The Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is a devotional article worn by Catholics. Back in the day Catholic schoolchildren were enrolled in the Confraternity (i.e. fraternal organization) of the scapular when they attended Catholic schools or otherwise done so in their parish.
Why am I writing about this? One of the promises of Our Lady is that they who die wearing the scapular will not suffer eternal damnation. This sort of thing can get certain types in an uproar, as it can seem to some to be a license to sin (because I won’t go to Hell anyway, so why not?) It may also be likened to the heresy of “once saved, always saved.”
But I think not. If you wear your scapular, it is rather conspicuous. Not like the crosses that people wear, seemingly mostly for decoration than conviction, to wear the scapular is more a public witness. It is cloth. It peeks out from the shirt your wearing. Not a lot of people wear it. It isn’t fashionable. It hangs down the front as well as the back. It is sometimes annoying and inconvenient. It is also distinctly Catholic, assuming you’ve ever seen one being worn.
As a result of all these points, to wear the scapular is a conscious effort, a distinct from wearing the cross (kind of sad, actually. More of a commentary on the devaluing of the cross’ meaning.) Anyone wears the cross, few wear the scapular.
So, instead of being a guarantee of eternal salvation, it is a guarantee that you will not go to Hell. So, what’s the difference? Purgatory is the difference. It is a visible reminder to the wearer that they are still accountable for their sins, and will still suffer for them.
Not a bad idea, a constant reminder of mortality and the resulting effects of the decisions of one’s life.
“Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return,” the priest says this or something close when he spreads ashes on your forehead on Ash Wednesday.
So, you might not go to Hell, but you might spend much time in Purgatory. Makes you want to start your Purgatory now, rather than later. At least now you can merit from accepting the suffering that enters your life, and possibly start amending it.
(Author’s note: although this post has a postdate of July 16th – the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel – , it was actually written in August.)