Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


ON JULY 16, the Carmelite Order and also the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. She is the patron saint of the Carmelites.

The hermits on Mount Carmel in Palestine, who are the forefathers of the Carmelite Order, had already a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin. She was for them the teo tokos, the God bearer, the Mother of God.

In later years, Our Lady of Mount Carmel got associated with the Scapular, the brown cloth which, according to the tradition, was given by her to the English Carmelite Simon Stock.

Mary supposedly had told Simon Stock that anyone who would wear this cloth during his/her life and die in it, would not have to suffer in purgatory.
Of course, this is what we would call in theology a fraus pia, a pious delusion. We may have a devotion to the Scapular but we don’t have to believe in that story of Simon Stock.

Wearing the scapular means that you have committed yourself to her and her cause. Otherwise, it just becomes an amulet, an anting-anting.

There are many other fantastic stories about the Blessed Virgin: her appearances in Lourdes and Fatima and so many other places, stories about the miraculous medal and other relics of Mary. People travel all over the world to visit those miraculous places and pray that a miracle may happen to them, like my friend Adaza did, according to his story in the Sun.Star last week.

I like to tell him that you don’t have to travel that far. A miracle may happen right here in your own self: your conversion to God. All those things fall under that pious delusion, including the many miracles that are supposed to have happened through the intercession of the blessed Virgin.

Miracles in the broad sense do not happen. God does not interfere in his creation as if He is changing his mind about what He has created and about us. The only thing that may happen is that we change our mind about God. And that would really be a miracle, our conversion to God. That is how we have to understand all that talk about the Blessed Virgin and all the other saints. It is all symbolic language: Mary, the Mother of God. God has no mother neither has He a son. God is our Mother, like He is our Father. God is only one and if we want to give Him a name we may call Him Love.

All this does not mean that we should not honor Mary and venerate her. I myself have a strong devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I venerate her with whole my heart because I know she is the most beautiful woman ever created by God. I honor her and I have committed myself to her because to me, she is the perfect model to be followed in my life. ‘Your will be done’ was her prayer to the Angel of the Lord. Like her Son Jesus, through suffering and death, she has accepted the will of God and became indeed the Mother of God, nay: God Himself. That is how God communicated himself to her. That is how God communicates himself to each one of us when we commit ourselves to God’s cause and do His will.

In discernment, we discover then that He is our God, nay: that we ourselves may become like God. Through His grace that miracle may happen to us and become a reality.

(For your comments, email nolvanvugt@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 19, 2011.

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