Fr. Joal Bernales, parochial vicar of St. Anne Parish in Gilbert, enrolls parishioners into the Brown Scapular at the parish July 16. (Ryan McPherson/CATHOLIC SUN)

GILBERT — More than 60 faithful were enrolled in the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular July 16, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, at St. Anne Parish in Gilbert.

“The feast celebrates those who are devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary and who signal that devotion by wearing the brown scapular,” said Fr. Joal Bernales, who celebrated Mass and enrolled parishioners in the Brown Scapular.

The blessing and investiture with the scapular was performed right after the Mass. It was conducted in a fashion similar to the distribution of Holy Communion, with the priest blessing the enrollee and placing the scapular over the person.

Ad Jesum per Mariam: To Jesus through Mary,” Fr. Bernales said in his homily, referencing the dictum which summarizes shortly and simply that Mary is the means by which one may reach the end of her Son. “True devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary will lead us ultimately to our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Wearing the brown scapular, after the Rosary, is one of the greatest expressions of true Marian devotion.

The Brown Scapular is a sacramental: that is, according to Catholic Encyclopedia, “an action or object which in its performance or use bears some resemblance to a sacrament.” It was first given to St. Simon Stock, an English Carmelite monk, by the Blessed Virgin, during an apparition on July 16, 1251. After giving him the Scapular, Mary said: “This shall be a privilege for you and all Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall not suffer eternal fire.”

Initially a monastic privilege, the Church has, over time, extended this sacramental to the laity. At the time of the apparition, the scapular was a large monastic woolen garment, almost the size of a regular habit. The size of the normal scapular worn by laity is much smaller, consisting of two patches of woolen cloth, frontward and backward, united by a string, no more than two inches in length and width.

Avoidance of hell is not the only privilege the mother of God promises to wearers of the Brown Scapular. The Sabbatine Privilege was revealed by Pope John XXII in a 1322 papal bull according to a vision he received; through that privilege Mary promises the following:

“I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death and whomsoever I shall find in purgatory I shall free so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting.”

Conditions must be met in order to attain that privilege: the enrollee must wear constantly the Brown Scapular, observe chastity, and recite daily the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The latter work can be replaced with either fasting and abstaining from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays, or, another good work with the permission of a priest, such as daily recitation of the Rosary.

A mother of five named, fittingly, Mary, had each of her children enrolled in the Brown Scapular.

“I feel happier already,” said Faith, one of her daughters, about her new enrollment in the Scapular. “[Our Lady] is a good mother.”

Alongside the mediation made by the Blessed Virgin with God on behalf of sinners, Faith’s mother sought to gain Mary’s special protection against evil for her children.

“She stands between the evil one and us so that he may never steal us from our Lord. … It is she who can protect our soul!”