The Rosary and the Scapular are Inseparable
All of the graces showered on Mary by the Holy Trinity, raised to her such a level as to be able to be the Supreme co-operator in Our Blessed Lord’s Redemption, just as we are each called and invited to participate in his Redemptive act.
Our Blessed Mother’s role in salvation history was not limited to just giving birth to Jesus and
providing him with love and necessities while he was an infant. Her maternal role .. as all mothers know .. extends well beyond diapers and dinners. She was called to be the highest participator in his redemption of mankind. That role does not come to an end because she is now in heaven along with him. In fact .. in one sense .. it becomes all the more elevated because she is now present to all men and women at all times like she could not be while she was still on earth. To that end .. Our Blessed Mother returns to earth at various times and places throughout history .. to continue perpetuating the fruits of Her Divine Son’s redemption.
Now .. while she has appeared at various times and places .. we’d like to concentrate on two specific visitations .. and through these two .. focus on two devotional aspects of the faith. The first is her reported appearance to St. Dominic and the other is the reported apparition to St. Simon Stock. Each of these visitations occurred in the 12th century and introduced in a new and vibrant way ..two devotional elements into the faith life of ordinary Catholics. St. Dominic was the recipient of the Rosary and St. Simon Stock was the recipient of the brown scapular.
Now a historical word first .. scholars and historians do not agree that these two men were the actual recipients of the Rosary and Brown Scapular. From a STRICTLY historical analysis .. the origins of these sacramentals are somewhat mysterious.
We know .. for example .. that the rosary was most likely a devotional prayer of the largely illiterate peasantry long before St. Dominic was born. There are writings and records that reference it .. in fact .. many centuries before St. Dominic. So we’ll talk about that history for a little bit – just by way of background. But the important thing to remember .. to always keep in the forefront is whether God’s will is being accomplished through these sacramentals. The exact details of the origins of one thing or another are often times shrouded in history and sometimes obscured by pious legend and local folklore etc. The bottom line is .. there is simply no way to know with unassailable certainty how various customs and practices and devotions began. What’s important is that the particular practice not be offensive to Catholic sensibilities AND that it helps a person grow in the spiritual life.
Those are the basics .. on a much deeper level .. it helps greatly if the Church has approved and blessed and adopted the particular devotion as well as it being specifically endorsed by the Queen of Heaven. What has grown up around the rosary is a life of rich mediation on mysterious central to the faith. Historical records clearly document the growth of both the Scapular and the Rosary during the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe.
By the early 20th century they had gained such a strong following among Catholics worldwide that the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1914 stated: "Like the Rosary, the Brown scapular has become the badge of the devout Catholic.” The importance of this kind of practice has been upheld and advance by Our Lady herself in numerous apparitions following her private appearance to St. Dominic. Both at Lourdes and Fatima .. to name two Church approved public apparitions .. Our Lady specifically made mention of the Rosary .. Going so far as to actually call herself the Lady of the Rosary at Fatima. She said the Rosary along with St. Bernadette in Lourdes. So as to the question of an appearance to St. Dominic and what exactly transpired with specific regard to the Rosary itself .. we will leave that to historians to fight over.
Now all that said .. what is interesting is that the Rosary and the Brown Scapular have sort of grown up together in the Church and have a sort of companion life.
You will be hard pressed to find a truly devout Catholic who doesn’t either recite the Rosary ..wear a Brown scapular or both. Now again … just to avoid any confusion .. these things are not required or demanded by the Church. They fall strictly into the realm of private devotion. It is not sinful to NOT say a rosary or wear a brown scapular. But Catholics who love the Faith .. like someone in love in the earthly sense .. is not satisfied with doing things on just a minimum level.
When someone is in love and dedicated .. they stand out precisely because of the degree of their dedication. The truly committed person .. to any cause .. is always the one showing up for action above and beyond the call of duty. So too with the devotional life of Catholics. That’s why we call it DEVOTIONAL .. the person is DEVOTED. They want the maximum .. not the minimum. So it’s in that spirit that we approach the topic of the Rosary and Scapular.
"TheRosary and the Scapular are inseparable".
That was said by Lucia .. the oldest of the three seers at Fatima. In these apparitions, the Virgin Mary called herselfThe Lady of the Rosary and in one of the final Fátima appearances on October 13, 1917 had a brown scapular in one hand and a rosary in the other. The Lady of the Rosary, encouraged the praying of the Rosary and the wearing of the brown scapular. Some theologians also emphasize that the Fatima messages do not just prophesy dangers, but include a package of solutions in which the Rosary and the scapular are revealed as "mystical weapons of defense."
So .. first the Rosary .. Catholic tradition holds that Our Lady made 15 specific promises to Christians who pray the rosary. They range from protection from misfortune to meriting a high degree of glory in heaven. Lucy at Fatima said .. that Our Lady told her .. "There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” The fifteen promises are ..
1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the rosary, shall receive signal graces.
2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the rosary.
3. The rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat
4. It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the heart of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
5. The soul which recommend itself to me by the recitation of the rosary shall not perish.
6. Whoever shall recite the rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not die by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
8. Those who are faithful to recite the rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the rosary.
10. The faithful children of the rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in heaven.
11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the rosary.
12. All those who propagate the holy rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
14. All who recite the rosary are my son, and brothers of my only son Jesus Christ.
15. Devotion of my rosary is a great sign of predestination.
The Rosary is little else than a string of beads used to keep track of the prayers said while thinking on a particular mystery of the life of Our Blessed Lord. It usually consists of 5 sets of ten beads .. each one having a Hail Mary prayed on it .. with an Our Father prayed on the single bead before it and a Glory Be immediately after.
Each set is called a decade .. in recognition of the 10 Hail Mary's. Usually five sets are considered one rosary and it takes about 15 minutes to pray – roughly. The point is not to mumble out 50 Hail Mary's .. and five our fathers and Glory Be's. It's to spend the amount of time if takes to say those prayers .. reflecting on a given aspect of Our Lord’s life and the plan of salvation history.
Let’s move on to the Brown Scapular for a moment.A scapular is a garment worn by religious .. like nuns and monks .. over the shoulders (scapula), and hanging down in front and back, usually to about the bottom of the habit. It developed as a practical garment, protecting the habit during work, and was in time invested with spiritual significance, consecration or dedication to God.
Like the scapulars of members of religious orders and communities .. there are small scapulars that are derived from them which represent a particular devotion or spirituality, usually associated with a particular community. Such a scapular is two pieces of cloth (generally about an inch square), connected by cords and worn over the head. It often has a picture or a particular color, depending on the spirituality it stands for.
The best known and most highly esteemed scapular, and the one most favored by the Church, and by the Blessed Virgin in many of her apparitions, is the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. It is adapted from the scapular of the Carmelite Order and represents a special Consecration to Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Those who wear it practice it a special devotion to Mary and say a rosary every day.
In addition, the person has a special entrustment of themselves to Mary for their salvation. This, in fact, has been promised to those who faithfully wear the scapular: "Those who die wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire." This must not be understood superstitiously or magically, but in light of Catholic teaching that perseverance in faith, hope and love are required for salvation.
The scapular is a powerful reminder of this Christian obligation and of Mary's promise to help those consecrated to her obtain the grace of final perseverance. Wearing the scapular indicates a special devotion and consecration to Mary. No one should undertake it who is not spiritually prepared to live in accordance with it.If someone wants to know why Catholics have all these “things” in the faith .. like rosaries and scapulars .. and other things like medals .. and statues and holy cards etc .. the answer is pretty simple.
Our world is a material world. Many things in our material world have symbolic meaning as well as their own individual simpler meaning. Fire is fire .. but also symbolizes power and authority. Water is water .. but also symbolizes purity and strength and beauty etc. Objects serve as symbols of other things and signs and symbols help us understand what is happening at a given moment .. and to make us aware of deeper truths. Think of what is happening on all levels of your psyche when some angry people burn your country’s flag. On the simple level .. a piece of cloth is being burned. But on another level .. what that signifies strikes at you and causes a gut reaction.
So too in the life of the Catholic Church. Symbols carry a great weight with them. Endowed as sacramentals .. they carry even more weight than just a symbol .. they become a means to grace. Think of a crucifix .. when someone reverently kisses it. We can’t kiss Jesus directly .. at least not yet .. but short of the actual reality .. do not think that the feet of Jesus in heaven are not showered with the love of your kisses here on earth. So too with a rosary or a scapular. These sacramentals carry an emotional .. and psychological weight tot hem. But they also carry a supernatural weight to them because they are reminders and resources for our eternal lives.
They connect us to the reality to which they point us in a real manner .. through the order of grace. And the reality to which they point us is eternal salvation. For this reason .. the devoted souls who wear the brown scapular actually participate in the reality of its promise given by Our Lady .. That promise goes like this ..
“Whosoever dies wearing it shall not suffer eternal fire. It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and pledge of peace."
Notice the phrase .. a sign of salvation. It does bring salvation .. but points to the reality of salvation.
Its important to distinguish here .. these sacramentals are not magic. They do not .. by themselves confer grace .. but they prepare the person who wears or uses them to receive grace and disposes that person to cooperate with it. Think of them like a wedding ring with supernatural richness attached to it. It is a symbol of marriage. But much more. It reminds you of your marriage. It recalls to mind your marital promises. It endows you with a strength to live faithfully. And it’s a public witness to your life and beliefs. Coming as they have from the Queen of Heaven’s own example as she has presented herself countless times with them ..
The Rosary and the Scapular are great assists in achieving what they point to .. the Heavenly
No Catholic should want to be without them.