Carmel of Cristo Rey Celebrates feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

By Mary Powers

On Sunday, July 16, the Carmelite Monastery in San Francisco held its annual celebration in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Each year, the Carmelites offer Masses on nine consecutive days leading up to the feast day. This year, the celebration included morning Mass with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, all-day adoration, a Eucharistic procession, and Mass celebrated by Carmelite Father Peter Mary Vecellio to finish the novena.

The Carmelites trace their history back to Mount Carmel in Israel where the prophet Elijah defeated the gods of Baal and also where the prophet saw a cloud rise out of the ocean to bring life-giving rain to the region after a long drought—giving the name Carmel, which means garden. In the 12th century, hermits living on the mountain built a chapel in honor of Our Lady and were known as the “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” From there, the order grew throughout the world.

St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite who founded many Carmelite communities in Europe, received an apparition of Our Lady in 1251 in which she gave him the brown scapular saying, “Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.” The scapular is now worn by religious and lay faithful in honor of Our Lady’s request.

Speaking of the scapular, Archbishop Cordileone noted that two Marian doctrines are highlighted—Mary’s spiritual maternity and her mediation of grace beginning at the foot of the Cross when Jesus entrusts her to us as our Mother.

“As our Mother, she intercedes for us to her Son, always looking after and protecting those who seek to follow Him and please Him, as she embraces them as her own dear children – helping us in making the sacrifices, self-denial necessary to live aligned with divine love, so that we may have the capacity for the happiness of heaven.”