The Unfailing Way to get out of Purgatory—Turn to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Pope St. John Paul II said, “Over time this rich Marian heritage of Carmel has become, through the spread of the Holy Scapular devotion, a treasure for the whole Church.”

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel                                                                                                       public domain

By Larry Peterson

There is a place near where e prophet Elija lived, and it is one of the most biblical places on earth. It is 1,742 feet above sea level and hovers high over the coast of the Mediterranean. It was here where Elija prayed to God, asking Him to save Israel from the onslaught of an ongoing drought.

He prayed and prayed and would ask his servant to go up the mountain and look for signs of rain. On the seventh try, Elijah’s servant returned, exclaiming, “Behold, a little cloud that looked like a man’s foot rose from the sea.” Soon after, torrential rains fell upon the parched land. The crops grew, the animals thrived,  and the people were saved. The place was called Mount Carmel.

Elijah saw the cloud as the symbol mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14) Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: the Virgin shall be with Child, and bear a Son and name Him Emanuel.”

Many hermits lived on Mount Carmel, and following Elijah’s example would continually pray for the advent of the much-awaited Virgin who would become the mother of the Messiah. The very beginnings of the Carmelite Order can be traced back to Elijah and the hermits of Mount Carmel. Many consider these hermits as the first Carmelites.

These hermits lived on Mount Carmel during the 12th and 13th centuries. In the midst of their hermitages, they built a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, whom they called the Lady of the Place. In the 13th century, Simon Stock was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He had been elected as the 6th superior-general of the Carmelites.

He joined a group of hermits on Mount Carmel. On Sunday, July 16, 1251, Simon Stock was kneeling in prayer when Our Lady appeared to him. The Blessed Mother said to Simon, “Hoc erit tibi et cunctis Carmelitis privilegium, in hochabitu moriens salvabitur.” (This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in the habit shall be saved.”

It is said that the Blessed Mother gave the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (also known as the Brown Scapular) to Simon Stock. Six months later, on January 13, 1252, the order received a letter of protection from Pope Innocent IV, defending them from any harassment or denial of this event.

Most of us know of the Sabbatine Privilege. This is attached to the wearing of the Brown Scapular. The name, Sabbatine Privilege, comes from a papal bull issued by Pope John XXII on March 3, 1322. According to the Holy Father, the Blessed Virgin gave him the following message in a vision which was directed to all those who wear the Brown Scapular. “I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday (Sabbath) after their death and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory, I shall free, so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting.”

Based on Church tradition, three conditions must be fulfilled to obtain the benfeits of this Privilege and the Scapular:  1) wear the Brown Scapular; 2) Observe chastity according to one’s state in life; 3) pray the Rosary. Also, to receive the spiritual blessings associated with the Scapular, it is necessary to be formally be enrolled in the Brown Scapular by either a priest or a layperson who has been given the authority to do so. Once enrolled, no other scapular needs to be blessed before wearing. The blessing and imposition are attached to the enrolled person for life.

The feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is July 16, the same day she appeared to Simon  Stock. Interestingly, Simon Stock was never officially canonized. He has been venerated by the Carmeilites since 1564. And with Vatican approval, he has been given the feasr day of May 16. He is also called Saint Simon Stock and churches and schools have been named after him,

On the 750th anniversary of the bestowal of the Brown Scapular, Pope St. John Paul II said, “Over time this rich Marian heritage of Carmel has become, through the spread of the Holy Scapular devotion, a treasure for the whole Church.”

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


Saint Alice: The Patroness of the Blind and Paralyzed entered the Cistercian Order at the age of Seven

Photo Credit: wiki/Alice_of_Schaerbeek#/media/File:Schaerbeek_Eglise_Sainte-Alice_010.jpg

By Larry Peterson

Sometimes we read or hear stories about certain saints that make us simply “wonder” how can this be? For example here are two;

  • Her name was Nellie Organ but she was called Little Nellie of Holy God. This innocent child understood the Real Presence at the age of two. She inspired Pope St. Pius X to lower the reception of First Holy Communion from twelve to seven.
  • Then we have Marthe Robin, the French Stigmatic and Mystic, who defied all logic and human knowledge by surviving on nothing but the reception of the Holy Eucharist for 51 years.

These two people are from our own time. Marthe Robin died in 1981 after over 100, 000 people had visited her. Little Nellie was validated by a pope in 1907, a pope who became a saint, Pius X. Everything is witnessed and documented yet many refuse to believe. Why is that? It is all about the great gift of Faith.

Here is another for the Christmas season. Her feast day was on December 16, but it was moved to June 15. She was only a seven-year-old child when she entered the Cistercian Order. Her name was simply, Alice.

Alice was born in 1204 in a place called Schaerbeek, near Brussels, which is now in Belgium.  Surnames were often the names of places a person came from, i.e., Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus. Alice was known as Alice of  Schaerbeek.

Alice seemed to be a healthy child but became increasingly frail and weak. At the age of seven, she was sent to the Cistercian La Cambre Abbey in the hopes of her regaining some of her strength.

She was a beautiful girl and had a brilliant mind. Most importantly, she had a great love of God and wanted to do everything she could to please him. Soon after arriving at the monastery she became a laysister (her exact age at this time is unknown; she was probably a teenager), and she would remain there for the rest of her life.

When Alice was about twenty years old, she developed leprosy (medical name is Hansen’s Disease) and was isolated in a small hut. Her illness caused her chronic, ongoing, and intense suffering.  A girl of great faith, she told Jesus that she accepted her sufferings readily and wanted to use them to help the souls in Purgatory.

It was not long after the onset of her disease that she became paralyzed. She was suddenly unable to walk but her challenges kept mounting; soon after the paralysis set in she lost her sight and became blind.

Alice amazed everyone with her demeanor and attitude. That was because she received such joy and consolation from receiving the Holy Eucharist. She was not allowed to sip from the chalice because of fear of contaminating others, but that was not a problem. It was reported that Jesus appeared to her and told her that He was present in either the bread or the wine and that she should not worry because He was with her.

Sister Alice died in 1250, at the age of 46. She had lived blind, paralyzed, and in intense pain for more than twenty-five years. During that time she remained joyful because Jesus was with her and came to her in the Holy Eucharist. Her powerful faith is an example for us all.

On July 1, 1702, Pope Clement XI granted the monks of the congregation permission to honor the Cultus of Alice. In 1907 Pope Pius X confirmed her status as a canonized saint.

St. Alice is the patroness of the blind and the paralyzed.

Saint Alice’s theology of suffering was that of St Paul: “Death is at work in us, but life in you”  (2 Cor 4:12)

St. Alice, please pray for us.

©Larry Peterson 2019