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Before a direct answer is given to the above important question, a brief description and some basic information about the brown scapular is needed. The brown scapular in my possession measures 1-1/8" by 1-1/2", is made of cloth and has a picture of Mary holding the baby Jesus in her arms. Under this picture are these surprising words:
"Whosoever dies wearing this (brown) scapular shall not suffer eternal fire. Mary's promise."
This small rectangular patch of cloth is attached to another similar sized patch of cloth by way of two flat cords which enables them to be draped over one's chest and back. The other piece of cloth also has a message on it underneath a picture of Jesus' face:"Cease! The Holy face of Christ protects me."
Along with this brown scapular came a small information sheet about it which carries the Imprimatur from Thomas M. O'Leary, D.D., July 16, 1941, Bishop of Springfield. In it we read that the aforementioned promise of escaping eternal fire, because one is wearing the brown scapular, was made by Mary to Saint Simon Stock on July 16, 1251.
Mary's Promise to St. Simon StockFor over seven hundred years, millions of Catholics all over the world have regarded the brown scapular with esteem and reverence and worn it in token of Our Lady's celebrated promise to St. Simon Stock on 16 July 1251: "Take this scapular: it shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whoever dies wearing this garment shall not suffer eternal fire." St. Robert Bellarmine explains the promise as meaning that "whoever dies wearing the emblem of Mary will receive the grace of final repentance." (Obviously, to abuse the promise by sinning at will with the intention of dying in the scapular is a grave evil, for God is not mocked. Our Lady is not promising that those dying in mortal sin will be saved; rather that those dying in the scapular will not die in mortal sin.) (Fatima, The Great Sign, p. 121)
The brown scapular wearer is entitled to a unique privilege that other Catholics are not:
And The Brown ScapularThose wearing the scapular become eligible for what is known as the sabbatine privilege. This is understood to mean that those wearing the scapular, reciting daily the Little Office of Our Lady (or the rosary, in the case of the Blue Army members), and observing chastity according to their state in life, will be released from Purgatory on the first Saturday after death (or whatever is the equivalent of the first Saturday in the next life). The privilege is believed to have been based on a bull said to have been issued by Pope John XXII on 3 March 1322 after receiving the favour in a vision of Our Lady .... From this it seems that the Church is willing to accept that such souls will be released from Purgatory soon after death, and especially on a Saturday. (Ibid., pp. 122,123)Wearing the brown scapular is a sign of personal consecration to Mary:We signify our consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by enrolment in and by wearing the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the 700-year-old sign of personal consecration to the Mother of God. (Ibid., p. 120)In 1916, he [Pope Benedict XV] granted an indulgence of 500 days each time the scapular was devoutly kissed. (Ibid., p. 123)Afterwards, the Catholic saint, Alphonsus Liguori, stated the following about the brown scapular:
"Just as men take pride in having others wear their livery, so the Most Holy Mary is pleased when Her servants wear Her Scapular as a mark that they have dedicated themselves to Her service, and are members of the Family of the Mother of God."
Also we read: "Pope Benedict XV granted an indulgence of 500 days [from Purgatory] each time the Scapular is kissed." Furthermore, it is alleged that:
"This Devotion and Garment can be traced back to The Old Testament, to the great prophet Elias and the remaining faithful living in the caves of Mount Carmel, and is recommended to sincere people of all faiths."
A summarizing comment about the brown scapular is then presented and followed by a prayer to Mary:
"Attach then, great importance to your brown Scapular, it is an assurance of your salvation, just as to reject Mary's grace is to invite perdition."
"'O Queen, who art the beauty of Carmel and the mediatrix of all graces, pray for us' (prayer from The Raccolta may be said on your Rosary Beads)."
After all of these authoritative Catholic claims and promises, now the original question which was stated in the title of this article can be more appropriately addressed -- Why do Catholics wear the brown scapular?
Answers For The
Brown Scapular Wearer
(1) First and foremost, Catholics wear the brown scapular because they think they will escape eternal fire by doing so! This misguided trust, as sincere as it may be, is only possible because Catholicism does not teach the only way to escape Hell fire is a submissive faith in Jesus 100% (Jn. 14:6; Acts 20: 21; Gal. 3:26; Lk. 8:21). If they only knew JESUS is the only mediator to the Father (1 Tim. 2:5), has the only name in which salvation is found (Acts 4:12), is the gate (Jn. 10:9), our life (Col. 3:4) and hope (1 Tim. 1:1), then they would never trust in wearing a brown scapular again, even if the message allegedly originated through a vision from Mary and has a pope's endorsement!
(2) Among other reasons, the Bible was written to inform us about salvation (2 Tim. 3:15). Since it clearly does not mention salvation through the wearing of a brown scapular (or anything else) we should not think the message about the brown scapular can deliver us from eternal fire! Since this Catholic message originated from a vision in 1251, we should also immediately be skeptical about it, for now there would be a way of escaping eternal fire that did not exist before July 16, 1251.
Further, since Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and other similar religious groups also claim authoritative visions which likewise contradict the Bible, we can only conclude that it is impossible for God to be the source of all these visions, since they all contradict each other and even more importantly, the Holy Bible! Logically, there must be another source of visions, since God wouldn't (even couldn't) give out all these conflicting messages! The Bible confirms this and reveals who the source is that tries to deceive us through visions. Paul wrote:
"... Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14).
This is a key verse in evaluating visions. The devil wants to deceive us, and attempts to do so under the appearance of a friend (as with Eve in the garden of Eden) or a holy messenger from God through a vision, as apparently was the case in 1251!
(3) Please note that wearing the brown scapular is supposed to be "an assurance of your salvation." Again, in contrast to this, the eternal, written Word of God declares the following about assurance of salvation:
"He who is having the Son, hath the life; he who is not having the Son of God -- the life he hath not. These things I did write to you who are believing in the name of the Son of God, that ye may know the life ye have age-during, and that ye may believe in the name of the Son of God" (1 Jn. 5:12,13, Young's Literal Translation).
Please note the present-tense in that passage. The only true assurance of salvation, that is offered by God, comes from "having" (present-tense) the Lord Jesus. Verse 13 is also explicit as it reveals that only those who "are believing" in the name of the Son of God have true assurance of salvation! Please note the exclusive object of our faith must be Jesus. No such salvation assurance can be found anywhere in God's Word by trusting anyone or anything else, including wearing the brown scapular! In fact, for one to trust in wearing the brown scapular to escape eternal fire shows that he is not trusting in Jesus, which reveals his lost spiritual condition.
(4) Though it is alleged that the brown scapular can be traced back to the Old Testament to the days of the prophet Elias, it is impossible to Scripturally substantiate this claim! There is no Biblical evidence for this claim! Furthermore, kissing an object can only be associated with idolatry, and never true worship of God, which has never included the use of a graven image of man, woman, etc. in any form (Deut. 5:8-10 cf. Jn. 4:23,24). Therefore, according to Scripture, we have another solid reason to reject wearing of the brown scapular and devotion to it.
(5) Please note the way Catholicism views Mary, as expressed in the aforementioned prayer -- "Queen" and "mediatrix of all graces." There is nothing in Scripture to back up either of these ultra-exalting descriptions of Mary.
Many Scriptural objections could be cited to counter the teaching that Mary is Queen of Heaven or mediatrix of all graces. Regarding this latter description of Mary, perhaps no refutation can excel the clarity associated with the conversion of the repentant, dying thief. If one would check the gospel accounts of the Lord's infinite, redemptive death for every single person, he would notice that Mary was at the foot of the cross when Jesus was dying. In spite of this, the dying thief did NOT go to Mary to get to Jesus, but went directly to Jesus (Lk. 23:42,43)! Please note that Jesus did NOT tell this repentant sinner in need of forgiveness to first go to Mary, the so-called "mediatrix of all graces," so that he could afterwards come to Him! In other words, the repentant thief received all the graces needed for salvation totally and completely without any help from Mary. The Scriptural record shows Mary had absolutely NO ROLE at all in this man's salvation.
Dear reader, be assured that the Lord Jesus will likewise receive us as He did the repentant thief, that is, if we, too, go directly to Jesus in a repentant state as this conversion example reveals. Furthermore, other Scriptures command us to follow this procedure (Matt. 11:28; Jn. 5:40; 6:35; 7:37; etc.)! Finally, if you try to get to Jesus by first going through Mary, you are in disobedience to His directives and you'll NEVER find Him or the salvation He offers! To rely on wearing the brown scapular to escape eternal fire will surely prove to be a false hope and dangerous snare. Do NOT be deceived.
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