Is the Brown Scapular just a Catholic “Lucky Charm”?

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Lucky charm, could that be another name for the brown scapular?

Most Catholics are called superstitious simply because they chose to wear a habit other people may see as charm.

Is the brown scapular really a charm that protects people from dangers or misfortune?

Saint Claude de la Colombière once told of a man who tried to drown himself three times. Each time he was rescued against his will. Then he realized he was still wearing a brown scapular underneath his clothing. Determined to end his life, he ripped the scapular from his neck and was successful in the final attempt. God freely gave him the graces he needed and gave him the extra chances to turn to him, but the man remained obstinate in his ways and refused to cooperate.

From this story, the promises of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Simon Stock appears to support the suspicion about the brown scapular. She said,

“Take, beloved son, this scapular of thy order as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire.

It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant .”

The above statement might prompt one to say that the brown scapular is a ticket to heaven but the journey to heaven is not an easy one.

The brown scapular is categorized as “sacramental” in the Catholic Church and works differently than a “lucky charm”. A sacramental such as the brown scapular can dispose us to the graces God wants to give us, but we must respond to the invitation. Sacramentals are conduits of grace that only work if our end doesn’t have a cap on it.

The Catechism explains:

Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and disposes us to cooperate with it (1670).

People who may not have understood clearly the teachings of the church may wear the brown scapular for the wrong reasons, neglecting the extra good work they need to do in order to obtain grace from God. Devotion to Our Mother should be supported with reception of the sacraments and the concrete practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. St. John Paul II, himself a member of the Secular Carmelite Order, praised the wearing of the brown scapular, but warned against the superstitious wearing of it.

According to John Paul II, to secure our place in Heaven we can’t simply wear the brown scapular.

To put it more simply, the “habit” we wear must be based on a “habit” of prayer.

Open your heart to God’s graces and Mary’s intercession by wearing your brown scapular in faith and paying attention to prayers and good works. Do not sit back, do some work as well.

Summarized by Theresa Frances

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