Scapular promoted in parishes on Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

MEDFORD -- As Catholics around the world observed the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, some communities in the Archdiocese of Boston offered the laity an opportunity to be invested with the Brown Scapular, a sacramental that serves as a sign of Marian devotion.

According to tradition, on July 16, 1251, Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared in a vision to St. Simon Stock and gave him a Brown Scapular. The Brown Scapular is meant to be a miniature version of the Carmelite habit worn over the shoulders and consists of two small pieces of fabric connected by a cord, usually worn under one's clothes. It is a sign of belonging to Mary and of the gentle yoke of Christ that she helps the faithful to carry.

Blessing and investitures of the Brown Scapular were held at multiple locations in the Archdiocese of Boston on July 16.

At St. Joseph Church, part of Mary Queen of Peace Parish in Medford, Father Peter Shen spoke about the devotion during his homily and gave Mary Ann Harold the opportunity to address those attending the vigil Mass. Harold then led the distribution of scapulars, which Father Shen blessed.

They also gave out bookmarks explaining the requirements of the Sabbatine Privilege. These consist of wearing the scapular regularly, living in chastity, and praying the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin daily. It is believed that those who observe these requirements and die while wearing the scapular would be saved from hell and that Mary would shorten their time in purgatory.

Harold is a member of the Legion of Mary, whose members promote and distribute sacramentals, especially to the sick or homebound. They have set a goal of distributing 4,000 Brown Scapulars. Harold estimated that they enrolled approximately 200 during the Mass.

Speaking to The Pilot after the Mass, Harold explained that her mother had been part of the Society of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and had instilled a love of the Brown Scapular in her.

"People wear signs of their affiliations with groups. This says, 'I belong to Our Lady and to the Catholic Church,'" Harold said.

She described the scapular as a form of "spiritual protection for an untimely, unprepared-for death." This is all the more important to her at this time since her husband recently had a heart attack and has been in intensive care.

"In these times, so many people are dying of COVID, they need Our Lady's protection," Harold said.

Another investiture took place at the St. Therese Carmelite Chapel at the Northshore Mall in Peabody. The Carmelite priests who run the chapel hold the investiture every year on this feast day.

The chapel was full when Father Sijo Jacob and Father Jilson George celebrated the noon Mass. Local Carmelite sisters provided music for the occasion, and more than 200 people were invested with the Brown Scapular.

In his homily, Father George spoke about Mary's maternal love and protection.

"Mary wrapped the child Jesus with her tender love and accompanied him at every step of his journey. We, too, have our share of struggles, loneliness, betrayals, and rejections in our life. By being invested in the Brown Scapular, we allow ourselves to be wrapped by the tender love of our Blessed Mother. Mary who stood at the foot of the cross will never abandon us in our struggles even after death," Father George said.