July 16 is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There is something particularly wonderful about this feast, a double major liturgically, which makes it so embraceable for the faithful children of Mary. Perhaps it is the appealing simplicity of it, the maternal tenderness of it, as well as the magnanimous generosity of the promise. I used to be astonished when I was young to see how much the Italians loved this day. The parishes dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel had the most exciting festivals, some of them lasting three days, to celebrate the devotion.
It was in 1251 that the Blessed Virgin appeared to a Carmelite monk, Saint Simon Stock, in England, handing him a brown scapular and saying: “This shall be the privilege for you and for all Carmelites that anyone dying in this habit shall be saved.” The Order had been approved by Pope Honorius III in 1226, seven months before the death of Saint Francis of Assisi. The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was established by the Order in the late fourteenth century and given the date of July 16 because that was the day of Our Lady giving the scapular to Saint Simon. The saint wrote a book honoring the Blessed Mother, which he titled Flower of Carmel.
The Carmelites claim Elias the prophet as their founder and it is interesting that in the Old Testament there is a tradition that the disciples of Elias, and Eliseus who succeeded him, maintained a religious community of celibate men on Mount Carmel right up until the time of Christ, and after. One tradition has the monks coming down the mountain, which is on the north-western side of Palestine above the Plains of Sharon, and being among the first to be baptized in Jerusalem at Pentecost. One of the best books I have ever read, Prophet of Carmel, by Father Garside, M.A., is all about Elias.
There are other accounts of hermits and/or monks living on Mount Carmel throughout the Christian centuries, some were slain by the Saracens, but others seemed to always replace them. There was also a church dedicated to Our Lady, built on Mount Carmel sometime before the turn of the millennium. Although I could not find the testimony to verify the truth of it, one tradition had it that a church was built by the monks on the Mount soon after Our Lady’s glorious Assumption. When Saint Simon Stock visited the holy land he spent three years in the Carmelite monastery on Mount Carmel.
Three of the most renowned saints of the Church, who are declared doctors, were Carmelites: Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and the Little Flower, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus.
A Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel should commence tomorrow, July 7. The following litany would be most appropriate. It is a tradition at Saint Benedict Center that third order members wear their scapulars outside their shirts on the this great feast day.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us sinners.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Queen of heaven,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, vanquisher of Satan,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, most dutiful Daughter,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, most pure Virgin,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, most devoted Spouse,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, most tender Mother,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, perfect model of virtue,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, sure anchor of hope,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, refuge in affliction,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, dispenser of God’s gifts,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, tower of strength against our foes,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our aid in danger,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, road leading to Jesus,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our light in darkness,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our consolation at the hour of death,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, advocate of the most abandoned sinners, pray for us sinners.
For those hardened in vice, with confidence we come to thee, O Lady of Mount Carmel.
For those who grieve thy Son,
For those who neglect to pray,
For those who are in their agony,
For those who delay their conversion,
For those suffering in Purgatory,
For those who know thee not, with confidence we come to thee, O Lady of Mount Carmel.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Hope of the Despairing, intercede for us with thy Divine Son.
Let us pray.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, glorious Queen of Angels, channel of God’s tenderest mercy to man, refuge and advocate of sinners, with confidence I prostrate myself before thee, beseeching thee to obtain for me [insert your request here]. In return I solemnly promise to have recourse to thee in all my trials, sufferings, and temptations, and I shall do all in my power to induce others to love and reverence thee and to invoke thee in all their needs. I thank thee for the numberless blessings which I have received from thy mercy and powerful intercession. Continue to be my shield in danger, my guide in life, and my consolation at the hour of death. Amen.