Salvation with the Scapular

Salvation with the Scapular

In 1251 Our Lady appeared to the Carmelite, St. Simon Stock. She promised him, “This shall be a privilege for you and all Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit [Scapular] shall not suffer eternal fire.” Woah! What a great promise and comfort lie in this simple devotion!

But how does this work? Is the scapular some magic “get out of Hell free card”? No, not exactly. First, notice how “habit” and “scapular” can be used somewhat interchangeably in the original promise. For the Carmelites, their scapular is a long piece of cloth that hangs on the shoulders and goes all the way down to the knees.

The brown scapulars we wear are a sort of mini version of this. In other words, the scapular points to the habit, which points to the devotion of the whole Carmelite order (this is also true for the other types of scapulars that are tied to other orders).

To enjoy this incredible promise the Blessed Mother gave the Carmelites all one has to do is be enrolled in the Scapular by a priest and wear it continually. Marian prayers and devotions are highly encouraged but not necessarily required. Still, the question remains, how does this work in the economy of grace?

Scapulars, like the rosary, are sacramentals, which are similar to but not the same as the seven Sacraments. Sacramentals are physical objects that are blessed and help bring blessing, but they do not confer grace in the same way the Sacraments do. They dispose us to receive and cooperate with grace (CCC 1670).

In other words, by devoutly wearing the scapular all day, every day, it greatly disposes us to a strong devotion to Mary, and therefore a great love of our Lord. So the scapular doesn’t save us in the sense that we can sin all we want as long as we die with it on, but by wearing it every day we can’t help but want to avoid sin and be with Jesus.

This is always the mission and promise of our Lady. With only simple faith, if we devoutly stay by our Lord and maintain our prayers and devotions, he will purify our hearts and lead us to eternal life. It is not magic, it is God’s infinite love and mercy.

“Those who say the Rosary daily and wear the Brown Scapular and who do a little more will go straight to Heaven.” – St. Alphonsus Liguori

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