Who wouldn’t want or need extra graces right now? I have always been deeply devoted to the wearing of the Brown Scapular. Through my thirty-five years of raising children, I have often asked them, “Do you have your scapular on?” They know that I have made myself police chief of this most important task. A day has seldom gone by without me asking this because I would find one in the bathroom, one on the pool fence, one on the kitchen counter, and various other places, but definitely not about their necks. I was determined never to let them forget that this is a little piece of heaven that our Blessed Mother asked us to wear.
I grew up a cradle Catholic but not knowing anything about the scapular devotion. The Church offers many means of grace for our journey towards heaven, and this one is especially important to me. I came across a booklet many years ago titled, Garments of Grace, which tells the story of Our Blessed Mother giving the Scapular to St. Simon Stock in the year 1251 with the attached promise, “Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” Our holy Mother also said, “Wear this devoutly and perseveringly. It is my garment. To be clothed in it means you are continually thinking of me.” So many miracles have been confirmed.
I have had a couple of miracles myself – not official ones, but it seemed that the hand of God was certainly at work. The first was when my father lay in a hospital being treated for gout in his knee. That is normally not a life-threatening condition, so I wasn’t too worried about him. He seemed fine when I spoke with him earlier in the day. To get a call an hour later that he had died was shocking. I knew he wasn’t wearing his scapular, but a friend of his called to tell me that she had brought it to him the night before, and that he was wearing it when he passed. This was a great consolation to me, as I was unsure of the state of his soul.
The next miracle was when my father-in-law was passing. We knew he was in his final hours, and we all stood around his bed praying. Everyone had left the room for various reasons, but I sensed he was agitated and seemed to be struggling. I felt a very strong, unwelcome presence in the room, so I remained by his side. My stubborn Italian temper was ready to fight this dark presence and send it on its way. My father-in-law kept gripping his scapular and trying to rip it off, over and over again. I kept placing it down on his chest, over and over again, until he laid it down peacefully, took his last breath, and passed with a faint smile on his face. The devil was surely fighting for his soul, but to his surprise, he just didn’t know who exactly he was messing with. Jesus is going to win, every time.
These are just some of the reasons that I have remained an advocate of wearing the Brown Scapular—one of the many helps provided for us in our life in the Church.