Mangaluru: Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite Order. Since the 15th century, popular devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel has centered on the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel also known as the Brown Scapular, a sacramental associated with promises of Mary’s special aid for the salvation of the devoted wearer. Traditionally, Mary is said to have given the Scapular to an early Carmelite named SaintSimon Stock. The liturgical feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated on July 16.
The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is known to many Catholic faithful as the “scapular feast,” associated with the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a devotional sacramental signifying the wearer’s consecration to Mary and affiliation with the Carmelite Order. A tradition first attested to in the late 14th century says that Saint Simon Stock, an early prior general of the Carmelite Order, had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in which she gave him the Brown Scapular which formed part of the Carmelite habit, promising that those who died wearing the scapular would be saved.
Mount Carmel Central School-Mary Hill here celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Patroness of the School on July 15, 2015 (a day earlier than the actual feast day which is on July 16), and Eid-Ul-Fitr ( which falls during the weekend) together in a grand manner. The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the 16th of July commemorates the appearance of Mother Mary on Mount Carmel in Palestine, where she appeared to St. Simon Stock, the Superior General of the Carmelite Order in the year 1251. This day is also celebrated as Foundation day of the Apostolic Carmel Congregation, which was founded by Venerable Mother Veronica, Foundress of the Apostolic Carmel in 1868 at Bayonne, France.
The celebration began with a Holy Mass for Catholic children and staff by Rev. Fr. Stervin SCJ, at Maryhill Chapel. In his homily Fr Stervin advised the children saying, ” You need to obey your parents, be faithful and sincere. Mother Mary is an perfect example, you need to follow in her footsteps. You need to show your love and concern to your neighbours and also to the community. Follow the three principles- Be Obedient, Be sincere and Be full of Service to others. You also need to pray for other children who don’t have all the facilities like you do. If you ever feel distressed during your day — call upon our Lady — just say this simple prayer: ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.’ I must admit — this prayer will never fail you”.
Fr Stervin further said, “In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal. As a Patroness of your institution you need to adore Mary, follow her and seek blessings from her for the success in your academics and in your lives. Be God fearing children, have faith in your religion and be good children”.
The Mass was then followed by first, a cultural programme by Class III A and B for the lower classes and later by Class X and XII for higher classes in the school auditorium. Lower class students highlighted the importance of Carmel Feast through a meaningful skit and dance. Importance of Ramzan was highlighted through a song. The students of Class X entertained the gathering with a festive folk dance setting the tone for this joyous celebration. This was followed by a heart rending song honouring Mother Mary. An informative skit by the students of Class X, highlighting the significance of the feast of Mount Carmel, received a loud applaud from the gathering.
Somanna of Class XII enlightened the gathering on the significance of Eid-Ul-Fitr. This was followed by a mesmerizing dance performance by Class XII and Class X, which had the audience tapping their feet. The Chief Guest of the day Sr. Irene D’Souza AC who has come down from Kenya on vacation, graciously gave her loving message, verging the students to inculcate the values of Mother Mary in their lines. Before delivering her message to the audience to both the lower class and higher class students, Sr D’Souza made the audience to repeat after her saying, ” God is good all the time, God is so good, so good..and he is so good to me all the time”.
Continuing with her speech she said, ” Do you know what are Mother Mary’s virtues? Prayerful, Simple, Thoughtful, Loving, Helpful, Forgiving etc. You are lucky to be be students of Mount Carmel. You need to follow in the footsteps of your Patroness, and set an example to others. Your life must have an impact on others. Make a difference by being a blessing to others. Why did your parents choose Carmel School? Not just for academic performance but character formation-Your model Mother of Carmel. Folow her ways, God will bless you abundantly. And to our Muslim children here, engage yourself in prayer, fasting and special reflection. Read Quran. Believe in the five pillars of Islam- Testimony of faith, Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving and Pilgrimage. Salam Alaykum! Peace be with you all, which is a universal Muslim greeting”.
Janice welcomed the gathering, Niyathi proposed the vote of thanks and the programme was compered excellently by Vinita and Arolin of Class X. Sr Melissa AC- Principal of the school wished everyone a blessed Mount Carmel Feast, and also Eid-Ul-Fitr greetings. The formal function for the children was followed by a get-together filled with fun-n-frolic for the staff and teachers, where laughter and fun filled the air. I end this column with the ‘Prayer to the Blessed Mother of Mount Carmel-
“O most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me 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 succor me in this necessity (make request). There are none that can withstand your power. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Sweet Mother I place this cause in your hands. Amen.”
About Our Lady of Mount Carmel :
The feast day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel falls on July 16. The connection of Mary, the mother of Christ, and the renowned mountain of biblical times is a long story and filled with insights into the motherhood of Mary as she prays and cares for her Son’s faithful in the world. Mt. Carmel’s importance extends far back into history. The mountain is located in a richly forested area at the southern end of a long fertile valley known from ancient times for its wine and oil production. At the top of the mount, there is a view of the Mediterranean’s shore, making it a strategic site for defense of the rich land below it. There are indications that stone-age man once lived in caves on the side of Mt. Carmel. The mount is known as the place of a contest between Elijah and 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah (both false gods.)
The area is known for its cover of flower blossoms, flowering shrubs, and fragrant herbs. The beauty of the bride in Solomon’s song is compared to the beauty of this mountain. On the mountain’s slopes there are plentiful pastures Caves on the mountains often provided shelter for monks through the ages, in which Elijah and Elisha took refuge. An abiding sense of the reference to Mt. Carmel suggests God’s care and copious giving of life and care. Its Hebrew name “karmel” means “garden land” and “a fruitful place.”
The feast day we now celebrate on July 16 recalls the foundation of the Carmelite religious order in the 12th century. The founder, Berthold, may have been a pilgrim to the area (perhaps to cave of Elijah), or a crusader. Tradition says that he came from southern France but when venturing in the Holy Land came to encounter fierce soldiers. After a vision of Christ, he went to Mt. Carmel and built a small chapel there, soon joined by hermits who all lived there in community in imitation of Elijah. After his death, it seems that St. Brocard became leader of the hermits eventually leading to the establishment of the Order of Carmelites in the 12th century.
In Carmelite tradition, Mt. Carmel had been a place devoted to monastic-style prayer since the time of Elijah. They built a monastery and it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, as she was “Star of the Sea” – a medieval title describing the mother of Christ as the cloud of life that dwells over the sea promising rain and fertility. (Remember that the Mediterranean is seen from Mt. Carmel and is a garden of life.) Throughout the monastery’s long history, there were periods of sadness, especially when it fell under Islamic control, becoming a mosque known as El-Maharrakah (the place of burning, referring to Elijah’s challenge to the pagan prophets.) In the 18th century, Napoleon established the location as a hospital, but this was destroyed in 1821. Funds were collected by the Carmelites, an order worldwide by this time, and they restored the monastery.
Continuing the story, we come to the scapular of Mt. Carmel. According to Carmelite tradition, this scapular – a small piece of rough wool cloth – was given in a vision by Virgin Mary to the monastic Simon Stock, living in England in the 13th century. On July 16, 1251, he prayed to Mary that his order could be saved from its oppression. She appeared with the scapular in hand, and told him: “Take, beloved son this scapular of thy order as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant.”
Promises associated with the scapular are: Mary’s protection of the Carmelite order and all those who wear the scapular (including laymen of its Third Order); special help at one’s hour of death for all who wear the habit (or scapular) in Mary’s name; and the so-called “Sabbatine Privilege” which Pope John XXII declared in 1322 meant early release from Purgatory for those who died in Mary’s care.
The history of the Carmelite order is itself long and full of blessings. Monasteries were built throughout Europe and other parts of the world throughout the ages. Both nuns and monks often received special visions from Mary and Jesus. Until this day, it seems that Mary shines like a star over the sea leading the faithful to her Son and to the fruit-bearing life God provides now and eternally.