For the month of August I have chosen to write about the significance of Mt. Carmel—just one of the many sacred sites we will visit in Jerusalem next March (2016). Mt. Carmel became important in the story of who we are, when the prophet Elijah (an Old Testament Prophet and an incarnation of John the Baptist) defeated the idol worshiping followers of Baal. In the time of Kings, Ahab and Jezebel ruled over the Israelite people and had issued an order to kill all the prophets of the Jewish God, Yahweh. Ahab was weak, and followed Jezebel’s lead, and Jezebel being evil to the core, was a tyrant queen who abused her position and power over her subjects. Elijah warned them to change their hearts and as the land continued dried up, and livestock died, Elijah had no other choice but to challenge the prophets of Baal to see whose god was worth following. He invited the prophets to the top of Mt. Carmel and instructed them to prepare a bull for sacrifice, while Elijah himself built an altar of twelve stones (one for each of the tribes of Israel). He instructed the crowd that the deity who acknowledged the sacrifice by sending fire down upon it from Heaven would be named the true God of Israel. Ahab’s people could not command a presence from the Heavens, but when Elijah asked God to reveal Himself the fire came down and burned the wood, the rock and even the water in the trench dug around the altar. God was proving to His people that He could rule over the elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Air and because of this miraculous feat Israel’s idol worship temporarily ceased!
A couple thousand years later the Essenes (A community of Jews known as the Expectant Ones) worshiped and taught about the coming of the Messiah to their children and their children’s children on the top of Mt. Carmel. They were preparing their young women to be the ONE who would be chosen to birth the Christ. John the Baptist (the preparer of the way) was reborn to his mother Elizabeth; while Jesus was born months later to his mother Mary. Since the birth of Christ, Mt. Carmel has become home to Jewish, Christian and Muslim alike. As a part of our upcoming pilgrimage, Mt. Carmel provides us with a once and a life time gift of standing on true Holy Ground.
In 1251 Mother Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock, a monastic at the top of Mt. Carmel. She appeared with a Brown Scapular in hand and uttered these words: “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.”
A “scapular” was originally a type of clothing worn by monks when working. It fit over the shoulders and covered the front and back. The Carmelites were one such group that wore this vestment. Over time, and in light of the apparition of Mary, the scapular became a sign of trust in Mary as well as a commitment to Christ. During the middle ages, groups of lay people began to become affiliated with the monastic orders. The orders in turn wanted to give these lay people an outward sign of that affiliation. For the Carmelites, a smaller version of the scapular was developed and worn. The scapular is a powerful reminder of the Christian obligation as well as Mary’s promise to walk with us when we walk in faith and grace.
In May of 2015 as my friend Lena Nowmos and I stood at the edge of the sea in Del Ray Florida a remarkable and significant sign from Spirit was shown to us. As Lena stood in prayer facing the water line, I waited for her to open her eyes so that we might walk back to the car together. As I waited, I looked down and a brownish colored tag had washed up onto my feet. I thought it was a tee shirt tag so I almost kicked it off, but then something told me to reach down and pick it up. It was a brown scapular representing our Lady of Mt. Carmel. I tried to interrupt my friend to show her what I found, but she asked me to wait because she needed to finish praying. I quickly placed the scapular at her feet so she could experience the same giddy response to seeing it that I did. When she did open her eyes I asked her what she was praying, she said she was finishing up her final round of the rosary. We knew at that point it was not just our own personal desire persuading us to take a tour to the Holy Land, but we were being divinely guided by the Mother to journey to Jerusalem for specific reasons . As the trip grows closer each one of us is slowly coming into the awareness of what those reasons are and why we chose this powerful pilgrimage!
Please feel free to pass on these letters to friends who may be interested in taking this incredible with us. Our deadline for the non-refundable deposits for air fare is by the end of October 2015. If you have any questions or would like to register please contact me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org OR call me at (830) 265-0197.
Prayer to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
O Most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein You are my Mother.
O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech You from the bottom of my heart to succor me in this necessity. There are none that can withstand Your power.
O show me herein You are my Mother. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee. (repeat 3 times)
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in Your hands. (repeat 3 times)