The Brown Scapular…a gift from our Heavenly Mother
As I write this column in early April, the COVID-19 pandemic looms front and center in all of our lives. While I cannot know what the state of affairs will be when this is published, I am compelled to begin here. This crisis has been like nothing any of us have experienced in our lifetime, and in a real sense has brought our world to a grinding halt… and hopefully to our knees (in prayer). We are being forced to stop and among other things to face our mortality. And while this is not necessarily a comfortable place, it is an opportunity for us as Catholics (and Legatus members) to live our faith! I am reminded of Pope St. John Paul II’s continuous exhortation, “Be Not Afraid!” As Catholics, we know we are not living for this world, but for eternity. I know things are extraordinarily tough right now, and may likely get worse before they get better, but time and again God has told us not to be afraid because He is with us! So, whether it be in our families, businesses or communities, let us be not afraid, trust in God and keep moving forward…
For centuries the Church has set aside the month of May to honor Mary. So I thought it would be appropriate this month to write about a Marian devotion that is meaningful to me. A recent experience prompted me to think about the brown scapular I wear. To make a long story short, I had taken my scapular off and forgot to put it back on, and then left it in Florida when traveling to Michigan. I realized how bare I felt without it, and how much I take it for granted. I began wearing one when I was in the orphanage, all the boys did. I do not think I wore it while in the Marine Corps, but I have worn one for most of my life…certainly for the last 40 – 50 years.
I realized that many people may not be familiar with this popular Catholic devotion. In terms of its history, the brown scapular is from the Carmelites and it dates back to 1251 when Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite. The tradition states that she handed him a brown scapular and promised him that whoever dies wearing this scapular will not suffer eternal fire. (I encourage you to read more about its history and other aspects of this devotion.) Of course, we know that the scapular is not a good luck charm, but one of the many sacramentals that the Church has given us, a sacred sign from the Church used to sanctify us and symbolize something going on in our hearts. Those who devoutly wear it renew their commitment to live in faith and devotion, and to place themselves under our Lord’s protection through His mother.
The brown scapular symbolizes salvation, protection against all dangers, and peace. How fitting during this current crisis we are facing.
Our Lady, Health of the Sick…Pray for us!
TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.