Flos Carmeli, vitis florigera, splendor cæli, Virgo puerpera, singularis.
Mater mitis, sed viri nescia, Carmelitis da privilegia, stella maris.
(Flower of Carmel, blossoming vine, splendor of heaven, childbearing Virgin, unique.
(Meek Mother, though unknowing man, to Carmelites give privileges, star of the sea.)
While unfortunately, because of work commitments, I couldn't make it to Mass this morning at Carmel, I ask my Guardian Angel to attend in my place, worshipping God, honouring Our Lady, interceding for all, and procuring graces for me and all mine. May he visit the dear nuns there, and as an agent of the Deity, in concert with their angelic wardens, bestow upon them especial blessings on this sacred feast. God grant it!
What a joy for all Carmelites to rejoice in their Patroness, and to direct their gladness to their hope of salvation: for where Mary now is, there we all hope to follow. Wearing the habit of their Order, they are specially devoted to her service, having taken the yoke upon themselves that is at once that of service to Our Lord in the first place and secondarily to Our Lady, for the large scapular worn over their habits signifies this; for their lay associates, wearing the small brown scapular has a like meaning.
As any good Catholic should, I wear the Brown Scapular, to which I was long ago admitted; as the prayer says, thereby one is admitted to a share in the merits and prayers of all Carmelites - thanks be to God! - and, yet more, one trusts in the Blessed Virgin through this sign of filial consecration to obtain of the Lord the fulfilment of the well-known promises associated with pious use of this sacramental.
He who dies clothed in the Scapular shall not die eternally - this promise made, 'tis said, to St Simon Stock, the Church recognizes, clarifying it by repeating a like phrase in the proper Carmelite Preface of this feast, but inserting the adverb pie, "piously": for one who impiously wears the Scapular, thinking it a cloke for sin, and presuming on a free ticket to heaven, will be no beneficiary of the special intercession of the Holy Virgin.
How to understand this? We pray that by her all-prevailing prayer with her Son, Who fulfils the Commandment perfectly to honour His Father and His Mother, all who wear the Scapular, as a sign of their commitment to Christ through His Mother, may be converted by God's grace and brought to salvation. Is this not but an instance of God's own revealed will being fulfilled, since He would that all men be saved? Our Lady can in no wise pray save in conformity with the will of God: it were very madness to think otherwise.
Why do we commemorate the Blessed Virgin under this title? The simplest and original reason is that St Albert of Avogadro, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (d. 1214), who composed the Rule for the hermits on Mt Carmel to follow, counselled them therein to build a chapel in the midst of their lowly dwellings – and as is universally done out of Catholic piety, this was naturally dedicated to Our Lady, adding the name of the place: Mt Carmel.
Later ages saw the deeper significance of this: from Carmel's heights, having prayed and prayed again, St Elias saw a little cloud arising out the sea, bringing a prodigal rain to break the cruel drought tormenting Israel - and this is an apt symbol, image and type of Our Lady's coming forth as star of the sea, fulfilling all Israel's hopes and prayers down the ages, for she brought forth the Messias, Christ our God, thus bringing forth the very Incarnate Source of divine grace to a thirsty earth bereft of saving blessings. Our Lady thus shines forth on Carmel as Mother and Mediatrix.
The Collect in my Dominican Diurnal:
Deus, qui beatissimæ semper Virginis et Genetricis tuæ Mariæ singulari titulo Carmeli Ordinem decorasti: concede propitius ut, cujus hodie Commemorationem solemni celebramus officio, ejus muniti præsidiis ad gaudia sempiterna pervenire mereamur. Qui vivis...
O God, Who didst adorn the Order of Carmel with the unique title of the most blessed ever-Virgin Mary Thy Mother: propitiously concede that we, who with solemn office celebrate her commemoration to-day, may merit to attain to everlasting joys, strengthened by her protection. Who livest...