Presence of God – O Mary, Beauty of Carmel, make me worthy of your protection, clothe me with your scapular, and be the teacher of my interior life.
The Blessed Virgin is a Mother who clothes us with grace and takes our supernatural life under her protection, in order to bring it to its full flowering in eternal life. She, the Immaculate, full of grace from the first moment of her conception, takes our souls stained by sin, and with a maternal gesture, cleanses them in the Blood of Christ and clothes them with grace, which, together with Him, she has merited for us. We can truly say that the garment of grace was woven by the blessed hands of Mary, who day by day, moment by moment, gave herself entirely, in union with her Son, for our salvation. Legend tells of the seamless robe which the Blessed Virgin wove for Jesus; but, for us—and in reality—she has done much more. She has cooperated in obtaining the garment of our eternal salvation, the wedding garment in which we shall enter the banquet hall of heaven. How she longs that this robe be imperishable! From the moment we received it, Mary has never ceased to follow us with her maternal gaze, to safeguard within us the life of grace. Each time we are converted and return to God or rise again after falling into sin—be it great or small—each time we increase in grace, all, everything, is effected through Mary’s mediation. The scapular, the little habit, that our Lady of Mount Carmel offers us, is only the external symbol of her unceasing, maternal care: the symbol, but also the sign, the pledge of eternal salvation. “My beloved son,” Mary said to St. Simon Stock, “take this scapular … whoever dies clothed in it will not suffer eternal fire.” The Blessed Virgin gives the assurance of the supreme grace of final perseverance to all who wear worthily her little habit.
“Those who wear the scapular,” said Pius XII, “profess to belong to Our Lady.” Because we belong to Mary she takes special care of our souls. One who belongs to her cannot be lost or be touched by eternal fire. Her powerful maternal intercession gives her the right to repeat, for her children, the words of Jesus: “Holy Father … those whom Thou gavest Me have I kept; and none of them is lost” (Jn 17:12).
“O Mary, flower of Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, who brought forth the Son of God yet remained a Virgin, sweet and Immaculate Mother, grant the favors your children implore, O Star of the sea” (St. Simon Stock).
“O most Blessed Virgin: has anyone ever invoked your aid without being helped? We, your little children, rejoice with you for all your virtues, but particularly for your mercy. We praise your virginity, we admire your humility; but for the needy, mercy has even a sweeter savor. We have a more tender love for mercy, we recall it more often, and we invoke it more frequently. Truly your mercy has obtained the redemption of the world; together with your prayers, it has secured the salvation of all mankind. Oh Mary, who can measure the length, breadth, height and depth of your mercy? Its length reaches to the end of time, to help all who call upon it; its breadth encompasses the whole world, for all the earth is full of your goodness! The height of your mercy has unlocked the gates of the heavenly city and has obtained the redemption of those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. By you, O Mary, the erring are brought back to the right road and heaven is filled. Thus your most powerful and merciful charity is poured over us like a compassionate and helpful love” (St. Bernard).
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Art: Virgen del Carmen [Virgen of Carmel], José Gil de Castro, 1822, PD-US, copyright expired, Wikimedia Commons; Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.