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Our Lady of Mount Carmel

16 Jul

Our Lady of Mount CarmelToday the Church celebrates the memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The beauty of Mount Carmel was praised in the Old Testament, where it is compared to the beauty of the bride in Solomon’s song (Song of Songs 7:2-6). It is also the site where the prophet Elijah defended the purity of Israel’s faith in the living God (see 1 Kings 18).

Caves in Mount Carmel provided shelter for monks through the ages, where a monastery was built dedicated to Our Lady under the title Stella Maris (“Star of the Sea”). In the twelfth century, hermits withdrew to that mountain and later founded the Carmelite order devoted to the contemplative life under the patronage of Mary, the holy Mother of God. Famous Carmelites include St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of the Child Jesus (better known as St. Therese of Lisieux, or the “Little Flower”).

Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is now worldwide, and many Catholics are familiar with the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, also known as the Brown Scapular. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251, and gave him the scapular with the following words, which are preserved in a fourteenth century narrative: “This will be for you and for all Carmelites the privilege, that he who dies in this will not suffer eternal fire.” The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was instituted for the Carmelites in 1332, and extended to the whole Church by Benedict XIII in 1726.

It’s a special day for me, too. Twenty-three years ago I resolved to ask Miss Maureen Prout to marry me on the next Marian feast day. Since it was mid-summer at the time, the next Marian feast was July 16th, Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

As it turned out, the memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel that year fell on a Monday, and I wanted to ask her on a Saturday when neither of us had to work. So I actually proposed on July 14th, the feast of Blessed (now Saint) Kateri Tekakwitha. But Maureen and I—who incidentally did get married about six months later, on February 2nd, the feast of the Presentation—decided that we would always consider July 16th as the anniversary of our engagement.

May Our Lady of Mount Carmel continue to intercede for us and for our beautiful family.