Catholic Family Vignettes

A collage of literary snapshots from the life of a large traditional Catholic family


July 2007

Happy Birthday Clementine!

And now you are 18. May God bless you, my precious girl, you who are so very precious to me. You also know that your mother is such a sap…so here goes the poetry…yes, you know the one:

She Walks in Beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair’d the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Lord Byron

And so, my girl, may your day be spent in goodness and joy. May you know the same joy that you have brought to those who love you. Happy birthday, sweetheart!

What?! No Pictures?!!

It is 9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning and every single one of my children are asleep. Dead to the world. Why? This is the aftermath of my dear daughter’s graduation/birthday party.

What an evening! A breezy, moonlit night spent with fifty wonderful, traditional Catholics. The food was incredible: Hubby prepared his “signature” specialty, country style ribs with “secret sauce”. Smashed potato salad (my specialty), cole slaw and tomato salad (fresh from the garden), “cowboy” baked beans and a variety of delightful and tempting dishes provided by our generous friends.

And beer. Lots of beer.

Our dear seminarian, Mr. Michael Connaughton, led us all in the Latin Table Blessing and the festivities commenced. Conversation galore, entertaining stories and the occasional outburst of song from our dear priest, Fr. Kevin Lutz. The boys played football and blew up water bottles by quickly capping them after filling them with dry ice and water. The little ones played amongst the sunflowers and in the sandbox, while the young ladies engaged in earnest conversation as they observed the antics of the young “football stars.”

This is how Sunday evenings should be spent. During our “Catholic Commune” days (I’ll have to share that story, one day), this was the rule, not the exception. Evenings of good food, fine conversation, children running around in joyful play…a beautiful way of life.

So…thank you, my dear friends. You are a blessing to us all. Thank you for helping us celebrate this lovely young woman. May God bless each of you for the generous gift of your time…oh yeah…thanks for the beer!

The Demonic Abortion Industry

Blessings to Margaret at Minnesota Mom for the “heads up” on this one. The imagery associated with and comparison of abortion to ritualistic demonic blood sacrifice, is horrifying. Please pray the Prayer to St. Michael, before reading:

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

The Demonic Abortion Industry
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer – President
Human Life International

In what sense is abortion demonic?
The spiritual dimension of this grisly “business” is its systematizing of ritual blood sacrifice to the god of child murder, Moloch, who we know of from the severe condemnations of him in the Old Testament (Lev 18:21, 20:2-5, 1 Kings 11:5.33, 2 Kings 23:13 and Zephaniah 1:5). This demon of murder appears in many forms and cultures through history (Phoenician, Carthaginian, Canaanite, Celt, Indian, Aztec and others) but is always the same bloodthirsty beast that demands the killing of children as his form of worship. This demon is not content with a single act of murder here and there. His insatiable appetite for the death of innocents seeks public endorsement to justify his gruesome deeds, and he needs a systematic expression of it to increase his worship.

The modern abortion industry offers ritual blood sacrifice to the ancient abortion demon. It is in every way a demonic religion. It has its sacred dogma (“choice”), its ruling hierarchy (Planned Parenthood), its theologians (feminist ideologues), its sacrificing priesthood (abortionists), its temples (abortion mills), altars (surgical tables), ritual victims (primarily babies and secondarily women), acolytes and sacristans (clinic workers and death-scorts), congregations (all supporters of abortion) and its own unifying principle of sacramental “grace” (money). In short, the abortion industry is a perfect demonic system which offers a perverse form of worship to the devil.

The sacrificial victim in this demonic religion is not a brute animal as was offered to the Old Testament God of Israel in a legitimate system of religious sacrifices. In abortion, the victim is an innocent human being who is made in the “image and likeness of God” and who can never defend herself. This combination of innocence, parental participation and ritualized obliteration of the visage of God in human form is the devil’s way of blaspheming the Father with the misguided participation of God’s own children. The systematic destruction of the human body which St. Paul calls “the temple of the Holy Spirit” is a blasphemous insult to God. If the abortion business is not truly demonic, nothing is. (End of excerpt.)

The rest of Fr. Euteneuer’s article made be read here. Please consider participating in the St. Michael Pray Campaign to End Abortion. The campaign began on March 25th, but it is never to late to join!

Just around the corner…

18 years. I can’t believe it. My little girl, my Clementine, will be 18 in just a few days.

Yesterday, we spent the day in orientation and advising for college. She is so very excited…filled with the joy that comes with anticipating an adventure.

As we were strolling past the school supplies in a local store, she exclaimed: “School supplies! I get to buy my own school supplies for a real school! OH! Umm…sorry mom, you know what I mean don’t you?”

Sigh,(deep cleansing breath)…of course, I do. Independence, that’s what she means. Thank heavens she’s only commuting!

Independence…a few steps at a time.

Here’s a little slideshow (it might load a little slowly after clicking the “read more” link), a brief glimpse into 18 years of life with this wonderful girl…we love you sweetie!

Future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades!

I love the Pope!

Here’s to the future…”everything old, is new again!”

Shameful reality…

Leticia from Causa Nostrae Laetitiae provides the shocking details from The Hofstra Report: Sexual Abuse by Educators Is Scrutinized

Here are a few excerpts from the report:

A draft report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education concludes that far too little is known about the prevalence of sexual misconduct by teachers or other school employees, but estimates that millions of children are being affected by it during their school-age years.


That study found that from 1950 to 2002, 10,667 people made allegations that priests or deacons had sexually abused them as minors. (“Report Tallies Alleged Sexual Abuse by Priests,” this issue.) Extrapolating from data collected in a national survey for the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation in 2000, Ms. Shakeshaft estimated that roughly 290,000 students experienced some sort of physical sexual abuse by a public school employee from 1991 to 2000—a single decade, compared with the roughly five-decade period examined in the study of Catholic priests. Those figures suggest that “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests,”contended Ms. Shakeshaft, who is a professor of educational administration at Hofstra, in Hempstead, N.Y.

“Based on the assumption that the AAUW surveys accurately represent the experiences of all K-12 students, more than 4.5 million students are sexually harassed or abused by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade,” the report says. “This is about the same number of people who live in all of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.”

Please read the rest of this startling report here.

Last evening, my husband met a lovely mother of five who had recently stopped homeschooling her children so that the older child could have the opportunity to participate in public school sports programs and other extra-curricular activities. He encouraged her to reconsider her actions, before school begins. She seemed disturbed by some of the information that he shared with her regarding our journey – having left homeschooling for public school, only to return, chastened by our experience. But here lies the seduction for most home educators…that even if we feel we are providing an excellent education, religious instruction and loving fellowship with our children – they are still “missing” something. Well, folks, here’s one more thing that you definitely WANT your children to miss.

May God bless and comfort all of the dear children and families who have been exposed to this abuse. May God strengthen the resolve of all families who are seeking to protect and educate their children in the best way they can.

The Path To The Woods

The Path to the Woods

Madison Cawein

Its friendship and its carelessness
Did lead me many a mile,
Through goat’s-rue, with its dim caress,
And pink and pearl-white smile;
Through crowfoot, with its golden lure,
And promise of far things,
And sorrel with its glance demure
And wide-eyed wonderings.

It led me with its innocence,
As childhood leads the wise,
With elbows here of tattered fence,
And blue of wildflower eyes;
With whispers low of leafy speech,
And brook-sweet utterance;
With bird-like words of oak and beech,
And whisperings clear as Pan’s.

It led me with its childlike charm,
As candor leads desire,
Now with a clasp of blossomy arm,
A butterfly kiss of fire;
Now with a toss of tousled gold,
A barefoot sound of green,
A breath of musk, of mossy mold,
With vague allurements keen.

It led me with remembered things
Into an old-time vale,
Peopled with faëry glimmerings,
And flower-like fancies pale;
Where fungous forms stood, gold and gray,
Each in its mushroom gown,
And, roofed with red, glimpsed far away,
A little toadstool town.

It led me with an idle ease,
A vagabond look and air,
A sense of ragged arms and knees
In weeds grown everywhere;
It led me, as a gypsy leads,
To dingles no one knows,
With beauty burred with thorny seeds,
And tangled wild with rose.

It led me as simplicity
Leads age and its demands,
With bee-beat of its ecstasy,
And berry-stained touch of hands;
With round revealments, puff-ball white,
Through rents of weedy brown,
And petaled movements of delight
In roseleaf limb and gown.

It led me on and on and on,
Beyond the Far Away,
Into a world long dead and gone, —
The world of Yesterday:
A faëry world of memory,
Old with its hills and streams,
Wherein the child I used to be
Still wanders with his dreams.

May God bless little boys…big ones, too! May they never lose their sense of wonder, curiosity and adventure.

I am daily reminded of the great privilege God has so graciously bestowed upon us, as we raise these wonderful children.

Picking flowers and vegetables, walking along the edge of the woods, playing badminton and horseshoes…a day of simple pleasures.

The Sunflower Grotto

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWelcome to the Sunflower Grotto! What fun it has been, this summer, watching the sunflowers reach incredible heights. We’ve begun tying their “heads” together to form the roof, and the effect is quite charming…a nice little “grotto” or cave which the little girls like to sit in with their dolls.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

If you’ve never made a sunflower house or grotto, it is really quite simple. In a sunny location, dig a crescent or horseshoe shaped trench. The size is entirely at your discretion. Scatter sunflower seeds (the mammoth variety) closely together (leave about two inches between each seed – you can also plant a smaller variety in between, if you wish). Water frequently…sunflowers require a lot of water. A few short weeks and your grotto or house will have reached sufficient height to begin forming the roof. The roof is formed by simply tying together adjacent “heads” or blooms. We don’t mow inside the grotto…the tall grass provides a lovely carpet for little ones to sit and kneel upon. Enjoy!

Preserving the past…

Have you ever wondered what happened to the lovely high altar in your old parish church? Or perhaps the statuary has been replaced by something a bit more modern and “up to date”…where are the old statues? Do you remember the old school and the convent beside it? After they were torn down, what became of all the furnishings and religious art?

It is quite possible, many of these items have found a home in the Jubilee Museum at Holy Family Church.

In an effort to preserve the rich heritage of tradition and beauty that is the Holy Roman Catholic Church, Fr. Kevin Lutz established the Jubilee Museum in Columbus, Ohio. Here is a brief statement taken from the above website:

“The Jubilee Museum at Holy Family was established in 1998 by Fr. Kevin Lutz, current pastor at Holy Family Church. Housed in the former Holy Family High School, its rooms contain many fine examples of Catholic religious artifacts, which include paintings, statues, vestments, altars, as well as items found in the home for personal devotion.
The inventory was acquired from churches and schools that have closed or from private individuals. For his efforts in preserving Catholic Church art and traditions, Fr. Lutz was recognized by Pope John Paul II, and appointed to the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Catholic Church in May of 2000.
Some of the money generated by the museum helps to support the works of charity in the parish. “

A seminarian from the Diocese of Columbus who has been working closely with Fr. Lutz, has produced a slideshow that provides an excellent example of just how much we have lost, in the destruction of historic churches, chapels, schools, orphanages and convents:

If you happen to be in Columbus, call Father and set up an appointment to tour the Jubilee Museum. It is a lovely reminder of what once was and what can yet be…thank you Father, for preserving the past!

The starry, starry sky

Teach me your mood,
O patient stars.
Who climb each night,
the ancient sky.
leaving on space no shade, no scars,
no trace of age, no fear to die.

– Emerson, The Poet

Arcturus. Cassiopeia. Corona Borealis. Vega. Polaris. What beautiful names, the name of the stars and constellations! Last evening, we attended an open air lecture on the planets, stars and constellations at Prairie Oaks Park, sponsored by the Otterbein College Astronomy Department. The evening was crisp and clear, according to our astronomer, very little particulate in the air, giving us a stunning view of the starry, summer sky.

Adults and children alike, clustered around the high powered telescopes which afforded us all the exquisite views of Jupiter and it’s four moons, Venus in crescent, the highlands and craters of the moon and globular star clusters.

We saw several “shooting stars” or meteors, streak across the sky; one meteor was particularly bright and provided the same response from my son, Joseph, as the 4th of July fireworks display attended a few weeks ago.

My favorite constellations? Corona borealis, for sure. The Northern Crown, and that is exactly what it looks like in the night sky. Sagittarius, which I will henceforth call the “teapot”, thanks to the observation of our astronomer…it sounds lovelier, I think.

Tonight, we will lay a blanket in the grass and stare, once again, into the starry, summer sky. Looking for shooting stars. Finding our name in the heavens. Resting beneath the loving gaze of our Heavenly Father.

Canst thou bind the sweet influence of Pleiades or loose the bands of Orion?

– Old Testament, Job, XXXVIII, 32

Gauisus Natalis, tibi Pater

May God bless you, dear Fr. Kevin Lutz, on this day and everyday to come.

Thou Art A Priest Forever

To live in the midst of the world,
Without wishing its pleasures;
To be a member of each family,
Yet belonging to none;
To share all sufferings;
To penetrate all secrets;
To heal all wounds;
To go from men to God
And offer Him their Prayers;
To return from God to men
To bring pardon and hope;
To have a heart of fire for charity
And a heart of bronze for chastity;
To teach and to pardon,
Console and bless always–
What a glorious life!
And it is yours,
O Priest of Jesus Christ!

Author unknown

Happy birthday, dear Father…happy birthday to you!

Old Errors and New Labels

Old Errors and New Labels is a collection of brilliant and timeless essays by Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Published in 1931, it is one of 96 books written by the Archbishop over a 55 year period.

The Archbishop’s keen wit, intellect and fearlessness are especially evident in one of his hallmark essays: The Decline of Controversy. Considering the recent outcry by the liberal “voice” of society with the issuance of the Summorum Pontificum and the clarification of “subsistit in”, our Holy Father seems to have taken up the banner of controversy as illustrated in the Archbishop’s following essay. Remember: this essay is the first of a series in the above referenced book – all written prior to 1931.

(emphases are mine, I’ll reserve comment…the essay speaks in ways which I cannot)

The Decline of Controversy

Once there were lost islands, but most of them have been found; once there were lost causes, but many of them have been retrieved; but there is one lost art that has not been definitely recovered, and without which no civilization can long survive, and that is the art of controversy. The hardest thing to find in the world today is an argument. Because so few are thinking, naturally there are found but few to argue.

There is prejudice in abundance and sentiment too, for these things are born of enthusiasms without the pain of labor. Thinking, on the contrary, is a difficult task; it is the hardest work a man can do—that is perhaps why so few indulge in it. Thought-saving devices have been invented that rival laborsaving devices in their ingenuity. Fine-sounding phrases like “Life is bigger than logic” or “Progress is the spirit of the age” go rattling by us like express trains, carrying the burden of those who are too lazy to think for themselves.

Not even philosophers argue today; they only explain away. A book full of bad logic, advocating all manner of moral laxity, is not refuted by critics; it is merely called “bold, honest, and fearless.” Even those periodicals that pride themselves upon their open-mindedness on all questions are far from practicing the lost art of controversy. Their pages contain no controversies, but only presentations of points of view. These never rise to the level of abstract thought in which argument clashes with argument like steel with steel, but rather they content themselves with the personal reflections of one who has lost his faith, writing against the sanctity of marriage, and of another who has kept his faith, writing in favor of it. Both sides are shooting off firecrackers, making all the noise of an intellectual warfare and creating the illusion of conflict, but it is only a sham battle in which there are plenty of explosions but never an exploded argument.

The causes underlying this decline in the art of controversy are twofold: religious and philosophical. Modern religion has enunciated one great and fundamental dogma that is at the basis of all the other dogmas: that religion must be freed from dogmas. Creeds and confessions of faith are no longer the fashion; religious leaders have agreed not to disagree and those beliefs for which some of our ancestors would have died they have melted into a spineless humanism. Like other Pilates they have turned their backs on the uniqueness of truth and have opened their arms wide to all the moods and fancies the hour might dictate.

The passing of creeds and dogmas means the passing of controversies. Creeds and dogmas are social; prejudices are private. Believers bump into one another at a thousand different angles, but bigots keep out of one another’s way, because prejudice is anti-social. I can imagine an old-fashioned Calvinist who holds that the word “damn” has a tremendous dogmatic significance coming to intellectual blows with an old-fashioned Methodist who holds that it is only a curse word. But I cannot imagine a controversy if both decide to damn damnation, like modernists who no longer believe in hell.

The second cause, which is philosophical, bases itself on that peculiar American philosophy called pragmatism, the aim of which is to prove that all proofs are useless. Hegel of Germany rationalized error; James of America derationalized truth. As a result, there has sprung up a disturbing indifference to truth, and a tendency to regard the useful as the true, and the impractical as the false. The man who can make up his mind when proofs are presented to him is looked upon as a bigot, and the man who ignores proofs and the search for truth is looked upon as broad-minded and tolerant.

The Catholic Church perhaps more than the other forms of Christianity notices the decline in the art of controversy. Never before, perhaps, in the whole history of Christianity has she been so intellectually impoverished for want of good sound intellectual opposition as she is at the present time. Today there are no foe-men worthy of her steel. And if the Church today is not producing great chunks of thought, or what might be called “thinkage,” it is because she has not been challenged to do so. The best in everything comes from the throwing down of a gauntlet—even the best in thought.

The Church loves controversy, and loves it for two reasons: because intellectual conflict is informing and because she is madly in love with rationalism. The great structure of the Catholic Church has been built up through controversy. It was the attacks of the docetists and the monophysites in the early centuries of the Church that made her clear on the doctrine concerning the nature of Christ; it was the controversy with the Reformers that clarified her teaching on justification.

If today there are not nearly so many dogmas defined as in the early ages of the Church it is because there is less controversy— and less thinking. One must think to be a heretic, even though it be wrong thinking.

Even though one did not accept the infallible authority of the Church, he would still have to admit that the Church in the course of centuries has had her finger on the pulse of the world, ever defining those dogmas which needed definition at the moment. In the light of this fact, it would be interesting to inquire if our boasted theory of intellectual progress is true. What was the Christian world thinking about in the early centuries? What doctrines had to be clarified when controversy was keen? In the early centuries, controversy centered on such lofty and delicate problems as the Trinity, the Incarnation, the union of Natures in the Person of the Son of God. What was the last doctrine to be defined in 1870? It was the capability of man to use his brain and come to a knowledge of God.

Now, if the world is progressing intellectually, should not the existence of God have been defined in the first century, and the nature of the Trinity have been defined in the nineteenth? In the order of mathematics this is like defining the complexities of logarithms in the year 30, and the simplification of the addition table in the year 1930. The fact is that there is now less intellectual opposition to the Church and more prejudice, which, being interpreted, means less thinking, even less bad thinking.

Not only does the Church love controversy because it helps her sharpen her wits—she loves it also for its own sake. The Church is accused of being the enemy of reason. As a matter of fact, she is the only one who believes in it. Using her reason in the [First] Council of the Vatican she officially went on record in favor of rationalism (meaning here the proper use of reason) and declared, against the mock humility of the agnostics and the sentimental faith of the fideists, that human reason by its own power can know something besides the contents of test tubes and retorts and that, working on mere sensible phenomena, it can soar even to the “hid battlements of eternity,” there to discover the Timeless beyond time and the Spaceless beyond space that is God, the Alpha and Omega of all things.

The Church asks her children to think hard and think clean. Then she asks them to do two things with their thoughts. First, she asks them to externalize them in the concrete world of economics, government, commerce, and education, and by this externalization of beautiful, clean thoughts to produce a beautiful and clean civilization.

The quality of any civilization depends upon the nature of the thoughts its great minds bequeath to it. If the thoughts that are externalized in the press, in the senate chamber, on the public platform are base, civilization itself will take on their base character with the same readiness with which a chameleon takes on the color of the object upon which it is placed. But if the thoughts that are vocalized and articulated are high and lofty, civilization will be filled, like a crucible, with the gold of the things worthwhile.

The Church asks her children not only to externalize their thought and thus produce culture, but also to internalize their thoughts and thus produce spirituality. The constant giving would be dissipation unless new energy was supplied from within. In fact, before a thought can be bequeathed to the outside, it must have been born on the inside.

But no thought is born without silence and contemplation. It is in the stillness and quiet of one’s own intellectual pastures, wherein man meditates on the purpose of life and its goal, that real and true character is developed. A character is made by the kind of thought a man thinks when alone, and a civilization is made by the kind of thoughts a man speaks to his neighbor.

On the other hand, the Church discourages bad thinking, for a bad thought set loose is more dangerous than a wild man. Thinkers live; toilers die in a day. When society finds it is too late to electrocute a thought, it electrocutes the man.

There was once upon a time when Christian society burned the thought in order to save society, and after all, something can be said in favor of this practice. To kill one bad thought may mean the salvation of ten thousand thinkers. The Roman emperors were alive to this fact; they killed the Christians not because they wanted their hearts, but because they wanted their heads, or better, their brains—brains that were thinking out the death of Paganism.

It is to this task of thinking out the death of New Paganism that these charpters are written.

Picking blackberries is for the birds!

Defeated. The birds have beat us to the blackberries. Watching, waiting and braving the poison ivy jungle have gained us approximately two cups of blackberries…enough for a couple batches of blackberry pancakes. No blackberry pie. No blackberry jam. No blackberry cordial.

This weekend I will brave the wilds of the domesticated blackberry farm where I will stand amidst the thornless, trellised beauties and grasp handfuls – a privilege I will gladly pay for!

The next couple of days will be rather busy. My daughter, Elizabeth, is coming for a visit on Thursday. Friday, the three older boys will be serving a requiem Mass in Newark. The weekend will be spent canning and freezing – the joyful preservation of the summer harvest.

Light blogging ahead…

A Low Mass…

One priest, chasuble emblazoned with the image of Our Lady. Four seminarians in cassock, surplice and biretta. Four young brothers, all vested, sitting in choir. Four young men, in the congregation, prepared to serve if needed.

This was a Low Mass! An announcement was made Sunday, that a Latin Mass would be offered at 9:00 a.m., for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Short notice, but met with enthusiasm by those willing and able to attend. Attendance was light with perhaps 20 or so adults, but there were no less than twenty-five children present.

After Mass, several moms congregated on the steps outside, with the children playing all around. Cheerful greetings exchanged, plans to meet at the park, old friends welcomed back…peace, joy and fellowship. The fruits of this simple, Low Mass!

Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel,

The Doctrinal Statement on the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The following is the approved English text of the doctrinal section of the “Rite of Blessing of and Enrollment in the Scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel” as issued and confirmed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and for the Discipline of the Sacraments, November 29, 1996, Prot. 2243/96/L.


1. Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is bound to the history and spiritual values of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular. Thus, whoever receives the scapular becomes a member of the order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life.

A Marian Plan for Evangelical Life

2. The Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin was born on Mount Carmel, in the Holy Land, in the twelfth century. A group of hermits who came from the west settled there to live after the example of Christ in his land. At their request, the Patriarch Albert gave them a rule of life that demanded of them, among other things, to build an oratory among their cells, where they could gather for the celebration of the Eucharist.1 They dedicated the oratory to Mary, and thus they were meant to bind themselves to her in a special way, so that they were identified, at first by the people, and later officially, as the “Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel”.

Thus, the matter in which the Carmelites follow the gospel takes on a deeply Marian character. Mary:

* magnifies the Lord and exults in the wonders of his merciful love (cf. Lk 1:49);
* listens to and ponders in her heart all the things concerning Jesus (cf. Lk 2:19, 51);
* identifies herself with her people, especially those in need, the spirituality and materially poor, the marginalized (cf. Lk 1:52-53ff, Jn 2:3); and
* is constant in prayer, open to the fire of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14; 2:1-4) who is the strength of all apostolic gifts.

In the Fraternity of Carmel

3. From of old, they were faithful who were attracted by this ideal way of life and its characteristics and asked to be able to share in it. Their circumstances as family people who lived in the world were no obstacle to their sharing in the fraternity of Carmel.

The visible sign of reception to this fraternity was the habit (or part of the habit) of the order. At first the special sign was the mantle, but soon after it became the scapular.

The scapular of Carmel, or the habit (also called by other names in different places), is one of the devotions most loved by the people of God. The great diffusion of the scapular seems to have been due to the tradition of a vision of Our Lady, documented at least since the end of the fourteenth century.

4. During one of its difficult times, the order asked to get full recognition an stability within the Church. Mary, Patroness of Carmel, seemed to have answered this plea with a vision to the English Carmelite, St. Simon Stock. She held in her hand the scapular and assured the holy prior general, saying:

“This is a privilege for you and the order: whoever dies wearing this Scapular will be saved.”2 Later it was widely believed that the Virgin would deliver from Purgatory, on the first Saturday after death, the Carmelites and people associated with them who observed chastity according to their state, recited prayers, and wore the habit of Carmel. This is the so-called Sabbatine Privilege.3

The faithful then quickly understood that to wear the habit meant to enter into the fraternity of the order and of Mary. By responding to the love of the Virgin, they lived secure under her protection in all the dangers of life and, at the hour of death, confident that even after death she would intervene on their behalf, she who “with her maternal love takes care of the brothers of her Son…until they are led to the blessed land.”4

More recently, thanks to a deeper understanding of our tradition and the fruit of research and of the process of renewal in the whole Church, the approach to popular devotions and, therefore, to the scapular, has changed.5

5. As a result of the history and evolution of devotion to Mary through the scapular, there are today several categories of devotees according to the degree of identification with and affiliation to the family of Carmel. These may be listed as follows:

a) The religious men and women.

b) The Secular Order (also called Third Order).

c) Those who belong to the Confraternity of the Scapular.

d) All those who receive the scapular and live according to its spirituality in various degrees of association with the order.

e) Those who receive the scapular and live according to its spirituality, but have no formal association with the order.6

f) All who are committed to put into practice the Marian characteristic of Carmelite spirituality wholly and fervently, but in forms which correspond to the nature of the bond that ties them to the family of Mary.7

II. Nature and Character

6. “The scapular is essentially a habit. Whoever receives it, is, by virtue of such reception, associated more or less intimately with the Order of Carmel.”8 The scapular or habit is, in fact, a habit in miniature of the order that, in order live “in allegiance to Jesus Christ,”9 has chosen the spiritual experience of familiarity10 with Mary, sister, mother, and model.

7. Association with the Carmelite family and familiarity with Mary take on a character that is fundamentally communitarian and ecclesial, because Mary “help all her children – wherever and whenever – to find in Christ the way to the house of the Father.”11 Thus the scapular is the small “sign” of the great ideal of Carmel: intimacy with God and friendship among the disciples.

Biblical Symbolism

8. In the Old Testament, a habit – especially a mantle – was the symbol of divine benefits, of protection from on high, of power transmitted to one of God’s messengers.

The special coat of Joseph was symbol of predilection (cf. GN 37:3); the gift of Jonathan’s mantle to David was a symbol of friendship (1 Sam 18:4). In Isaiah w read: “I exult for joy in Yahweh, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity” (Is 61:10). When the prophet Elijah was taken up to heaven, his mantle fell on his disciple Elisha, thus passing on to him the spirit of the master (cf. 2 Kings 2:14ff).

9. In the New Testament, even the hem of the cloak of Jesus, if touched with faith, communicated his healing power (cf. Mk 5:25ff). St. Paul more than once talks of life in Christ in terms of putting on Christ (Rm 13:14; Ga 3>27); to put on the same attitude as Jesus, that is, the life of filial grace of the Christian, is described by the image of clothes. the religious habit, of which the scapular is a part and symbol, signifies, in a special way, this following of Jesus.

In the Trinity with Christ

10. Mary, the blessed among women, is the masterpiece of the Most Blessed Trinity who united her to Itself, bringing the feminine to its greatest possible realization in her, like an icon of the Trinity’s tenderness, and Its saving will.12 Mary is the Lady in whom “all is related to Christ and all depends on him; foreshadowing the Son, God the Father, from all eternity, chose her to be the all holy Mother and adorned her with gifts of the Spirit, granted to no one else.”13 Our Lady is for the whole Church the model of that “praise of the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity” to which we are all called to be.

11. The scapular is a symbol of filial and grateful recognition of the mission that the Most Blessed Trinity willed to confide to Mary in the history of salvation, “mystery of mercy” (1 Tim 3:6). These truly significant words were placed on the lips of Mary: “I bring you a scapular as a sign of my blessing and my love and, at the same time, as a sign of the mystery, which will be accomplished, in you. I come to fully ‘clothe you in Jesus Christ’ (Gal 3:27) so that you may be ‘rooted in him’ (Col 2:7), ‘the royal way’, in the depths of the abyss, with the Father and the Spirit of love.”14

Ecclesial Journey-Pilgrimage

12. Through space and time, and especially through the history of human kind, Mary is present as “she who has believed” (cf. Lk 1:45), as she who goes forward on the pilgrimage of faith, partaking in the mystery of Christ above all other creatures.15

13. The Church on her faith pilgrimage finds its best model in Our Lady. The example of the Blessed Virgin leads the faithful to conform themselves to the Son. But it also leads them to celebrate the mysteries of Christ with the profound attitude that the Virgin had when she was by her Son at his birth and at the Epiphany, at his death and resurrection. That is, it urges them to guard zealously the Word of God to meditate on it lovingly; to praise God with exultation and to thank him joyfully; to serve God and neighbor faithfully and to offer generously for them even life itself, to pray to the Lord perseveringly and to implore confidently; to be merciful and humble; to “wait vigilantly for the coming of the Lord.”16

14. Carmel has followed this way, suggesting to its members to become like Mary in order that, following her example, they may dwell in the divine intimacy. The three phases of this ascent of Mount Carmel are: imitation, union, and likeness to Mary.17

III. Commitment to a Way of Life

15. The following of Chris and of Mary, as understood and lived in the charism of the Order, becomes the reality after which the faithful in the Carmelite family strive. They can rely on the help and support of all the brothers and sisters who share in the same ideal. The members of the Carmelite family live their commitment in various ways: in the “desert”, in fraternal life, in the apostolic life, on the streets of the world, working with Mary for the Kingdom of Christ.

16. The institutional forms, erected and acknowledge by the Order, help to emphasize the communal character of the family of htose who, led bye the Spirit, want to dedicate their whole life in this world – in union with Mary – to the glory of God.

Thus, becoming part of the fraternity of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and receiving the scapular as a sign of such membership, is for the faithful an instrument of Christian life with special characteristics:

a) To live as “brothers” or “sisters” of Mary in communion with Carmel, to enter more deeply into its spirit, to live its ideals and its history, praying and cooperating with it in order that, faithful to its charism and their vocation, they may reflect, in the world, Mary who brings Jesus to all.

b) To give to Mary ever more space in their life, seeking to live in their circumstances their fidelity to Christ in the spirit of Mary:

– in the faith that gazes at and prays to God, welcomes and dialogues with him;

– in the hope that transforms itself into being at the service of All, which is God; and

– in the charity that abandons itself to the will of the Lord in order to be a true gift to the brothers and sisters, especially the smallest and most humble.

c) To imitate the “praying Virgin” who “kept the word of God in her heart” (cf. Lk 2:19,51), setting aside some time to meet God in prayer, meditating on the mysteries of salvation, taking part in faith in the liturgy of the Church, especially the Eucharist, reciting every day some liturgical hour or some psalms or the holy rosary. To see to it that living in the presence of the living God, every aspect of life becomes prayer and that prayer becomes life, at the same time remembering the obligations and work of their state of life.

d) To share in the Paschal Mystery of Christ by means of voluntary penances, lived in the spirit of Carmel, looking at Mary, whose soul was pierced by a sword (cf. Lk 2:35), who “sustained her union with her Son faithfully even to the cross, where she stood (cf. Jn 19:25) suffering deeply with her Firstborn and uniting herself to his sacrifice.”18

e) To show the love of God. The “Most Pure Virgin” allows the love of God to shine through all her being without any resistance or opacity, a love which clothes her personally and opens her to the whole of humanity. Thus, she charms and attracts the devout, who keep their heart and senses, their body and soul, open to the love of God, whom they seek and desire in all things and above all things. The faithful open themselves to receive all the gifts of holiness that God himself places in human relationships and in the love of neighbor. Thus love involves the human body as the “dwelling place” of God (cf. 1 Col 3:16-17), and through which they communicate with others. It is the vehicle for the expression of love.

f) To engage in the works of evagelization. Those who wear the scapular identify themselves with the mission of Carmel to be in the world a prophetic sign of union with God, to work for the coming of the Kingdom of God through visible signs of sharing, reconciliation, justice, looking after the sick, and listening to the cries of the poor.

g) As much as possible, to foster fraternal communion among the members of the fraternity by means of assemblies and reunions, which nourish and support these aims.

17. The scapular is the sign of the love of Mary, icon of the goodness and mercy of the Most Blessed Trinity. This love is the fruit of the grace of God poured into the hearts of the faithful who, in turn, commit themselves to it.

18. Appendix: Practical Norms for the Scapular Confraternity

1) The scapular confraternity of Carmel is an association of the faithful who strive for the perfection of charity in the world in the spirit of the Carmelite Order, participate in the life of the Order and its spiritual benefits in an intimate communion of thought, ideals, and works together with Mary.

2) The supreme moderator of the Carmelite Order is the competent authority for the canonically established of a confraternity. For churches belonging to the Order, the consent given by he ordinary for the canonical establishment of the religious house is also valid for the canonical establishment of the confraternity. However, for the canonical establishment of the confraternity19 in other churches or places, the written consent of the ordinary is required.20

3) A person given authority to act in the name of the Order may receive people into the confraternity of the scapular.

4) Reception into the confraternity takes lace according to the proper rite approved by the Holy See by means of enrollment in the scapular. The scapular consists of two brown or dark pieces of material joined together by two ribbons or pieces of string. For receptions, the name of the faithful and the date must be registered in a book kept for the purpose. These conditions, however, may be waived.

5) After the reception of the scapular, the faithful may substitute it with a medal showing on one side the Sacred Heart of Jesus and on the other Our Lady. Both scapular and medal may be replaced without having to be blessed again.

6) The members of the confraternity must at all times devoutly wear the scapular or the medal as a visible sign of their belonging to Mary in the brotherhood of Carmel.

7) Members are bound to set aside regularly time to be with God in prayer, frequent participation in the Eucharist, daily recitation of one of the hours of the liturgy or of some psalms or the rosary or other equivalent prayers.

8) If possible, they will meet periodically to build up the sense of fraternity, to study the spirit of Carmel, to care for brothers and sisters in need, all in union with Mary.

9) They may gain plenary indulgences, provided they fulfill the usual conditions,21 on the day they join the confraternity and on the following feasts: the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (July 16), St Elijah, prophet (July 20), St Simon Stock (May 16), St Therese of the Child Jesus (October 1), St Teresa of Jesus (October 15), All Carmelite Saints (November 14), and St John of the Cross (December 14).22

10) The solemn feast of the confraternity is that of the Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel July 16. Members will celebrate this feast with great love and gratitude towards Mary, renewing their commitment of service to her, fidelity to Jesus Christ and the Church, and commending the whole Carmelite family to the maternal heart of the Virgin.


1. Rule, 10.

2. B. Xiberta, De visione S. Simonis Stock oma. 1950. 3 11.

3. L. Saggi, La Bolla Sabatina, ambiente, testo, tempo. Roma. 1967.

4. Lumen Gentium, 62.

5. Lumen Gentium, 67.

6. See also the document, Un segno di fede e di impegno cristiano. Lo Scapolare del Carmine (Dec. 1994), which contains a brief catechesis.

7. However, the possibility is not excluded for those who see in it a sign of hope and protection of Mary for a Christian life and eternal salvation. Henricus M. Esteve, De Valore Spirituali Devotionis Sacri Scapularis. Roma. 1953. 229. He Quotes Benedict XIV.

8. Pius XII, Notre Premier Souhait, Aug. 6, 1950. Discorsi e radiomessaggi 12 (1951), 168; of also Pius XII, the letter, Neminem profecto Libet.

9. Rule, prologue.

10. Consuetudo Vitae.

11. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 47. John Paul II spoke of the scapular in a 1985 letter to the Cardinal Legate to the Mariological and Marian Congress of Santo Domingo.

12. A. Bostius, De Patronatu…,” n.1542; cf. n. 1574.

13. Marialis Cultus, 51

14. Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, letter to Mother Germana, September 24, 1906.

15. Cf Lumen Gentium, 65; Redemptoris Mater, 25.

16. Introduction to the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

17. Cf Blessed Titus Brandsma, Historical notes on Carmelite mysticism: The Beauty of Carmel. The tertiary Maria Petijt reached the heights of mystical experience with Mary.

18. Lumen Gentium, 58.

19. Cannon 312, par. 2.

20. Ibid.

21. Confession, communion, prayers according to the intentions of the Pope, and a renewal of the promise to keep the pledges of the Confraternity.

22. Decrees of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary 144/68/R of June 25, 1968, and 11533/68/R of Sept. 17, 1968.

In Preparation For The Feast Of Our Lady Of Mt. Carmel

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July 16th)
Catholic Encyclopedia

This feast was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under the title “Commemoratio B. Marif Virg. duplex” to celebrate the victory of their order over its enemies on obtaining the approbation of its name and constitution from Honorius III on 30 Jan., 1226 (see Colvenerius, “Kal. Mar.”, 30 Jan. “Summa Aurea”, III, 737). The feast was assigned to 16 July, because on that date in 1251, according to Carmelite traditions, the scapular was given by the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock; it was first approved by Sixtus V in 1587. After Cardinal Bellarmine had examined the Carmelite traditions in 1609, it was declared the patronal feast of the order, and is now celebrated in the Carmelite calendar as a major double of the first class with a vigil and a privileged octave (like the octave of Epiphany, admitting only a double of the first class) under the title “Commemoratio solemnis B.V.M. de Monte Carmelo”.

By a privilege given by Clement X in 1672, some Carmelite monasteries keep the feast on the Sunday after 16 July, or on some other Sunday in July. In the seventeenth century the feast was adopted by several dioceses in the south of Italy, although its celebration, outside of Carmelite churches, was prohibited in 1628 by a decree contra abusus. On 21 Nov., 1674, however, it was first granted by Clement X to Spain and its colonies, in 1675 to Austria, in 1679 to Portugal and its colonies, and in 1725 to the Papal States of the Church, on 24 Sept., 1726, it was extended to the entire Latin Church by Benedict XIII. The lessons contain the legend of the scapular; the promise of the Sabbatine privilege was inserted into the lessons by Paul V about 1614. The Greeks of southern Italy and the Catholic Chaldeans have adopted this feast of the “Vestment of the Blessed Virgin Mary”. The object of the feast is the special predilection of Mary for those who profess themselves her servants by wearing her scapular (see CARMELITES).

Author: Frederick G. Holweck

Transcribed by Paul T. Crowley

From the Catholic Encyclopedia
Copyright © 1913 Encyclopedia Press, Inc.

Spin, spin, spin…

Pope: Other denominations not true churches

Jews object to Latin rite’s prayer for their conversion

Vatican: Non-Catholics ‘wounded’ by not recognizing pope

Pope’s comments irrelevant to non-Catholics

Theo-con Pope tries to force all of us back to the Middle Ages

Spin, spin, spin…the inexhaustible fount of negative news being “spun” by the media is dizzying. Martyrdom for the faithful seems imminent!

All humor aside, it has not been my intention to delve too heavily into church politics, nor to give too much attention to those issues which fan the fires of controversy. I am, however, a bit concerned by the sheer volume of negative news and commentary regarding this extremely exciting, yet challenging time in Church history.

It seems as if our Holy Father has drawn a line in the sand, and we, the faithful, are being asked to step over in faith. The speculation regarding each individual diocese’s response to the SP is all-consuming for members of the media, who wish to stir the muddy waters of discontent. Very little press is given to those who welcome or even hint at obedience to the directives of the Holy Father.

I have rejoiced and perhaps even gloated a bit, in the past few days over the recent documents from Rome that seemingly affirm a shift in the “tide.” My email inbox has been overflowing with links to documents, headlines and commentary from a myriad of sources. There will never be enough time in the day to sufficiently peruse them all, and I simply lack the wisdom to expound upon them, leaving that job to the trained theologian or commentator.

And so I leave you with this: Charity, patience and temperance. Much will be said and done in the days to come. These documents are not an end unto themselves, but a beginning. I remain thankful to God for His great Wisdom and feel privileged to be alive during such interesting times!

Embracing Sacred Music

Say “hello” to the Holy Family Gregorian Chant Schola for Boys! Mr. Michael Connaughton, parishioner and FSSP seminarian, is heading this effort and will be devoting his brief summer break to the instruction of these dedicated youths.

What an incredible opportunity for these young men to discover the beauty of chant. Sacrosanctum Concilium, emphasized that the “combination of sacred music and words forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.” Our Holy Father reiterated this, during a trip to Regensburg, by stating that “music and song are more than an embellishment of worship; they are themselves part of the liturgical action”

May God bless the efforts of these young men and all those striving to enhance the beauty of the liturgy by embracing “sacred music.”

Searching for the extraordinary…

From Lumen Gentleman:

Summorum Pontificum Contact Database

Search for contacts in your area

The motu proprio has been released! The next step is to start putting the Catholic faithful who want to assist at the extraordinary form of the Holy Mass in touch with Catholic priests who want to say the extraordinary form of the Holy Mass.

An online form is available to facilitate the search of the faithful seeking access to the Traditional or Extraordinary Form of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. A database “search” feature will also provide contact information for specific parishes.

A tip of the hat (once again) to Rorate Caeli for this quote from Thomas Woods:

“For several decades, not only the Catholic left but also the ‘orthodox’ Catholic right condemned supporters of the 1962 Missal as disobedient, wicked, schismatic – you name it – because they believed that what was beautiful and venerable yesterday could not cease to be beautiful and venerable today. They likewise found it hard to believe that they were considered a little bit crazy, perhaps even in need of counseling, because they longed for the traditional Mass, the very thing they had been taught their whole lives to venerate.”

The entire text of Mr. Woods article may be obtained here.


The blackberries are nearly ripe! Prickly bushes loaded with sweet, juicy blackberries are clustered along the perimeter of the wooded grove behind our home. Yesterday evening, Gareth informed us that there were “hundweds and hundweds” of ripe blackberries. Armed with an assortment of containers, we made the trek…and returned with approximately 1 cup of blackberries. Sigh…my children have extremely fertile imaginations!

The good news: there are “hundweds and hundweds” that are in the process of ripening. Surrounded, I might add, by a rather frightening amount of poison ivy. Needless to say, Arthur will not be picking blackberries (he is horribly sensitive to the dreaded weed!) One more week…then all we must do is “out pick” the birds and avoid the thorns, snakes and poison ivy. Maybe I’ll check out that nice blackberry farm in London…

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