Brown scapular significant to MCA

mca_brownscapular    One of the precious lessons that I’ve learned over my past five years at Mount Carmel Academy is the school’s richness in both tradition and spirituality. Like many symbols that help individuals and groups identify themselves and find a sense of belonging, Mount Carmel Academy holds the Brown Scapular as a sacred sign of the commitment and love that Mary showed her son.
    The custom of lay people wearing a scapular began in the Middle Ages. In particular, the history of the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is traced to St. Simon Stock, the general of the Carmelite order.  Mary appeared to Simon Stock, entrusting to him the scapular with her words: “This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall be saved.” The scapular became a visible sign that all people could wear, signifying one’s commitment to the spiritual beliefs of the Carmelite Order.
    I have witnessed the devotion to what the scapular represents – following Jesus as the Blessed Mother did – among Mount Carmel Academy students and faculty. The affection for the ideals of the scapular is manifested in the annual scapular initiation ceremony, when junior “big sisters” bless eighth grade “little sisters,” and ninth graders present it to their new ninth grade “buddies”  reciting the prayer: “May God, through the prayers of Mary, the Mother of God, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, bless you with gentle strength and strong love.”
    When I received my scapular, I was thrilled yet nervous. In my eighth-grade Carmelite history course, I learned that the scapular is a daily reminder to live with the patience, grace, and love for Christ just as Mary did. So, I have felt challenged to put all of my trust and faith in Jesus since then.
    I now understand that when I received the scapular in eighth grade, I not only committed to my classmates but also to all of the members of my school community and those I encounter in life.
    For many Carmelites, the scapular acts as a constant reminder to be open to God and his will as Mary was. I need to “let go and let God” in my daily struggles. The Blessed Mother provided the perfect example of recognizing God in scripture as well as ordinary conversation.         Another lesson that the scapular reminds me of is the importance of prayer. Through prayer, we are able to recognize God’s influence. Through the power of prayer, Mount Carmel Academy has instilled in me the value of a close relationship with Jesus Christ. What has become dearest to my heart is community prayer. Daily prayers over the P.A. system, the sharing of intentions in class and rosaries in the grotto have taught me the lesson that relying on others is not a sign of weakness but rather a sense of humility that no one can accomplish everything alone.
    Dominique Becnel is a Mount Carmel Academy senior.