Message Of John Paul II To The Carmelite Family (new page)

On the 750th anniversary of the bestowal of the Scapular

To the Most Reverend Fathers
Joseph Chalmers
Prior General of the Order of Brothers
of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (O.Carm.)
Camilo Maccnise
Superior General of the Order of Discalced Brothers
of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (O.C.D.)

1. The providential event of grace, which the Jubilee Year has been for the Church, prompts her to look with trust and hope to the journey we have just begun in the new millennium."At the beginning of this new century", I wrote in the Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, "our steps must quicken.... On this journey we are accompanied by the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom ... I entrusted the third millennium" (n. 58).

I therefore learned with deep joy that the two branches of the Order of Carmel, the ancient and the reformed, intend to express their filial love for their Patroness by dedicating the year 2001 to her, invoked as the Flower of Carmel, Mother and Guide on the way of holiness. In this regard, I cannot fail to stress a happy coincidence: the celebration of this Marian year for the whole of Carmel is taking place, according to a venerable tradition of the Order itself, on the 750th anniversary of the bestowal of the Scapular. This celebration is therefore a marvellous occasion for the entire Carmelite Family to deepen not only its Marian spirituality, but to live it more and more in the light of the place which the Virgin Mother of God and of mankind holds in the mystery of Christ and the Church, and therefore to follow her who is the "Star of Evangelization" (cf. Novo millennio ineunte, n. 58).

2. In their journey towards the "mountain of God, Christ the Lord" (Roman Missal, Opening Prayer of the Mass in honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 16 July), the various generations of Carmel, from the beginning until today, have sought to model their lives on Marys example.
In Carmel therefore and in every soul moved by tender affection for the Blessed Virgin and Mother, there has thrived a contemplation of her, who from the beginning knew how to open herself to hearing Gods Word and to obeying his will (Lk 2: 19, 51). For Mary, taught and formed by the Spirit (cf. Lk 2: 44-50), was able by faith to understand her own history (cf. Lk 1: 46-55) and, docile to the divine promptings, "advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan (cf. Jn 19: 25), enduring with her Only-begotten Son the intensity of his suffering and associating herself with his sacrifice in her mothers heart" (Lumen gentium, n. 58).

3. Contemplation of the Virgin presents her to us as a loving Mother who sees her Son growing up in Nazareth (cf. Lk 2: 40, 52), follows him on the roads of Palestine, helps him at the wedding at Cana (cf. Jn 2: 5) and, at the foot of the Cross, becomes the Mother associated with his offering and given to all people when Jesus himself entrusts her to his beloved disciple (cf. Jn 19: 26). As Mother of the Church, the Blessed Virgin is one with the disciples in "constant prayer" (Acts 1: 14); as the new Woman who anticipates in herself what will one day come to pass for us all in the full enjoyment of Trinitarian life, she is taken up into heaven from where she spreads the protective mantle of her mercy over her children on their pilgrimage to the holy mountain of glory.

Such a contemplative attitude of mind and heart prompts admiration for the Virgins experience of faith and love; she already lives in herself all that every believer desires and hopes to attain in the mystery of Christ and the Church (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 103; Lumen gentium, n. 53).

Therefore, Carmelites have chosen Mary as their Patroness and spiritual Mother and always keep before the eyes of their heart the Most Pure Virgin who guides everyone to the perfect knowledge and imitation of Christ.

Thus an intimacy of spiritual relations has blossomed, leading to an ever increasing communion with Christ and Mary. For the members of the Carmelite Family, Mary, the Virgin Mother of God and mankind, is not only a model to imitate but also the sweet presence of a Mother and Sister in whom to confide. St Teresa of Jesus rightly urged her sisters: "Imitate Our Lady and consider how great she must be and what a good thing it is that we have her for our Patroness" (Interior Castle, III, 1, 3).

4. This intense Marian life, which is expressed in trusting prayer, enthusiastic praise and diligent imitation, enables us to understand how the most genuine form of devotion to the Blessed Virgin, expressed by the humble sign of the Scapular, is consecration to her Immaculate Heart (cf. Pius XII, Letter Neminem profecto latet [11 February 1950: AAS 42, 1950, pp. 390-391]; Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, n. 67). In this way, the heart grows in communion and familiarity with the Blessed Virgin, "as a new way of living for God and of continuing here on earth the love of Jesus the Son for his Mother Mary" (cf. Angelus Address, in Insegnamenti XI/3, 1988, p. 173). Thus, as the blessed Carmelite martyr Titus Brandsma expressed it, we are put in profound harmony with Mary the Theotokos and become, like her, transmitters of divine life: "The Lord also sends his angel to us ... we too must accept God in our hearts, carry him in our hearts, nourish him and make him grow in us so that he is born of us and lives with us as the God-with-us, Emmanuel" (From the report of Bl. Titus Brandsma to the Mariological Congress of Tongerloo, August 1936).

Over time this rich Marian heritage of Carmel has become, through the spread of the Holy Scapular devotion, a treasure for the whole Church. By its simplicity, its anthropological value and its relationship to Marys role in regard to the Church and humanity, this devotion was so deeply and widely accepted by the People of God that it came to be expressed in the memorial of 16 July on the liturgical calendar of the universal Church.

5. The sign of the Scapular points to an effective synthesis of Marian spirituality, which nourishes the devotion of believers and makes them sensitive to the Virgin Mothers loving presence in their lives. The Scapular is essentially a "habit". Those who receive it are associated more or less closely with the Order of Carmel and dedicate themselves to the service of Our Lady for the good of the whole Church (cf. "Formula of Enrolment in the Scapular", in the Rite of Blessing of and Enrolment in the Scapular, approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 5 January 1996). Those who wear the Scapular are thus brought into the land of Carmel, so that they may "eat its fruits and its good things" (cf. Jer 2: 7), and experience the loving and motherly presence of Mary in their daily commitment to be clothed in Jesus Christ and to manifest him in their life for the good of the Church and the whole of humanity (cf. "Formula of Enrolment in the Scapular", cit.).

Therefore two truths are evoked by the sign of the Scapular: on the one hand, the constant protection of the Blessed Virgin, not only on life’s journey, but also at the moment of passing into the fullness of eternal glory; on the other, the awareness that devotion to her cannot be limited to prayers and tributes in her honour on certain occasions, but must become a "habit", that is, a permanent orientation of ones own Christian conduct, woven of prayer and interior life, through frequent reception of the sacraments and the concrete practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. In this way the Scapular becomes a sign of the "covenant" and reciprocal communion between Mary and the faithful: indeed, it concretely translates the gift of his Mother, which Jesus gave on the Cross to John and, through him, to all of us, and the entrustment of the beloved Apostle and of us to her, who became our spiritual Mother.

6. A splendid example of this Marian spirituality, which inwardly moulds individuals and conforms them to Christ, the firstborn of many brethren, is the witness to holiness and wisdom given by so many Carmelite saints, all of whom grew up in the shadow and under the protection of their Mother.

I too have worn the Scapular of Carmel over my heart for a long time! Out of my love for our common heavenly Mother, whose protection I constantly experience, I hope that this Marian year will help all the men and women religious of Carmel and the devout faithful who venerate her with filial affection to grow in her love and to radiate to the world the presence of this Woman of silence and prayer, invoked as Mother of Mercy, Mother of Hope and Grace.

With these wishes, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing to all the friars, nuns, sisters and lay people of the Carmelite Family, who work so hard to spread among the people of God true devotion to Mary, Star of the Sea and Flower of Carmel!

From the Vatican, 25 March 2001.

Joannes Paulus II

Scapular Message of
Joseph Chalmers O.Carm Prior General
Camilo Maccise OCDSuperior General

OF JESUS (Acts 1:14)

  1. It was with great joy that we received the letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II on the place of Our Lady in Carmel. Inspired by the Popes message, we too want to share with you some reflections on the importance of Mary in Carmelite spirituality.

  2. The Virgin Mary, our Mother, Patroness and Sister, is certainly one of the great gifts we have received from God and share with the Church. She is an essential part of our heritage. There is a widespread concern in all branches of our Carmelite Family to renew the theology and spirituality, devotion and love of Mary. For many centuries our devotion to and love for her has been centred in the Brown Scapular of Carmel. Our older friars and sisters will recall the celebration in 1951 of the 700th anniversary of the Scapular, marked by a warm commendation of Pope Pius XII in the letter he sent to the Superiors General of the Orders, Neminem profecto latet. It is fitting that fifty years later we should again reflect on Marys gifts to Carmel and ponder their meaning for ourselves and for the Church today.

  3. We are very conscious of the diffusion of Carmel worldwide. It is firmly established in five continents each with its own history and culture. Clearly the way in which the Mother of God is understood, preached and shared with Gods people will vary from one country to another, just as in the past it has been diverse from one century to another. We recognise that we can only give some central insights and directions, leaving to others the task of reflecting on our heritage in their own particular culture and of sharing it in the local Church.

A heritage in Dialogue

  1. "Generations of Carmelites, from the beginnings up to today, ..... have sought to model their lives after the example of Mary"(1). Each generation has the responsibility not only of living Carmels heritage but also of enriching it and passing it on. A heritage is something living that must be exposed to the real world and presented in the actual experience of the Church. Carmelite life must be in constant dialogue with the present and with the past. The riches of our tradition must indeed be preserved but in such a way that they are found to be relevant and meaningful for the present. We invite all Carmelites to take the opportunity of revisiting our past but with questions that come from our reading of the signs of the times and the places.


  1. Carmel looks upon Mary as Mother, Patroness, Sister and Model, the last being particularly associated with the understanding of Mary as the Most Pure Virgin. These are not just titles or devotional themes. In some way they reflect the experience of the Carmelite Orders over many centuries. We invite all Carmelites to look again at the testimony of those who have gone before us and ponder how these riches might be shared among ourselves and with the wider community.


  1. When the early Carmelites came first to Europe, the idea of Mary as spiritual mother had been generally accepted following the sermons of the Cistercian Guerric dIgny (d. 1157). The Carmelites readily took up this theme invoking her as their Mother and the Virgin, as in the Flos Carmeli: "Mother most tender, whom no man didst know"(2). Already in the word "Mother" there is a key idea in our heritage, namely relationship with Mary­in this case as her sons and daughters. The title of Mother was much favoured in the Order, with the title "Mother and beauty of Carmel," echoing Isaiah 35:2, being used in the liturgy from the late medieval period.

  2. Carmelite saints have all taken up this theme of Mary as mother(3). St Therese of Lisieux memorably stated: "She is more Mother that Queen"(4). For many centuries the Carmelite liturgy has shown special affection for the Gospel scene at the foot of the Cross (Jn 19:25-27) where Mary, "became the Mother of all, associated with the offering of her Son and given to all people when Jesus Himself gave Her to the beloved disciple"(5).

  3. Seeing Mary as Mother we are encouraged to reflect on our relationship with her: she cares for us as Mother; we love and respect her as sons and daughters. Moreover, in viewing Mary as our Mother, we are pointed towards her Divine Son in whose allegiance we live(6). From early times the Fathers of the Church have seen that a correct Mariology serves to guarantee a correct Christology.

  4. Our vision of Mary as Mother and Beauty of Carmel can be an important offering to the whole Church. Over a quarter of a century ago, Pope Paul VI invited theologians to look at the way of beauty as an authentic approach to Mary(7). In a world with so much distress and ugliness we are invited to look upwards and to relax in the contemplation of Marys beauty, for she is Gods "sign of favour to the Church at its beginning, and the promise of its perfection as the bride of Christ, radiant in beauty"(8). We encourage our theologians to reflect more on this rather neglected area of Carmelite Mariology.


  1. The title Patroness of Carmel has a long history in the Order. The dedication to Mary of the first chapel on Mount Carmel in the midst of the cells is certainly an indication of her patronage, which in feudal times indicated reciprocal relations and services. From its coming to Europe, beginning about 1230 and for 150 year afterwards, Carmel had a somewhat precarious existence. During that period the friars learned to trust in Marys help and protection. The very survival of the Order was entrusted to her, and the brothers felt confident of her protection and care. By the closing decades of the thirteenth century we find the idea that the Carmelite Order was especially founded for the honour and glory of Mary(9).

  2. Even if the language of patronage may not find immediate echoes in some of the cultures in which Carmel is now planted, the reality is part of our rich Marian life. Patronage implies a reciprocal relationship. We are aware of Marys care for the Church, for Carmel, and for ourselves. Such truths are for us a source of confidence and hope. But patronage reminds us of our response: we are to reverence, serve and love our Mother and Patroness. The earliest constitutions of which copies are extant(10) and ordinals(11) are very specific in showing ways to honour Mary through gestures, prayers and celebrations(12). We have from the 13th century the frequent recitation of the antiphons, Salve Regina and Ave Maris Stella(13). Soon the Saturday Station would have a pre-eminent place among Marian devotions of the Order. In the medieval period there was also the practice of celebrating many votive Masses in her honour. All of these are indications of ways in which Carmelites honoured their Patroness.

  3. A challenge for local communities will be to find suitable expressions of their relationship to Mary for themselves and for others in the Church. In this way, the reality of patronage, if not the word itself, will be enhanced for our times.


  1. When the hermit brothers came to Europe from Mount Carmel, they were called by the people and referred to by Popes as the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Though this in the beginning would have signified their origin, and other orders at the time also saw themselves as Marys brothers, Carmelites in time sought to draw from their title the fact that if they are brothers of Mary, she is surely their Sister. Arnold Bostius (d. 1499) who synthesised our early tradition wrote: "The humble brother of Carmel can exult and sing with joy: See! The Queen of Heaven [is] my sister; I can act with confidence and without fear"(14).

  2. Though Sister would never be so widely used as the titles of Mother and Patroness, it is important to note that Pope Paul VI used it, when he spoke of all of us being children of Adam having Mary as Sister(15). The title would seem to have three great advantages for contemporary Carmelite reflection. It catches the idea, which lies also in Patroness, of Marys tender care and of easy and intimate relationships between Carmelites and the Mother of God. It presents Mary as our elder sister who goes before us on the journey to maturity in faith. Moreover, in certain cultures the idea of Mary as Spiritual Mother is difficult for some people; the title of Mary as Sister can be more attractive for them. Marys sisterhood is an insight that can be shared with the wider Church.

Model and Most Pure Virgin

  1. The notion of Mary as model of discipleship is very ancient in the Church. It is found in all eras of Carmels history. Our ancient and modern authors seek to show that Mary is model precisely of our Carmelite life. Thus John Baconthorpe (d. ca. 1348) wrote a commentary on the Carmelite Rule in which he drew out the similarity between the life of Mary and that of the Carmelite(16). In time this consciousness of the bond between Mary and Carmel developed in artistic representations, so that Mary is depicted as clothed in a Carmelite habit.

  2. Mary is the exemplar of the Carmelite especially as the Most Pure Virgin­Virgo Purissima. We possess abundant reflection on this title. The white cloak is a sign of our imitation of Mary. The well-known dedication of Carmelites to the Immaculate Conception and their defence of this truth are also part of Carmels love of the Virgin. But her purity is not narrowly restricted to chastity or celibacy. Mary is the pure one, of an undivided heart, total openness to God (the supreme model of vacare Deo). Indeed the double aim of Carmel as expressed in the ancient document of The Institute of the First Monks can find in Mary its fullest realisation(17).

  3. There are countless Carmelite texts that show Mary as the perfect mirror of its contemplative ideal and as model of docility to the Holy Spirit(18).

  4. For Bl. Titus Brandsma: Mary is the exemplar of all the virtues and is therefore twice our Mother. Her life is a mirror in which we can see how we ought to unite ourselves with God(19).

  5. The time since Vatican II has been one in which we have been encouraged to seek a devotion to Mary that is firmly based on the Sacred Scripture(20). If in the past, Carmelite writers and preachers were too prone to focus on the miraculous and extraordinary, we have also in our living tradition a sobriety that enables us to give our contemporaries a vital, and above all scriptural image of Mary. St Therese of Lisieux was not at all attracted by thoughts of Mary, which were not grounded in truth. Had she been able to preach one sermon on Mary she says, "Id first make people understand how little is known by us about her life"(21). She had shortly before that given her profound thoughts on Mary in her poem, "Why I love you, O Mary"(22) which ponders lovingly her life as described to us in the Scriptures.

  6. The core Carmelite themes that we have been considering are very important for a proper understanding of the Carmelite Scapular to which we now turn.


  1. Any revitalisation of the Carmelite Scapular demands that we consider it within the wider context of Carmels relationship with Mary. According to our saints what is important is a personal intimacy with the Mother of God and a commitment to take her as the model of Christian discipleship. The main themes of Mother, Patroness, Sister and Exemplar, can bring us to a deeper knowledge of Mary and to a more profound relationship with her. Only from this perspective can the Scapular be assumed as a sign that favours spiritual growth in Christian life.

Origins of the Scapular

  1. Historical scholarship on every aspect of the Scapular must continue in our Orders. However, irrespective of whatever future finding may be made, we can, and indeed must, be confident about the value of this ancient symbol, based on a venerable tradition(23). What Carmelites must do is to find a way of presenting the Scapular for those who feel convinced about the historicity of the vision and for those who do not find the historical evidence compelling. The central truth of the vision story is the lived experience of Carmel: Mary, its Patroness, has protected it and ensured its perseverance; Marys prayers are powerful in securing eternal life.

1. A sacramental of the Church and a sacred sign

  1. The chief act of the institutional Church with regard to the Scapular is its approval throughout the centuries including the most recent "Rite for the Blessing and Enrolment in the Scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel"(24). With the spiritual meaning of the "graces attached to the Scapular" there are also "the obligations assumed through this sign of devotion to the holy Virgin"(25). "Devotion towards Our Lady cannot be limited to the occasional prayer in her honour, but must become a habit that is a permanent way of Christian living, made up of prayer and the interior life, frequent recourse to the Sacraments and the concrete exercises of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy"(26).

  2. Sacramentals are described as sacred signs; they belong therefore to the world of symbol and meaning. In our contemporary society it is common to say that there is a crisis of religious symbolism; at the same time our societies can be powerfully moved by secular symbolism. National flags, for instance, speak profoundly to many people. Symbols are material things or images that point to a meaning beyond themselves. Very often their meaning or suggestiveness lies in their power to speak to us at various levels: they not only communicate some information, but they touch us at the level of feeling. In symbols we can find both growth and decay. Religious symbols can degenerate into magic, if their spiritual or theological meaning is no longer communicated; they are thereby reduced into something like a charm that might bring good luck.

  3. Living symbols need continual revitalisation. There would seem to be four stages in the life of a symbol. There is an engendering experience, which gives rise to the symbol. For us this involved the sense of Marys protection of Carmelites and the power of her intercession for our salvation. Secondly, there is a phase of dogma or reflection on the symbol. Carmel saw the Scapular largely in terms of its understanding of Mary as Patroness, the one who cared for her Brothers, who in turn served her. In this reflective period, Marys caring was understood to extend beyond death and to be seen especially in her solicitude for our salvation and for our speedy deliverance from Purgatory. A third stage in the life of symbols in found when contact is lost with the original experience. At this time either the symbol is ignored or is met with scepticism, whilst other people hold on blindly to the symbol in a kind of fideism, which does not attend to its origin or meaning. This last stage can be very close to magic. What is then needed at a time of scepticism or fideism is a reflective reconstruction of the symbol. This fourth stage is a task for every generation. We need to see the Scapular within the whole of Carmelite spirituality, and especially in relation to the core Marian themes.

  4. In particular such reflection and reconstruction of the Scapular symbol implies that we think out and make our own the fact that Mary is our Patroness, who cares for us as Mother and Sister. Our Mother nurtures the divine life within us and teaches us the way to God. Our Sister walks with us in the journey of transformation, inviting us to make ours her own response, "Oh let what you have said be done to me" (Luke 1.38). But Patronage is a two-way relationship. We receive Marys care; in turn we are called upon to imitate her and to honour her through fidelity to her Son.

The Habit of Mary

  1. The Scapular is essentially a "habit". Those who receive it are aggregated or associated in varying degrees with Carmel that is dedicated to the service of Our Lady for the good of the whole Church(27). We can deepen our appreciation for this gift by reflecting on the meaning of garments and clothing in Scripture. We need clothing for protection against the elements (see Sir 29:21); it is a blessing from God (see Deut 10:18; Matt 6:28-30); it symbolises all Gods promises of restoration (see Bar 5:1-4). Ultimately we are to be clothed with immortality (see 2 Cor 5:3-4). But in the meantime we are to be clothed in newness (see Col 3:10); indeed we are to put on Christ (see Rom 13:14). From our Rule we should remember that we are to be clothed with the armour of God(28). This armour is almost totally defensive, the only offensive weapon being the sword of the Word of God (see Eph 6:17). The Scapular seen as garment thus recalls our baptismal clothing in Christ, our dignity as members of Marys Carmel and our invulnerability when we are wearing Gods armour.

  2. In order to appreciate the Scapular it is necessary to look back at our tradition and to look around us and consider contemporary sensibilities and cultural constituents. The garment of Mary is a rich theme in the spirituality of both the Eastern and Western Churches. The veil or mantle of Mary in the East is a sign of her protection; the habit of Mary is a sign of belonging to her in the West. Both are combined in the reflection of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross­Edith Stein. She speaks of "the holy habit of the Mother of God, the brown scapular" and says that on the 16th July "we give thanks that our dear Lady has clothed us with the garment of salvation", a "visible sign of her motherly protection"(29). St Teresa of Jesus refers several times to "the habit of Mary"(30). She delights in telling of the entrapment of Fr Gracián by the Virgin who give him her habit(31), and she remarks, "It is her custom to favour those who want to be protected by her"(32).

  3. From her acute awareness that the habit of Carmel is Marys, St Teresa of Jesus draws out the concrete implications for the lives of its members, e.g. "All of us who wear this holy habit of Carmel are called to prayer and contemplation"(33) and humility(34). It would be easy to multiply such references to the Carmelite habit by the saints and spiritual writers of Carmel(35).

  4. Our tradition shows the firmest conviction that the habit and the Scapular have no salvific effect unless we see their meaning as Marys habit which affiliates us to the Carmelite Family, and we live according to her example. The central truths to be pondered include Marys protection, her intercession at the time of our death and beyond it. On our part there is need for a filial relationship, or one that expresses our being her brothers and sisters and devoted to her service for the glory of her Son. The Scapular is a sign that draws us into such relationships.

  5. In the modern context, Mary shows us how to listen to the Word of God in Scripture and in life itself, how to be open to God and close to the needs of our brothers and sisters in a world where poverty in its many forms takes their dignity away. Mary further shows us the womans path to God and stands with us as a woman who is the icon of the tenderness of God, a woman who had to face many trials in order to fulfil the vocation given to her by God(36). She remains as the sign of freedom and liberation for all who in their oppression cry to God(37). The Scapular on our part is an expression of our confidence in Marys care. It shows our willingness to witness to our baptismal adoption and to being her sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as well as our desire to be clothed with her virtues, with her contemplative spirit and with her purity of heart. Thus clothed by her, we, like her, ponder the Word and show ourselves to be disciples of her Son in our dedication to the works of Gods Reign: truth and life, holiness and grace, justice, love and peace(38

The Popes & the Brown Scapular

Pope Leo XIII: “The Carmelite Scapular’s nobility of origin, its extraordinary spread among Christian peoples for many centuries, the spiritualizing effects produced by it and the outstanding miracles worked in virtue of it render the Scapular of Carmel commendable to a wondrous degree.”

Pope Pius XI: “In consideration of the munificent goodness of the heavenly Mother towards her children, it surely ought to be sufficient merely to exhort those who belong to the Scapular Confraternity to persevere in the holy exercises which have been prescribed for the gaining of the indulgences to which they are entitled.”

Pope Pius XII: “All Carmelites, whether they live in the cloisters of the First or Second Orders or are members of the Third Order or of the Confraternities, belong to the same family of our Most Blessed Mother and are attached to it by a special bond of love. May they all see in this keepsake of the Virgin herself a mirror of humility and purity; may they read in the very simplicity of the Garment a concise lesson in modesty and simplicity; above all, may they behold in this same Garment, which they wear day and night, the eloquent expressive symbol of their prayers for divine assistance.”

Pope St John XXIII: He spoke “of the Mother of God who is honoured in this Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Devotion to her becomes a necessity; towards Our Lady of Mount Carmel we are drawn with a most tender, yet irresistible, attraction.”

Pope Paul VI, speaking of Marian devotions, especially of the Scapular, says “Let the faithful hold in high esteem the practices and devotions to the Blessed Virgin approved by the teaching authority of the Church. It is Our conviction that the Rosary of Mary and the Scapular of Carmel are among these recommended practices. The Scapular is a practice of piety, which by its very simplicity is suited to everyone.”

Pope St John Paul II: 'Carmelites have chosen Mary as their Patroness and spiritual Mother and always keep before the eyes of their heart the Most Pure Virgin who guides everyone to the perfect knowledge and imitation of Christ.

Thus an intimacy of spiritual relations has blossomed, leading to an ever increasing communion with Christ and Mary. For the members of the Carmelite Family, Mary, the Virgin Mother of God and mankind, is not only a model to imitate but also the sweet presence of a Mother and Sister in whom to confide. St Teresa of Jesus rightly urged her sisters: "Imitate Our Lady and consider how great she must be and what a good thing it is that we have her for our Patroness"

This intense Marian life, which is expressed in trusting prayer, enthusiastic praise and diligent imitation, enables us to understand how the most genuine form of devotion to the Blessed Virgin, expressed by the humble sign of the Scapular, is consecration to her Immaculate Heart.  In this way, the heart grows in communion and familiarity with the Blessed Virgin, "as a new way of living for God and of continuing here on earth the love of Jesus the Son for his Mother Mary"' 



‘Let nothing disturb you, let nothing dismay you:  all things pass; God never changes.  Patience attains all that it strives for.  He who has God finds he lacks nothing.  God alone suffices.’

‘Prayer is nothing more than an intimate conversation between friends.’

‘I tried as hard as I could to keep Jesus Christ, our God & our Lord present within me, & that was my way of prayer.’

‘Prayer is an exercise of love, & it would be incorrect to think that if there is no time for solitude there is no time for prayer.’

‘Christ is a very good friend because we behold him as a man & see him with weaknesses & trials - & he is company to us.’

‘Nothing is impossible when our Lord wants it.’

‘The soul’s progress does not lie in thinking much but in loving much.’

‘If you should fall at times don’t be discouraged & stop striving to advance.  For even from this fall God will draw out good.’

‘If we fail in love of neighbour we are lost ... beg our Lord to give you this perfect love of neighbour.’

‘The reason for prayer … is the birth of good works.’

‘For love begets love. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to waken ourselves to love.’

‘The Lord is the one through whom all blessings come to us. He will teach us all things. In beholding his life we find he is the best example’

‘Whoever lives in the presence of so good a friend and excellent a leader as in Jesus Christ can endure all things’ 

‘Look for Christ Our Lord in everyone and you will then have respect and reverence for all.’