Friday, July 15, 2011

Our Lady of Mt.. Carmel




From the Seton Newsletter.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
We celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16th, the date of Our Lady's appearance to St. Simon Stock. The celebration of this feast seems particularly appropriate in light of the current conflict between Muslims and Christians. This feast gives us and our children an opportunity to learn about how the Church has suffered from those who oppose us. Our children can be prayer "crusaders" in their own home.


Mount Carmel was the location in Palestine where, in the Old Testament times, the Prophet Elias called down fire from heaven, once to destroy an enemy pagan captain and his fifty soldiers, and once to prove to the pagan priests that the true God of the Israelites was in control. The Prophet Elias lived on Mount Carmel most of his life as a monk; it was because he lived there with other monks living a life of prayer and sacrifice, that Mount Carmel was considered a sacred mountain.


Later during the Old Testament time of Judith, King Nabuchodonosor sent his general to "bring all the earth under his empire." One of the places that resisted this invasion was Carmel. Although Judith did not live in Carmel, she was an Israelite widow who prayed for God to give her the strength to defeat the king and his general, General Holofernes. Judith was given a strategy by God, and she killed the general in his own camp.



In New Testament times, chapels, including one to the Blessed Mother, were built on Mount Carmel, and an order of monks called Carmelites lived there. Throughout the centuries when the followers of Islam, the Mohammedans or the Saracens, were destroying Christian cities and churches, Carmel was destroyed but rebuilt again by the Christians. The Crusaders fought valiantly during the holy wars trying to save Carmel and the other holy lands.



However, because of the devastation, the Carmelite Order moved to Europe. Later, St. Simon Stock, born in England in the mid 1100's, joined the Carmelite Order in England, where there was great devotion to the Blessed Mother. He became the general of the Carmelite Order, and spent several years in the monastery on Mount Carmel. The Order spread through Europe, and in 1252 the pope gave official recognition to the Carmelite Order.



The Blessed Mother appeared to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251, in Kent, England, and gave him a scapular for the monks to wear day and night. She told the saint, "Those wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire."



Since then, the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel has become a favorite with Catholics all over the world, many popes and saints wearing it daily. Scapulars, official sacramentals of the Church, with their prayers and devotions, have become second in popularity only to the Rosary. The Church has granted many spiritual benefits to the wearing of the Brown Scapular.



St. Terese of Lisieux, the Little Flower and Doctor of the Church who joined the Carmelite Order, wrote about Mary as our Mother and a model for us to imitate. Mary cares for us as a mother, and we should love her as our heavenly mother. We need to look to her as the perfect disciple of Jesus, and try to imitate her way of life, especially her instant and complete obedience to His holy will.



Those who wear the scapular show their devotion to the Mother of God by frequent prayer and frequent reception of the sacraments. The scapular is a sign, a symbol of our willingness to commit ourselves to a higher spiritual life of prayer and devotion, as well as the practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.



For us homeschooling parents, Our Lady of Mount Carmel should remind us of the attacks against the church, whether they are from across the seas or right in our own country. We and our children need to re-dedicate ourselves to praying for the Church, and to ask the Blessed Mother in prayer to help our Church at this time in our country when it is under attack from the pagan society, from the media, and even from those supposedly within the Church who want the laws of God abandoned.



Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we know you are our heavenly mother and are dedicated to protecting us. Please intercede for us with your Son to protect our Church from the enemies of your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to learn through teaching our children that our holy Catholic Faith is the most precious treasure we have, and that we must be willing to make great sacrifices for the Church which your Son founded for our eternal salvation. Amen.



Another prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the Flos Carmeli (Flower of Carmel) composed by Saint Simon Stock.

O Beautiful Flower of Carmel, most fruitful vine,splendor of heaven, holy and singular, who brought forth the Son of God, still ever remaining a pure virgin, assist us in our necessity! O Star of the Sea, help and protect us! Show us that you are our Mother! Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!



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