Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July 16 -- Our Lady of Mount Carmel

from The Church's Year of Grace by Dr Pius Parsch, vol iv, pg 249

Today is the principal feastday of the Carmelite Order. Through the efforts of the crusader Berthold, a group of hermits living on Mount Carmel were organized into an Order after the traditional Western type about the year 1150. Oppressed by the Saracens, the monks slowly emigrated to Europe. During the night preceding the sixteenth of July, 1225, the Blessed Virgin is said to have commanded Pope Honorius III to approve the foundation (cf. fifth Lesson at Matins). Since the Carmelites were still under constant harassment, the sixth General of the Order, St Simon Stock , pleaded with the Blessed Virgin for some special sign of her protection. On July 16, 1251, she designated the scapular as the special mark of her maternal love. That is why the present feast is also known as the feast of the Scapular. The Scapular, as part of the habit, is common to many religious Orders, but it is a special feature of the Carmelites. A smaller form of the scapular is given to lay persons in order that they may share in the great graces associated with it. Such a grace is the "Sabbatine privilege." In the so-called Bulla Sabbatina John XXII affirmed that wearers of the scapular are soon freed from the flames of purgatory, at least by the Saturday after death. The latest confirmation of the Bulla Sabbatina was promulgated by the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences, July 4, 1908.

Application. The Blessed Virgin scapular should remind us that Christians have an apostolate against current extremes and extravagances in modes of dress. Clothes are a symbol of the person. Like the Christian heart, dress must be chaste and simple, for one judges the interior from the exterior. It should not be necessary to add that special attention be given this matter when preparing for church attendance.

2. Holy Mass (Gaudeamus). In part the Mass is from the Common, in part it is composed of proper texts. We begin with a joyful shout. We are celebrating a feast in Mary's honor; yes, even the angels in heaven are taking note (Introit); and the Church adds her finest nuptial hymn, Psalm 44. The priest enters, clad in festal robes, a type of the heavenly bride going to her divine nuptials (this very common Introit originated in the Greek liturgy).

In the Lesson Mary stands before us as our instructor and describes her office of protectress: "I am the mother of fair love, of fear, of knowledge, and of holy hope. . . . .Come to me, all of you, and be filled with my fruits." the Gospel is the well-known passage from the Marian Masses in which Christ praises His Mother as blessed and includes all those who mother God spiritually through hearing and keeping His word. By way of exception, the Offertory and Communion are petition prayers composed by the Church. Let those who have a Little Office of the Blessed Virgin pray it as part of today's liturgy.