A scapular is a necklace that hangs down both in front and in back, with a small, flat rectangular pendant at each end. Scapular comes from the Latin word scapula that means shoulder blade. It developed as a practical garment, protecting the habit during work, and was in time invested with spiritual significance, consecration or dedication to God.
A scapular is worn under clothing in an incospicuous way. Traditional scapulars are made out of brown cloth like the type of cloth worn by Carmelite nuns. They can also be made out of leather, various colored cloth, vinyl, or plastic.
Small scapulars derived that represent a certain devotion or spiritual idea from a community. These scapulars have two pieces of cloth (generally about an inch square), connected by cords and worn over the head. It often has a picture or a particular color, depending on the spirituality it stands for.
The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is well known and favored by the Church. In many of the Blessed Mother's apparitions she also favored this scapular. It is adapted from the scapular of the Carmelite Order and represents a special Consecration to Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
People who wear it practice a special devotion to Mary. In the past this was the Little Office of Our Lady, but today this can be commuted by any priest to the Rosary. The person also has a special entrustment of themselves to Mary for their salvation.
The entrustment, in fact, has been promised to those who faithfully wear the scapular: "Those who die wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire."
Do not think that this is superstitious or magic, but in light of Catholic teaching that perseverance in faith, hope, and love are required for salvation. The scapular reminds us of this Christian obligation and of Mary's promise to help those consecrated to her obtain the grace of final perseverance.
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