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The Brown Scapular

From The Vigil May - December 1988

"All her charges are doubly clothed." (Prov. 31:21)

"Receive, my dear son, the Scapular which I present to you and to your whole order; it is by this that I wish you to be recognized in the future as my kindred, my brothers; it is a sign of predestination, a token of peace and of an eternal covenant. Whosoever has the good fortune to die with this mark of my love shall not suffer eternal fire." (see conditions)

Conditions for the Brown Scapular Promises of our lady of Mt. Carmel.

  1. To be enrolled in the Scapular Confraternity once, and to wear the scapular at all times;
  2. To be pure, observing the 6th and 9th commandments.
  3. To perform some practice in honor of Mary which an authorized priest will assign you
  • A 500 days Indulgence is granted each time the Scapular is kissed

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori was born near Naples on September 27, 1696. His spiritual training was entrusted to the fathers of the oratory of that city, and from his boyhood Alphonsus was a most devout brother of the little oratory. By the time he was sixteen, he had earned doctorates in both Church and Civil Law, and he became a distinguished attorney. However, after losing an important case through a mistake, he became determined to abandon his career and to live only for the glory of God. He entered the priesthood in 1726, devoting himself to the most neglected and spiritually abandoned people. In order to carry on this work he later founded the "Congregation of The most Holy Redeemer" more commonly known as "The Redemptorists Fathers."

St Alphonsus was also a very skilled theologian and a prodigious writer. Besides involving himself in a strenuous preaching apostolate, he wrote scores of books ranging from short, spiritual treatises about the Blessed Sacrament, to the "The Glories of Mary", to lengthy, learned publications on moral theology, of which he is considered a master, in order to help priests guide penitents in the confessional. His writings are of such learning and wisdom that he was declared a "Doctor of the Church" on March 23, 1871, yet he said of his own preaching that he had "Never preached a sermon which the simplest old woman in the congregation could not understand."

At the age of sixty-six he became bishop of the diocese of St. Agatha of the Goths, in southern Italy, and undertook with great zeal the reform of his diocese which was in a shocking state. He lived in evil times, and faced many persecutions and disappointments, especially in connection with the development of his own congregation.

After thirteen years as bishop, he returned to his Redemptorist confreres to live out his final years in great physical suffering ( he was crippled by arthritis) and even greater spiritual desolation (at one point he was even expelled from his own congregation). The very bitter spiritual trials he endured were followed by a corresponding spiritual light, and he died peacefully in 1787. He was canonized on May 26, 1839, and has also been named Patron of Confessors and Theologians. His feastday is observed on August 1st.

All during his long life, St. Alphonsus saw the importance of preaching the gospel, of the infinite love of God for souls as revealed in and through Jesus and the church.

The other lifelong passion that he so clearly defined in his volumes of the "The Glories of Mary," (which we strongly recommend and is obtainable form: O.B.L. Victory Mission, R.R. #2, Box 25, Brookings, S.D. 57006) was his very great love and devotion for our Blessed Mother. He drives home the unmistakeable point of her motherly love and powerful intercession with her divine son, Jesus, on our behalf, that is, for anyone who "sincerely" asks for her help. She obtains for us at the hour of our death the final grace of repentance even for the most "wretched" of all sinners.

St. Alphonsus, as brilliant as he was, expressed himself in the simplest terms all the while advocating the value of the simplest tools given by God and our blessed mother for our spiritual welfare, namely the holy rosary and the brown scapular. The woolen scapular that St. Alphonsus wore in life while at the same time promoting and defending vigorously the authenticity of the promises attached to it was found intact, when his body was exhumed for his canonization. Yet everything else in his tomb had rotted away. Only the saint's skeleton with his scapular remained.

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