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The brown Scapular

of our Lady

of Mount Carmel


Signs in ordinary human life

The world in which we live is full of material things which have symbolic meaning: light, fire, water ..... 
There are also, in every- day life, experiences of relationships between human beings, which express and symbolize deeper realities such as sharing a meal (as a sign of friendship), taking part in a protest march (as a sign of solidarity), joining together in a national celebration (as a sign of identity). 
We need signs and symbols to help us under-stand what is happening at present, or what happened before, and to give us an awareness of who we are, as individuals and as groups.  

Signs in Christian life

Jesus is the great sign and gift of the Father's love. He founded the Church as a sign and instrument of his love. Christian life also has its signs. Jesus used bread, wine, and water, to help us understand higher things, which we can neither see nor touch.  

In the celebration of the Eucharist and the other sacraments (baptism confirmation, reconciliation, matrimony, orders, the sacrament of the sick) the symbols, (water, oil, the laying on of hands, the rings), all have their own meaning and bring us into communication with God, present in each of them.  

As well as liturgical signs, the Church has others related to some event, to some tradition, or some person. One of these is the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  

The Scapular is a sign of Mary

One of the signs in the tradition of the Church from many centuries ago is the Brown Scapular 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.  
The word scapular indicates a form of clothing which monks wore when they were working.  
With the passage of time, people began to 
give symbolic meaning to it: the cross to be borne every day as disciples and followers of Christ. In some religious orders, such as the Carmelites, the Scapular turned into a sign of their way of life. The Scapular came to symbolize the special dedication of Carmelites to Mary, the Mother of God, and to express trust in her motherly protection as well as the desire to be like her in her commitment to Christ and to others. Thus it became a sign of Mary. 

The Carmelite Scapular

is not: 
- a magical charm to protect you 
- an automatic guarantee of salvation- an excuse for not living up to the demands of the Christian life 
it is: 

A SIGN which 

o has been approved by the Church for over seven centuries 

o stands for the decision to follow Jesus like Mary:  
- open to God and to his will,  
- guided by faith, hope and love,  
- close to the needs of people,  
- praying at all times,  
- discovering God present in all that happens around us 

o introduces people into the family of Carmel,  

o points to a renewed hope of encoun-tering God in eternal life with the help of Mary's protection and intercession.. 


Some practical rules • People are enrolled in the Scapular only once, by a priest or authorized person. 

• The scapular can be replaced afterwards by a medal which has on one side the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and on the other, the image of Mary. 

• The scapular holds us to live as authentic Christ-ians in line with the teaching of the Gospel, to receive the sacraments, to profess our special devotion to the Blessed Virgin, which should be expressed each day, at least, by saying the Hail Mary three times. 

Short form  for giving the Scapular

Receive this Scapular, a sign of your special relationship with Mary the Mother of Jesus, whom you pledge to imitate. May it be a reminder to you of your dignity as a Christian, in serving others and imitating Mary. Wear it as a sign of her protection and of belonging to the family of Carmel, voluntarily doing the will of God and devoting yourself to building a world true to his plan of community, justice and peace. 

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Updated 12 giu 2003  by OCD General House
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