Enrolled in Our Lady’s protection

Canon Michael Stein enrolls a man with the brown scapular, a sign of devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel during her feast day July 16 at St. Joseph Oratory in Detroit.

St. Joseph parishioners take advantage of scapular’s graces

Detroit — For centuries, Catholics have worn the brown scapular as a sign of devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The scapular was given by Our Lady of Mount Carmel to St. Simon Stock of the Carmelite Order in the 13th century, a small brown fabric worn by the laity meant to symbolize the brown habit worn by the Carmelites, invoking Mary’s protection.

On Sunday, July 16, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, members of St. Joseph Oratory in Detroit continued the Carmelite tradition with a blessing and enrollment of the brown scapular.

“When Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock and gave him the scapular, which was already in the Carmelites’ habit, it became a way the lay faithful can have a special protection and guidance from Our Lady,” said Canon Michael Stein, rector of St. Joseph Oratory. “When you wear the scapular, you participate in all the merits of the Carmelite order, their prayers and sacrifices throughout the world.”

Just as a member of a religious order is invested with a habit, being invested with a scapular resembles being invested with the full habit of the Carmelites, participating in the merits of the order.

“A scapular is a sacramental, so the amount of grace that gets poured into the soul for wearing a sacramental is linked to the piety of our devotion,” Canon Stein explained. “In a sacrament, it’s in and of itself. But a sacramental, it hinges on our devotion, it hinges on our fidelity.”

Brittany Woodcock, a St. Joseph Oratory parishioner, wanted to be invested with a scapular after learning the parish was offering the enrollment after Mass.

“It’s another step in my faith really,” Woodcock said. “It means being closer to God, to Mary and the saints. It’s not just the scapular itself, but the extra protection and another way to pray, an extra defense.”

The chance to be enrolled in the scapular was an opportunity for people who’ve been wearing a scapular for a while, but were never formally enrolled in the devotion.

“I’ve worn the scapular for a long time, but today on this feast day, we were offered this great opportunity,” St. Joseph Oratory parishioner Maria Meszaros said. “I’m happy to have this done with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Elijah the prophet wore a simple garb of undyed wood, and eventually the Carmelites took on the same kind of garb.

The scapulars themselves were provided by wearthescapular.com, a Detroit ministry dedicated to increasing awareness about the scapular and providing high-quality, durable scapulars to the faithful.

“Our primary concern is to increase the devotion to the scapular,” said Jon Brewer, who helps run the Wear the Scapular website. “We’ve noticed that good, quality scapulars are hard to come by. So we’ve come up with good, durable scapulars that will hold up well, and we offer a lifetime warranty.

“Wearing the scapular shows devotion to Our Lady is important in our Catholic life,” Brewer added. “To wear the scapular, you have the promise of the Sabbatine Privilege, to bypass purgatory and go straight to heaven.”

Besides the graces and protection of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Canon Stein added wearing the scapular is a great public witness to the faith.

“It’s a nice public testimony when that brown cord starts to pop up over the collar and a coworker asks, ‘What is that?’ and the next thing you know, you’re talking about Our Lady in the workplace. So it’s very beneficial.”