaculate Heart of Mary], I promise salvation ; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers placed by Me to adorn His throne. » Numerous graces for the protection of the soul and the body have also been obtained by the scapular, for example, the priest who was shot at point-blank range by a criminal while he celebrated Mass : the bullet was stopped by the simple piece of brown woolen fabric ! (See the file on this subject.)
Apart from being saved from the fires of Hell, and the protection against danger to body and soul, the scapular can provide another grace : freedom from some or all of the pains of purgatory. In fact, as well as wearing the scapular, those who also recite the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary daily, and cultivate the chastity that is suited to their state of life, are promised by Our Lady that She will lead them to Heaven on the Saturday following their death. Hence the expression, Sabbatine Privilege. It is possible to substitute the Rosary for the Little Office. (See the file on this subject.) In this way, whilst preserving ourselves from the pains of purgatory, we can respond to a request particularly dear to Our Lady because she made it at each of her six apparitions in 1917 : the daily recitation of the Rosary.
The scapular should be worn continually, even at night. It can, of course, be taken off whilst showering, without losing the benefit of the promise.
Because of the rapid disintegration of the fabric in hot countries, the Pope Saint Pius X admitted the facility of exchanging the fabric scapular with a medal. This concession has since spread throughout the whole world. However, the Church prefers the cloth scapular because it better represents the garment given by Our Lady to Saint Simon Stock. The concession of the medal is only a dispensation, and the Popes Saint Pius X and Benedict XV who granted it, added that they desired that the faithful continue to wear, if possible, the wool scapular.
It is now possible for any priest to impose the scapular ; it is no longer necessary, as in the past, to have a special authorisation from the Order of Discalced Carmelites. All that needs to be done is to use one of the set blessings prescribed in the Roman Ritual. (See the file on the ceremony of imposition.)
We fervently wish to be of service to Our Lady, and for that, many of us have consecrated ourselves to Her Immaculate Heart. As Sister Lucia says « The scapular is the sign of our consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. »
That’s why it is suitable to cloth ourselves in this habit given by Our Lady. Because it is a visible sign of our will to consecrate ourselves to Her and to do everything through Her and for Her.
In union of prayer in the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Yves de Lassus,
President, Cap Fatima 2017.
News from the Project
Many of you have told us of your difficulties in registering for your consecrations. After some ajustments on the page for registering, it seems that the problem is now resolved. You can therefore register again. The next date is the 25th of March, a special day, because it is the anniversary of the Annunciation as well as of the Crucifixion – a rare conjunction. The next time will be in 2157 ! Therefore, we encourage as many of you as possible to consecrate yourselves, or to renew your consecration, on this exceptional date !