REALITY CHECK (jul16rea.htm)

July 16, 2011
vol 22, no. 197

The Brown Scapular is Not a Good Luck Charm

"Because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation"
(St. Luke 19: 44)

Ava Bell

    We've all heard the axiom, "there but for the grace of God go I", but how many of us really understand this? Today's guest contributor, now a committed Traditional Catholic, relates how this hit home for her in her earlier days before her awakening, if you will, in the same manner that Saint Augustine wrote about when confiding his past sins in his landmark book "Confessions." Her experience is pertinent for our times, especially in this day and age when so many worship at the altar of the world, the flesh and the devil, not really thinking about each's own visitation when each one of us will stand before God at his or her Particular Judgment. Ava ties in the theme of this past Sunday's Gospel, the visitation of the Mother of God to the children of Fatima, and the significance of our Lady's promise for those who wear her Brown Scapular. Yes, it is most pertinent for this era, for this very week and day. While hordes of clueless Catholics with hormones at a peak gather for the conciliar version of Woodstock: Worldy Youth Days in Sydney this week, she presents a sobering story that should shake the timbers of our souls and wake the echoes of those who assume security when, in truth, there is only one way to secure eternal salvation and no amount of superstitions will stay the inevitable truth that for any sacramental to be effective, the one receiving it must be of good will and open to the grace of God, specifically Sanctifying Grace. Without this protection, all else is futile, fateful.

    Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. We've heard many stories about the Virgin Mary's visits to St. Simon Stock, but many misunderstand the conditions of wearing the Brown Scapular.

    The purpose of this article is to help people avoid making costly mistakes due to a false understanding of things sacred or due to a false sense of security. It also is apropos since this past Sunday was the 91st anniversary of Our Lady's apparition at Fatima in July of 1917 when she showed the three children what hell was like. Both the Brown Scapular and the reality of hell will come into play in this article.

    In addition, the Gospel from this past Sunday (Ninth Sunday after Pentecost) is so powerful and I am living proof of this. The motivation for writing this article stems from my constant witness of how willfully blind so many, even among the best of traditional Catholics, can be. I include myself amongst the blind. Only through the merciful grace of God can I now see how dense I was.

    I grew up always believing in God but during my younger years my lifestyle was not conducive to that belief. I'm sure I'm not alone. Today's society has made it incredibly easy for the devil to trap us in addictive lifestyles that put one on a secure path to Hell.

    Sadly, I was caught in the trap of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll that is so alluring to the last few generations just as the forbidden fruit must have been to Eve and then Adam. Like the original pair I knew what I was doing was wrong but I would do it anyway while thinking that there was always time to be forgiven. What, me worry? Dying was the last thing on my mind.

    Little did I truly realize that satan's job is to get us to start a bad habit. Once that habit is formed his job is done. Why? Because we usually do the rest of the work for him while we try to "justify" and "rationalize" away our soul with one pathetic excuse after another for the mortally sinful acts we commit time and time again.

    This article is about a person who was very spoiled throughout his entire life. Such a state can happen in a variety of ways. In the person I'm referring to, it was instigated by his parents for they gave him whatever he wanted and seemed to prefer to die rather than to allow their poor child to be agitated about anything. Then again, perhaps better put they just preferred not to hear his complaining and gave him what he wanted to shut him up.

    The truth is that parents, who want to be friends with their children without being disciplinarians, are no friend at all. This is only too evident to parents who cave in to their child's every whim for the sake of convenience because they come to find that such actions are not convenient at all. This will play out again and again when their offspring will be constantly dealing with teachers and police officers and expect the same easy-going treatment they got from their lax parents. It won't work and said authorities will have problems with their child.

    This young man, who must share the blame for the evils he committed with his parents, always, lived his life at odds with God. He was a baptized Catholic and traditional (authentically Catholic) in the intellect though not so much in his will. Despite this, he was a very miserable being on this earth and was never satisfied in any aspect of his life. One can say he just never grew up.

    Though he wore the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, he lived a life mocking GOD, which is to say that he continued to live life as if there wasn't a GOD or a Hell.

    This periodic child of God had health issues which were not conducive to the partying lifestyle which, of course, meant that he partied like there was no tomorrow - eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die AND GO TO. . ?

    There is the crux. I always wondered why the people that make that statement seem to halt before concluding with the logical continuation of that familiar statement.

    Well this young man called his girlfriend so that they could get together and get as drunk as possible. Before they arrived at their party destination they happened upon a small Catholic church which was just one of many actual graces God was sending their way.

    In fact, this particular grace seemed to hit the young man as he discussed perhaps going to Confession that afternoon.

    Unfortunately, after the couple started drinking, the thought of going to the Sacrament of Penance left their minds.

    There are things that happened with this man that his girlfriend will never forget until her dying day, such as what this fellow said to her in the days leading up to his death.

    That Saturday they went drinking she remembers she hadn't seen him for most of the week and thought, "only God knows what he was up too!" She remembers that he said that he really needed to go to confession. He also said something that his girlfriend will probably remember 'til her dying day: "I would rather a Priest get mad at me rather than GOD get mad at me."

    Before I share the rest of the facts of this story I would like to elaborate upon some issues related to this account that I have recently learned as I continue to study the faith with my devoted (devoted to the faith and to me) husband.

    Though I have been a true Catholic for most of this decade it was not until a couple years ago, with the help of my husband, that I came to embrace the fact of sedevacantism. The topic of sedevacantism is not the topic of this article however, yet it has been an area that has shown me how willfully blind and intellectually dishonest those who call themselves traditional Catholics can be.

    The hardest part about embracing the truth about the fact that our Church cannot be built upon a manifest heretic is the disappointment I realize when I come across the stunning blindness of the most devoted of traditional Catholics. They cannot even begin to defend their anti-sedevacantist position and they look foolish and know it when they debate me on the topic but still cannot embrace what I must suppose is a most uncomfortable truth for them. I know it was a shock to my system when I first pondered such a possibility.

    When debating these otherwise comparatively knowledgeable and seemingly devoted Catholics on the issue, I could liken it to pointing out a scenario of an elephant that happens to be walking by our window.

    They too will visibly see the elephant and watch as it is passing by. But if I should come out and say there is an elephant out there, their response would be: "that can't be an elephant as there is no zoo for over 70 miles around here." They will say this as they are looking right at the elephant!

    My husband tries to console me when I am feeling down about how obstinate people are in their convenient blindness by saying; "You can lead a 'mule' to water but you can't make him drink." He reassures me by reminding me that I have done all I can do and that I should just leave it in God's hands now and that the heaviest cross we sometimes carry are the ones we give ourselves.

    Truth be told, my most confounding cross many times, when considering the complete willful blindness of others, is my head. My husband says not to worry about things that you cannot control and I know he is right.

    But at the same time I also know there is a hell and that people go there and that willful blindness does not save, but can do rather quite the opposite. It bothers me that souls are on the path to hell and refuse to smell the manure even when their face is rubbed in it.

    But I know that only those go to hell who deserve to go there because it would be against God's justice to let them get away with avoiding that "inconvenient truth." I also know that, if I am fortunate enough to make it to Heaven, I will not be sorrowful, to the point of not being happy in Heaven because of the blind souls that spend eternity in hell because I will know with greater clarity that they are precisely where they belong by their own choice.

    The Blessed Mother showed vividly what horrific terror awaits those in hell. The visionary Lucia dos Santos, when she was professed as a Dorothean nun with the religious name of Sister Marie of the Sorrows, wrote of the terrible reality that there is indeed a place of eternal damnation. If only more could understand this, they would hopefully turn from their sinful ways and repent, not put off going to confession. Consider Lucia's vivid and shocking description:

    "She opened Her hands once more, as She had done the two previous months. The rays [of light] appeared to penetrate the earth, and we saw, as it were, a vast sea of fire. Plunged in this fire, we saw the demons and the souls [of the damned]. The latter were like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, having human forms. They were floating about in that conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames which issued from within themselves, together with great clouds of smoke. Now they fell back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fright (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons were distinguished [from the souls of the damned] by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. That vision only lasted for a moment, thanks to our good Heavenly Mother, Who at the first apparition had promised to take us to Heaven. Without that, I think that we would have died of terror and fear."

    If that doesn't scare you straight, nothing will. And, speaking of hell and ignorance of the issue, I should now like to address the topic of this article which centers on the Brown Scapular promise.

    Here I hope to share another truth that people will not blindly ignore. That is for all to realize that the Brown Scapular does not automatically save a person.

    This is another one of those things like sedevacantism that should be obvious but is not because we have been brainwashed by satan and his Novus Ordo instruments to believe the damning lie once again. Just as a heretic cannot be pope so the Brown Scapular does not wash away your mortal sins at death.

    Some will say, as did I, "but the Scapular says right on it 'those who die wearing this cloth will not suffer eternal fire.'" And so it does but are we to believe that our Lady gave us a pseudo-sacrament much like the Fundamental protestants have? ...where they believe they are automatically saved just by accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior or just as some pseudo-Catholics believe that people practicing false religions can desire their way onto the Ark of Salvation?

    The answer to those questions would be in the negative as I should like to share with you why this is so. It begins with the "Sabbatine Privilege" where I have included below the information from I have made bold certain parts for emphasis:

    Sabbatine Privilege
    The name Sabbatine Privilege is derived from the apocryphal Bull "Sacratissimo uti culmine" of John XXII, 3 March, 1322. In this Bull the pope is made to declare that the Mother of God appeared to him, and most urgently recommended to him the Carmelite Order and its confratres and consorores. The Blessed Virgin asked that John, as Christ's representative on earth, should ratify the indulgences which He had already granted in Heaven (a plenary indulgence for the members of the Carmelite Order and a partial indulgence, remitting the third part of the temporal punishment due to their sins, for the members of the confraternity); she herself would graciously descend on the Saturday (Sabbath after their death and liberate and conduct to Heaven all who were in Purgatory. Then follow the conditions which the confratres and consorores must fulfill. At the end of the Bull the pope declares:

      Istam ergo sanctam Indulgentiam accepto, roboro et in terris confirmo, sicut, propter merita Virginis Matris, gratiose Jesus Christus concessit in coelis

      (This holy indulgence I therefore accept; I confirm and ratify it on earth, just as Jesus Christ has graciously granted it in heaven on account of the merits of the Virgin Mother).

    Our first information of this Bull is derived from a work of the Carmelite Balduinus Leersius ("Collectaneum exemplorum et miraculorum" in "Bibliotheca Carmelit.", I, Orléans, 1752, p. 210), who died in 1483. The authenticity of the Bull was keenly contested especially in the seventeenth century, but was vigorously defended by the Carmelites. The chief opponents of its authenticity were Joannnes Launoy and the Bollandist, Daniel Papebroch, both of whom published works against it. Today it is universally regarded by scholars as inauthentic, even the "Monumenta histor. Carmel." of the Carmelite B. Zimmerman (I, Lérins, 1907, pp. 356-63) joining in rejecting it. In 1379, in consequence of the hostility still shown to their order and especially to its name, the Carmelites besought Urban VI to grant an indulgence of 3 years and 3 quarantines to all the faithful who designated them and their order "Ordinem et Fratres B. Mariae Genetricis Dei de Monte Carmeli" (Bullar. Carmelit. I, 141); this was granted by Urban on 26 April, 1379. It is difficult to understand why, instead of asking for this indulgence, they did not appeal to the old promise and the recent "Bulla sabbatina", if the scapular was then known and the promise to St. Simon Stock and this Bull were genuine and incontestable. While the Bull of John XXII was ratified by some later popes in the sixteenth century (cf. Bullar. Carmelit., II, 47, 141), neither the Bull itself in its wording nor its general contents were thereby declared authentic and genuine. On the contrary, the ratification by Gregory XIII on 18 September, 1577 (Bullar. Carmelit., II, 196), must be interpreted quite in the sense of the later Decree of the Holy Office. This Decree, which appeared in 1613, expresses no opinion concerning the genuineness of the Bull, but confines itself to declaring what the Carmelites may preach of its contents. The Bull forbids the painting of pictures representing, in accordance with the wording of the Bull, the Mother of God descending into purgatory (cum descensione beatae Virginis ad animas in Purgatorio liberandas). It must be also remembered that the latest authentic summary of indulgences of the Carmelite Order of 31 July, 1907 (Acta S. Sedis, XL, 753 sqq.), approved by the Congregation of Indulgences, says nothing either of the Bull of John XXII, of the indulgences granted by him, or of the Sabbatine privilege of the Carmelites. To learn the meaning and importance of the Sabbatine privilege, we may turn only to the above-mentioned Decree of the Holy Office. It was inserted in its entirety (except for the words forbidding the painting of the pictures) into the list of the indulgences and privileges of the Confraternity of the Scapular of Mount Carmel.

    We reproduce here the whole passage dealing with the Sabbatine privilege, as it appears in the summary approved by the Congregation of Indulgences on 4 July, 1908. It is noteworthy that the Bull of John XXII, which was still mentioned in the previous summary approved on 1 December, 1866, is no longer referred to (cf. "Rescript. authent. S.C. Indulg.", Ratisbon, 1885, p. 475). Among the privileges, which are mentioned after the indulgences, the following occurs in the first place: "The privilege of Pope John XXII, commonly [vulgo] known as the Sabbatine, which was approved and confirmed by Clement VII ("Ex clementi", 12 August 1530), St. Pius V ("Superna dispositione", 18 Feb., 1566), Gregory XIII ("Ut laudes", 18 Sept., 1577), and others, and also by the Holy Roman General Inquisition under Paul V on 20 January, 1613, in a Decree to the following effect:

    It is permitted to the Carmelite Fathers to preach that the Christian people may piously believe in the help which the souls of brothers and members, who have departed this life in charity, have worn in life the scapular, have ever observed chastity, have recited the Little Hours [of the Blessed Virgin], or, if they cannot read, have observed the fast days of the Church, and have abstained from flesh meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays (except when Christmas falls on such days), may derive after death -- especially on Saturdays, the day consecrated by the Church to the Blessed Virgin -- through the unceasing intercession of Mary, her pious petitions, her merits, and her special protection.

    With this explanation and interpretation, the Sabbatine privilege no longer presents any difficulties, and Benedict XIV adds his desire that the faithful should rely on it (Opera omnia, IX, Venice, 1767, pp. 197 sqq.). Even apart from the Bull and the tradition or legend concerning the apparition and promise of the Mother of God the interpretation of the Decree cannot be contested.

    The Sabbatine privilege thus consists essentially in the early liberation from purgatory, through the special intercession and petition of Mary, which she graciously exercises in favour of her devoted servants preferentially -- as we may assume -- on the day consecrated to her, Saturday. Furthermore, the conditions for the gaining of the privilege are of such a kind as justify a special trust in the assistance of Mary. It is especially required of all who wish to share in the privilege that they faithfully preserve their chastity, and recite devoutly each day the Little Hours of the Blessed Virgin. However, all those who are bound to read their Breviary, fulfil the obligation of reciting the Little Hours by reading their Office. Persons who cannot read must (instead of reciting the Little Hours) observe all the fasts prescribed by the Church as they are kept in their home diocese or place of residence, and must in addition abstain from flesh meat on all Wednesdays and Saturdays of the year, except when Christmas falls on one of these days. The obligation to read the Little Hours and to abstain from flesh meat on Wednesday and Saturday may on important grounds be changed for other pious works; the faculty to sanction this change was granted to all confessors by Leo XIII in the Decree of the Congregation of Indulgences of 11 (14) June, 1901.

      Source: Written by Joseph Hilgers. Transcribed by Michael T. Barrett. Dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York      Bibliography: For the text of the Bull see Bullarium Carmelit., I (Rome, 1715), 61 sq.; for its defense cf. Carmelite authors, e.g. BROCARD, Receueil d'instructions (4th ed., Ghent, 1875); RAYNAUD, Scapulare Partheno-Carmeliticum (Cologne, 1658). For the explanation of the privilege, consult BERINGER, Die Ablasse (13th ed.), 659 sqq.

    Now, I share the truth with the blind and humble alike. I no longer rub their noses in it and expect them to accept the truth as truth or to be intellectually honest in their responses. I share the facts and move on, leaving the state of their souls in the hands of the Holy Ghost and His most chaste spouse the Blessed Virgin Mary. As I write this I recall a saying that flashed across the screen as I watched a video of Our Lady of Lourdes which is paraphrased as follows: "For the blind no proof is sufficient; for the believer no proof is necessary."

    Blindness leads to darkness and damnation. Humility is the fertile ground for truth and salvation. Into which category do you fall?

    To conclude the story about the young man (who did indeed wear the scapular) I have been speaking about I will share the fact, sadly and with regret I didn't do more to save him, that he was my boyfriend at the time and I was the one whom he partied with and I must also share the sad fact that he died in a state of mortal sin without having gone to Confession even though he could have gone before he died and would have gone later had he not died. Remember those words? "I would rather a Priest get mad at me rather than GOD get mad at me."

    Let's think about this statement for a brief moment! These are serious and strong words, these were words said a day before my boyfriend at the time (well before I met my husband and wised up) died! He wanted to go to Confession but God didn't grant him another day to live!

    Before I go may I ask you to consider one more - short, true scenario, hopefully to the benefit of souls?

    There once was a man who debated a protestant on the truths of Catholicism for about an hour and a half on a Friday evening car ride home from work. The last question the protestant asked the man before they parted ways was "Do you think non-Catholics go to hell?"

    Which of the following responses do you think would have been more motivating for that protestant to take a second or third look at Catholicism before irrevocably deciding that one can be saved in any Christian religion?

    1. If you are invincibly ignorant that you need to join the Church you might go to Heaven.

    2. Yes.

    My husband answered the first way but will never do so again.

    We must be of good will before God will remove the obstinate veil of willful blindness which is the result of pride or before He will give us the humility that will allow that veil to be removed. We cannot desire our way to Heaven or wear a cloth like a good luck charm that will automatically save us. And we can't dare tell people in false religions that they can desire their way to Heaven.

    Why roll your soul like dice on a chance? In the Gospel of St. John 3:5 Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." If you get this wrong you will be in a hell of a lot of trouble for one can only be a member of the Church Militant through Baptism of Water. Baptism of Desire or Blood do not pertain to the Church Militant, but rather to the other two within the Communion of Saints and then at God's discretion however He sees fit.

    And speaking of fit, as in God must be having a fit, when He sees the Novus Ordo church teaching worse than the protestants do in this area, for the newchurch somehow believe and teach with tenacity that anyone can be saved in ANY religion. Sad heresy, but true, as was illustrated all too clearly in the recent Pew Forum Research findings that 89% of Catholics polled believe one can be saved outside the Church. Do they not know the dogmatic truth of outside the Church there is no salvation?

    What do they think happened to all those not on the Ark with Noah? They all perished. The only Church which Christ founded is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church - the Ark of Salvation. There are no other vessels on the Sea of Life on this planet. If one is not on that Ark in good standing with God, they too will perish.

    Yes, there are rare exceptions such as one with good will who truly desires to be baptized but has no way to do so either by inculpable ignorance, which today would be practically unheard of considering the plethora of communication means, or were they to die for Christ without the water of Baptism but would if they could.

    Of course, this issue is being treated on this site far better than I could ever approach and so I leave that to the experts.

    May we pray for the grace of humility and the ability to accept the truth which comes to the truly humble who sincerely seek the truth - whether that truth be a comfortable truth or not! And speaking of comfortable, we should not try to be comfortable in this world but prepare for the next and the garment we need to be adorned with at all times is Sanctifying Grace. Only then will we be comfortable wearing the Brown Scapular, only then will the promises of the Sabbatine Privilege be good. Pray for the day that those wearing this precious piece of wool realize it and make sure they've sincerely put on the armor of God.

    I know I made mistakes in the past. I know my deceased boyfriend sure did. Somehow, someway God preserved me from such a fate. I hope this article will serve in helping someone, anyone from falling into the same danger. I hope they will realize that the Brown Scapular, for all its promises, is not a good luck charm, but a reminder that it only works when we are in the state of grace, free of mortal sin. I can't emphasize that enough, dear friends.

    Please take it from one who knows, who has seen the seamier, sinful side and survived. The children of Fatima saw hell. I strongly fear my former boyfriend might well be there, but only God knows. I do know, however, that the difference between the experience of the visionaries in Portugal, which was merely a glimpse, and those who die in the state of mortal sin without a perfect Act of Contrition, is that hell is an everlasting reality of doom. I pray that in that split moment before he died that he made that perfect prayer. For this soul had a series of choices to make throughout his life as we all do and he chose wrongly many of those times as most of us do; we must form in ourselves the habit of making the right choice each and every time a choice is presented to us, for when we get in such a habit one of the benefits will be that, when the moment of death approaches, we will be already disposed to making the right choice. We can choose to embrace or reject the truth and that choice can lead to Heaven or hell. How will you choose?