Monday, July 16, 2007

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

It's already 8 p.m. We are on the verge of failing to mention Our Lady's feast day on the day. The good old Catholic Encyclopædia lets us down today. It has on article on Our Lady of Mount Carmel but it is devoted entirely to liturgical minutiæ. If you really want to know when the feast was raised to a major double of the first class with a vigil and a privileged octave, you can find the article here.

The complete tale of the Our Lady's appearance to St Simon Stock can be found under today's date in Dom Gueranger's "The Liturgical Year". Alas, it is not on line and far too long for me to type out. But if you have a copy, pull down volume XIII from the shelf and have a look at the entry for "July 16". (If you don't have a copy, you can get one here.)

This version is from the 2d nocturn for the feast in the old Roman Breviary:

When on the holy day of Pentecost the Apostles, through heavenly inspiration, spake in foreign tongues, and worked many wonders by the invocation of the most sacred Name of Jesus ; it is said that many men, who were walking in the footsteps of the holy prophets Elijah and Elisha, and had been prepared for the coming of Christ by the heralding of John the Baptist, saw and were assured of the truth. They at once embraced the faith of the Gospel, and began to venerate the most blessed Virgin (whose conversation and familiar intercourse they were happily able to enjoy) with a certain peculiar affection, so that they, before all others, built a chapel to that purest of Virgins on that very spot of Mount Carmel where Elijah of old had seen a cloud arising, a remarkable symbol of the Virgin.

Therefore many times each day they came together to the new oratory, and with pious ceremonies, prayers, and praises honoured the most blessed Virgin as the special protectress of their Order. For this reason, they began to be called the brethren of Our Lady of Mount Carmel everywhere, and by all ; and the supreme Pontiffs not only confirmed this title, but also granted special indulgences to whomsoever should call either the whole Order or individual brethren by that name. But the most noble Virgin not only gave them such a great title and patronage, but also the badge of the holy scapular. This she bestowed upon blessed Simon the Englishman, so that the sacred Order might be differéntiated by this heavenly vesture, and be protected by it from the evils that were assailing it. And finally, since of old the Order was unknown in Europe, and on this account many were importuning Honorius III for its abolition, the most tender Virgin Mary appeared by night to Honorius, and distinctly commanded him to receive both the institute and its members with kindness.

The most blessed Virgin by many privileges hath distinguished this Order which is so acceptable to her, not only in this world, but also in another world (since everywhere her power and her mercy count for very much). For it is piously believed, that those of her children who, having been enrolled in the Confraternity of the Scapular, have observed the slight abstinence and have said the few prayers prescribed, and have observed chastity as far as their state of life doth demand, will certainly be comforted by her maternal affection while they are being purified in the fire of Purgatory, and will through her intercession be taken thence as soon as possible to the heavenly fatherland. Therefore the Order, laden with so many and such great favours, hath instituted a solemn Commemoration of the most blessed Virgin, to be celebrated year by year in perpetual observance, to the glory of that same Virgin.