16 July 2010

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

16 JULY 2010. Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the name given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patronesss of the Carmelite Order who celebrate today as a feast.

Historically, Mount Carmel is an important location in Judeo-Christian history, associated in the Old Testament with the great prophet Elijah. It was at Mount Carmel that Elijah defended the purity of Israel's faith in the living God. According to the story told in the First Book of Kings, Elijah challenged the450 prophets of Baal, which the people of Israel had been persuaded to worship, as to who of the two of them, Elijah or the 450 prophets of Baal, could call upon his diety to consume a sacrifice with fire. The prophets of Baal were unable to call upon Baal to consume their sacrifice, but Elijah, after having drenched the sacrifice in water, prostrated himself in prayer, and following his prayer:
The LORD'S fire came down and consumed the holocaust, wood, stones, and dust, and it lapped up the water in the trench. Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, "The LORD is God! The LORD is God!"
(1 Kgs 18: 38-39). Immediately upon the people's acclamation that the Lord is God, a hard rain began to fall, ending a serious and prolonged drought that had plagued the area.

In the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries a group of hermits began to settle on Mount Carmel. They built a chapel in the midst of their hermitages, which they dedicated to Our Lady. By the fifteenth century popular devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel had centered on the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or the brown scapular.

According to the traditions of the Carmelite order, on 16 July 1251, the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite. During his vision, she revealed to him the Brown Scapular. About a 125 years later, the Carmelite order began to celebrate on this date as the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The Carmelites had long claimed that the order extended back to ancient times. In fact, they assert that their order was founded on Mount Carmel by  Elijah and Elisha, his assistant. In A.D. 1226, Pope Honorius III approved the Carmelite Order and, in doing so, seemed to have accepted its antiquity. In A.D. 1609 the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was declared to be the patronal feast of the Carmelite order.

From there, celebration of the feast began to spread Pope Benedict XIII placed the feast on the General Roman Calendar in A.D. 1726, and it has since been adopted by some Eastern Rite Catholics as well.

Today's memorial celebrates the devotion that the Blessed Virgin Mary has to those who are devoted to her, and who outwardly demonstrate that devotion by wearing the Brown Scapular. According to tradition, those who wear the scapular faithfully and remain devoted to the Blessed Virgin until death will be granted the grace of final perseverance and will be delivered from Purgatory early.


O most beautiful Flower of Mt. Carmel, Fruitful Vine, Splendour of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein you are my Mother. O holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart, to succour me in this necessity; there are none that can withstand your power.

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