Friday, July 16, 2004







On this solemn feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a “second nocturn” from an old breviary:

Lesson iv

There is an old story to the effect that many men continued to live on Mount Camel in the spirit of the holy Prophets Elijah and Elisha. And that those of them who were of the times of Saint John Baptist were made ready by his preaching to accept the Messiah. And that when the Apostles were filled with the Spirit upon the holy day of Pentecost, and spake with diverse tongues, and worked miracles by calling upon the Name of Jesus (which is above every name), these Carmelites, seeing and being assured of the truth, straightway embraced the Faith of the Gospel. And that on account of their singular love toward the Blessed Virgin, (who was personally known to them as a familiar friend,) they paid her the respect of building her a little chapel, (the first which was ever raised in her honour, ) which same stood on that part of Mount Carmel whence the servant of Elijah had in old days espied that manifest type of the Virgin, whereof he spake, saying: Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand.

Lesson v

To this new chapel they repaired oftentimes, day by day, and in their liturgy honoured the blessed Virgin as the particular guardian of their community. For this reason they came to be everywhere called the Brethren of Blessed Mary, of Mount Carmel. Now it would seem that this her name and protection are not the only gifts which this Virgin Lady bountiful hath given them. For it is believed that she gave them also the badge of the Holy Scapular which is said to have been bestowed on blessed Simon Stock the Englishman. This same is a certain holy vesture which hath become the special mark of this Order, whereby Carmelites trust that they are harnessed against all assaults. Moreover, in olden times, when as yet this Order was unknown in Europe, and not a few were importuning Honorius III to put an end to it, the gracious Virgin Mary (so it is said) appeared by night to the said Honorius, and flatly commanded him to shew kindness to the Order and to the men belonging thereto.

Lesson vi

Many godly persons believe that it is not in this world only that the blessed Virgin hath marked with her favour this Order which pleaseth her so well, but in the next world also. For there her power and mercy have freer scope than here. And so they most surely trust that all who belong to the Guild of the Scapular if they have practised what is enjoined on them, (that is, a certain easy rule of abstinence, faithfulness in brief daily prayers, and the keeping of chastity according to their state of life,) are comforted by her motherly love while they are being cleansed in purgatory, and by her help are borne forward towards their home in heaven more quickly than others. Thus this Order (because it cherisheth these things as so many and so great gifts) hath instituted today’s feast as a solemn Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to be made year after year in perpetual observance thereof.