History of the Parish, Our Patroness, and the Brown Scapular
In 1924, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church was officially established as a parish of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles with about twenty registered families. In the Golden Jubulee year of 1974, the parish had 320 registered families in permanent residence. In 1976 the Diocese of Orange was officially established as independent from Los Angeles. Today, the parish has about 1600 registered families.</>
Mount Carmel is a mountain in northwestern Israel that is above the port of Haifa. From the earliest times, Mount Carmel was revered as a holy place dating back to the sixteenth century BC. Biblically, it was the sight of Elijah’s confrontation with the false prophet Baal and was a habitation site for early Christians. From around the sixth century when Greek monks established a church and a monastery there, Carmel was especially associated with the veneration of Mary. The Carmelite Order was founded on Mount Carmel around 1154 AD. It was comprised of former crusaders, hermits and pilgrims who had taken up residence there – the hermits claiming descent from Elijah. After the collapse of the Crusader States in the Holy Land, most of the Carmelites moved to England where they reassembled under the leadership of St. Simon Stock. St. Simon, who was elected Prior General of the Carmelite Order, was greatly responsible for its rise and growth throughout Europe.
One of the symbols most closely associated with the Carmelite Order is the Brown Scapular, which St. Simon designed from instructions he received in 1251 AD through a vision of the Virgin Mary, venerated as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The wearing of the Scapular signifies the dedication and commitment of one’s life to the rules of the Order. By the 1500’s both the Carmelite friars and the nuns were in need of reform which was accomplished by two truly remarkable Carmelite saints, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross (both principal characters in our stained glass windows.) Today the Carmelites, dedicated to Mary, have carried their work throughout the world.
By analogy to the scapulars of religious, there are small scapulars that are derived from them which represent a particular devotion or spirituality, usually associated with a particular community. Such a scapular is two pieces of cloth (generally about an inch square), connected by cords and worn over the head. It often has a picture or a particular color, depending on the spirituality it stands for.
The best known and most highly esteemed scapular, and the one most favored by the Church, and by the Blessed Virgin in many of her apparitions, is the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. It is adapted from the scapular of the Carmelite Order and represents a special Consecration to Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Those who wear it practice it a special devotion to Mary. In addition, the person has a special entrustment of themselves to Mary for their salvation. This, in fact, has been promised to those who faithfully wear the scapular: “Those who die wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” This must not be understood superstitiously or magically, but in light of Catholic teaching that perseverance in faith, hope and love are required for salvation. The scapular is a powerful reminder of this Christian obligation and of Mary’s promise to help those consecrated to her obtain the grace of final perseverance.