Faithful reminded: Scapulars aren’t amulets
A Carmelite Brother hands over blessed scapulars to pilgrims who flocked to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on its feast day, July 16, 2017. PHOTO BY MINNIE AGDEPPA
By Minnie Agdeppa
July 18, 2017
A former head of the Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCD) in the Philippines reminded devotees of the brown scapular who flocked to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Broadway, Q.C. for its annual fiesta celebration on Sunday, July 16, that the sacramental is no talisman worn for protection nor is it a guarantee of salvation.
“This is not an amulet,” said Fr. Chito Reyes, OCD in Filipino, to pilgrims who filled the shrine for the imposition of the scapular–a rite usually performed after every Holy Mass during the fiesta.
“If you get shot at, bullets will still hit you,” he reminded those who intend to wear the scapular, “It has no magical powers! The power is in your commitment to follow Jesus like Mary.”
An external sign
In addition, he directed devotees to the Sacrament of Reconciliation instead of relying on the scapular for their salvation.
“If you stole a lot, you sinned a lot, you have to go to Confession because the scapular will not save you. It is Confession that you need to seek, not the scapular,” emphasized the priest.
Reyes then explained the true purpose of wearing the scapular by comparing it to the ring worn by married couples as an external sign that constantly reminds them of their union and of their wedding vows to one another.
“The scapular is like a sign like for married couples – you have a wedding band and when you forget that you are married, you have a ring [to remind you], ‘Oops, I’m already married!'” he explained.
The brown scapular
“When you wear the scapular, you are reminded that you have consecrated your life to follow Jesus like Mary, His Mother. So that is the meaning of the scapular,” he ended before finally proceeding with the rite for the blessing of scapular and enrollment in the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular.
According to legend, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock with the brown scapular, asking him to found the Carmelite Order and giving him the promise that whoever dies wearing the scapular shall not go to hell.
Historical records, on the other hand, show that St. Simon Stock became a prior of the Carmelite Order in 1254, almost a century after the first Carmelites, former crusaders who decided to become hermits, began to inhabit the caves of Mt. Carmel in Palestine to revive the lifestyle of the prophet Elijah in the Christian context with the Blessed Virgin Mary as their patroness.
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