On May 13, 1917, and then once again each month through October, Mary, the Mother of God, appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. Each of the six visitations was a sign of God’s unfailing love and mercy for all people. During the July apparition, the Blessed Virgin Mary told the shepherd children, “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”
What does this devotion mean and why are the Brown Scapular and the Holy Rosary such important parts of this devotion? The answers to these questions began long before the Fatima apparitions of 1917.
In 1251, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Simon Stock, who was the Superior (or leader) of the Carmelite religious order. She showed him a Brown Scapular saying, “This shall be a sign to you and to all Carmelites: whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire [hell].”
The Brown Scapular should be worn daily as a sign of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but what does consecration mean? To “consecrate” means to set aside and dedicate for holy purposes. So Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means that we set our hearts aside and entrust them to Mary, the Mother of God, who will then help us dedicate them to her Divine Son, Jesus. We want our hearts to become holy like her heart, which was always immaculate (cf. Lk 1:28) – without sin – and completely united to God.
Mary called herself the “handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38) and rejoiced in doing whatever was God’s will. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is God’s will for us and by practicing it in our daily lives we can grow in holiness.
The Holy Rosary is a centuries-old method of meditation which is based on Scriptures. By praying the Holy Rosary we will imitate Mary, who reflected on things in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19) . The more we pray the Rosary and think about Jesus, the more we will want to be with Him, reject sin, and lead virtuous lives.
Wearing the Carmelite Brown Scapular, as a sign of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and praying the Holy Rosary are daily efforts that help us to imitate Mary’s sinless example of living in complete union with God. When we live in union with God, we not only prefer God’s will, but embrace it as our own. We will turn away from evil and turn to God.
In 1917, God sent His Mother to Fatima with a message of hope for a broken and sinful world. It is love that saves souls and it is love that conquers evil. It is love that unites the Immaculate Heart of Mary to God, and it is love that calls us to follow God as Mary did; and that is what devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary truly means. For God is love and all who abide in love, abide in God (cf. 1 Jn 4:16)
- Brown Scapular Enrollment Prayers may be found here.
- Instructions on How to Pray the Holy Rosary may be found here.
- A brochure with Brown Scapular Enrollment Prayers and Instructions on How to Pray the Holy Rosary may be downloaded here.
- Pictures showing how to easily make a Brown Scapular may be found here.