Sunday, July 16, 2017

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Pietro Novelli Our Lady of Carmel and Saints.JPG
Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saints, Pietro Novelli

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and seems a good moment to recall the history of this feast and the particular place the mountain, Mount Carmel, had in the Scriptures.

The following is the account of the Old Catholic Encyclopedia on today's feast:

"This feast was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under the title 'Commemoratio B. Marif Virg. duplex' to celebrate the victory of their order over its enemies on obtaining the approbation of its name and constitution from Honorius III on 30 Jan., 1226 (see Colvenerius, 'Kal. Mar.', 30 Jan. 'Summa Aurea', III, 737). The feast was assigned to 16 July, because on that date in 1251, according to Carmelite traditions, the scapular was given by the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock; it was first approved by Sixtus V in 1587. After Cardinal Bellarmine had examined the Carmelite traditions in 1609, it was declared the patronal feast of the order, and is now celebrated in the Carmelite calendar as a major double of the first class with a vigil and a privileged octave (like the octave of Epiphany, admitting only a double of the first class) under the title 'Commemoratio solemnis B.V.M. de Monte Carmelo'. By a privilege given by Clement X in 1672, some Carmelite monasteries keep the feast on the Sunday after 16 July, or on some other Sunday in July. In the seventeenth century the feast was adopted by several dioceses in the south of Italy, although its celebration, outside of Carmelite churches, was prohibited in 1628 by a decree contra abusus. On 21 Nov., 1674, however, it was first granted by Clement X to Spain and its colonies, in 1675 to Austria, in 1679 to Portugal and its colonies, and in 1725 to the Papal States of the Church, on 24 Sept., 1726, it was extended to the entire Latin Church by Benedict XIII. The lessons contain the legend of the scapular; the promise of the Sabbatine privilege was inserted into the lessons by Paul V about 1614. The Greeks of southern Italy and the Catholic Chaldeans have adopted this feast of the "Vestment of the Blessed Virgin Mary". The object of the feast is the special predilection of Mary for those who profess themselves her servants by wearing her scapular (see CARMELITES)."

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Mount Carmel, in modern Israel.

Mount Carmel itself was the site of Elijah challenging the pagans, as we read in 1 Kings 18:

"After many days, the word of the Lord came to Elias, in the third year, saying: Go, and show yourself to Achab, that I may give rain upon the face of the earth. 2 And Elias went to show himself to Achab, and there was a grievous famine in Samaria. 3 And Achab called Abdias the governor of his house: now Abdias feared the Lord very much. 4 For when Jezabel killed the prophets of the Lord, he took a hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty and fifty in caves, and fed them with bread and water. 5 And Achab said to Abdias: Go into the land unto all fountains of waters, and into all valleys, to see if we can find grass, and save the horses and mules, that the beasts may not utterly perish. 6 And they divided the countries between them, that they might go round about them: Achab went one way, and Abdias another way by himself. 7 And as Abdias was in the way, Elias met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said: Are you my lord Elias? 8 And he answered: I am. Go, and tell your master: Elias is here. 9 And he said: What have I sinned, that you would deliver me, your servant, into the hand of Achab, that he should kill me? 10 As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord has not sent to seek you: and when all answered: He is not here: he took an oath of every kingdom and nation, because you were not found. 11 And now you say to me: Go and tell your master: Elias is here. 12 And when I have gone from you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you into a place that I know not: and I shall go in and tell Achab; and he, not finding you, will kill me: but your servant fears the Lord from his infancy. 13 Has it not been told you, my lord, what I did when Jezabel killed the prophets of the Lord; how I hid a hundred men of the prophets of the Lord, by fifty and fifty in caves, and fed them with bread and water? 14 And now you say: Go and tell your master: Elias is here: that he may kill me. 15 And Elias said: As the Lord of hosts lives, before whose face I stand, this day I will show myself unto him. 16 Abdias therefore went to meet Achab, and told him: and Achab came to meet Elias. 17 And when he had seen him, he said: Are you he that troubles Israel? 18 And he said: I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house, who have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and have followed Baalim.  19 Nevertheless send now, and gather unto me all Israel, unto Mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, who eat at Jezabel's table. 20 Achab sent to all the children of Israel, and gathered together the prophets unto mount Carmel. 21 And Elias coming to all the people, said: How long do you halt between two sides? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not answer him a word. 22 And Elias said again to the people: I only remain a prophet of the Lord: but the prophets of Baal are four hundred and fifty men. 23 Let two bullocks be given us, and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it upon wood, but put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under it. 24 Call on the names of your gods, and I will call on the name of my Lord: and the God that shall answer by fire, let him be God. And all the people answering, said: A very good proposal. 25 Then Elias said to the prophets of Baal: Choose you one bullock and dress it first, because you are many: and call on the names of your gods; but put no fire under. 26 And they took the bullock, which he gave them, and dressed it: and they called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying: O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered: and they leaped over the altar that they had made. 27 And when it was now noon, Elias jested at them, saying: Cry with a louder voice: for he is a god; and perhaps he is talking, or is in an inn, or on a journey; or perhaps he is asleep, and must be awaked. 28 So they cried with a loud voice, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till they were all covered with blood. 29 And after midday was past, and while they were prophesying, the time had come of offering sacrifice, and there was no voice heard, nor did any one answer, nor regard them as they prayed. 30 Elias said to all the people: Come unto me. And the people coming near unto him, he repaired the altar of the Lord, that was broken down: 31 And he took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob to whom the word of the Lord came, saying: Israel shall be your name. 32 And he built with the stones an altar to the name of the Lord: and he made a trench for water, of the breadth of two furrows, round about the altar. 33 And he laid the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid it upon the wood. 34 And he said: Fill four buckets with water, and pour it upon the burnt offering, and upon the wood. And again he said: Do the same the second time. And when they had done it the second time, he said: Do the same also the third time. And they did so the third time. 35 And the water run round about the altar, and the trench was filled with water. 36 And when it was now time to offer the holocaust, Elias, the prophet, came near and said: O Lord God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Israel, show this day that you are the God of Israel, and I your servant, and that according to your commandment I have done all these things. 37 Dear me, O Lord, hear me: that this people may learn that you are the Lord God, and that you have turned their heart again. 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the holocaust, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw this, they fell on their faces, and they said: The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God. 40 And Elias said to them: Take the prophets of Baal, and let not one of them escape. And when they had taken them, Elias brought them down to the torrent Cison, and killed them there."

Later, of course, the first members of the Carmelite order lived on this mountain in the 12th century.  There patroness is Our Lady, Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death!

Live well!

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