Today in Carmel we celebrate our Patronal Solemnity, the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. When the first Carmelite hermits established their community, they dedicated their little oratory to Our Lady whom they invoked as Lady of Mount Carmel. Under the mantle of her motherly protection they sought to live their consecrated lives. Originally their habit was a cloak, but following the apparition to St Simon Stock, the Scapular became the habit and the symbol of their Marian consecration.
Today all can share in the spirituality and privileges of Carmel through enrollment in the Scapular. We can no longer preach the Sabbatine Privilege, and as far as I am concerned it is not necessary. If those who wear the Scapular live what it symbolises, they have no need of special promises, they are already on the road to holiness because that is what the Scapular is about: consecration, living the Gospel, seeking holiness. Being clothed in the Scapular is no mere pious ceremony, it is an entering into a greater adherence to Christ and a more radical living of the Gospel. Indeed, we do not just wear the Scapular, we are to live it.
Being clothed in the Scapular is to be clothed in the mantle of Mary who is our Mother and Queen. Under her protection and her tutelage we live our lives as determined and faithful disciples of Christ. And as it is derived from an apron, the Scapular reminds us that, like the knights of old who adhered to the rules of chivalry, we who wear and live the Scapular are in the service of our gracious Lady, Mary the Mother of the Lord.
So today is a moment for all us who have been professed according to the Evangelical Counsels and consecrated in our religious life through the Scapular to be renewed in that consecration. It is a moment also for all who wear the Scapular to remember what it symbolises and reflect on how it impacts on the daily lives. It is also a day to celebrate the patronage and protection of our Holy Mother who continually prays for her children, seeking to guide us to her Son Jesus and form us according to her Immaculate Heart.
Happy Feast Day!
I will be busy today - I have an Enrollment Mass in Belfast- St Teresa's Church on the Glen Road at 7pm. If any of you are around, you're welcome to join us.