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Word of the Week: Scapular
April 25, 2012

I too have worn the Scapular of Carmel over my heart for a long time! – POPE JOHN PAUL II

Each Wednesday, we will feature a "Word of the Week" to expand your vocabulary of Catholic terms. This week's term: Scapular.

Scapular: This term may refer to the long, narrow outer cloak with a hole for the head, worn as part of the habit of many religious orders, or to one or two tiny patches of cloth, usually with devotional images, worn around the neck by some Catholics as a sigh of devotion. The devotional kind is called a small scapular. The most widely known of these is the brown Carmelite scapular. – Catholic News Services stylebook.

Scapular: A scapular is made up of two small pieces of cloth joined by ribbon or cord, and is worn on the chest and back beneath one's clothes as a sign of religious devotion.– Catholic News Service

In looking at Catholic devotional books, rosaries and prayer cards, I have often come across something that looks like a necklace that is often brown in color with two tiny patches of cloth that are connected by one long rope. In a quest to learn more about what this was, I found out that it is a scapular, used as a sign of devotion, just as one might pray a rosary or wear a cross.

However, it isn't surprising that I didn't know what a scapular was. According to Catholic News Service, a CARA report, titled "Sacraments Today: Belief and Practice among U.S. Catholics" noted that while slightly less than one quarter of Catholics usually carried a rosary, only 9 percent carried a scapular.

In doing more research, I discovered that the brown scapular is a Roman Catholic devotion to Mary under her title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The Carmelite Order, to which the Scapular belongs, originated on Mt. Carmel in the Holy Land.

"Therefore two truths are evoked by the sign of the Scapular: on the one hand, the constant protection of the Blessed Virgin, not only on life's journey, but also at the moment of passing into the fullness of eternal glory; on the other, the awareness that devotion to her cannot be limited to prayers and tributes in her honour on certain occasions, but must become a "habit", that is, a permanent orientation of one's own Christian conduct, woven of prayer and interior life, through frequent reception of the sacraments and the concrete practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. In this way the Scapular becomes a sign of the "covenant" and reciprocal communion between Mary and the faithful: indeed, it concretely translates the gift of his Mother, which Jesus gave on the Cross to John and, through him, to all of us, and the entrustment of the beloved Apostle and of us to her, who became our spiritual Mother." – Vatican website, MESSAGE OF JOHN PAUL II TO THE CARMELITE FAMILY.
By Louise Kelly
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Tags: scapular, devotion, Mt. Carmel, Mary

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