Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bright Maidens: Scapulars: I Feel Weird

The "Bright Maidens" were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!
Topic: Scapulars
Scapulars: I Feel Weird
An older lady at a Holy Hour recently cornered me in the bathroom to tell me about her life and Catholicism.  She urged me to start wearing a scapular, and explained how her mother, who always wore one, died on a Friday, which means she was only in Purgatory for one day.  According to this lady, the Virgin Mother visits Purgatory on Saturdays and takes all the souls who wore scapulars to Heaven. 
Confession: I have very limited knowledge about scapulars.  I don't even know if what that lady told me about them is true.  I've seen them sold in Catholic stores, and sometimes they come in the mail, but the promises about Purgatory and Heaven?  What is the history behind them?  Where do they come from?   
I deliberately didn't research anything about scapulars before this post because I wanted to present my honest confusion and lack of knowledge about them.  I think other Catholics may have the same feelings, which may be born from ignorance, hearsay, and lack of context regarding scapulars.  This is an aspect of Catholicism that makes me feel...weird. 
I'm excited to read and learn more about this topic from my fellow Bright Maidens and contributors.


  1. Wearing a scapular is a reminder of one's faith. It should not be worn for superstitious reasons (get out of hell free card) nor as a talisman (ward off evil). It's your faith in God that is at work through the sacramental of the scapular. And it's not easy to wear - which is why it is there to remind you of your duty to God. I would research it more before I decided to wear it. If it is the right devotion for you - you will know through prayer.

  2. My cousin wears a scapular medal, which I think is a bit of an easy way out. Scapulars are supposed to be like the big wool ones that religious orders wear-- they're supposed to be scratchy and remind you that you're a Catholic-- they're not supposed to let you get to comfy in the world.
    I particularly love Ask Sister Mary Martha's take on the scapular for those who wear it as a get out of hell free card. She says that the MOMENT you take that thing off, the Devil will get you! It's pretty hilarious. I can't link her blog, but you can google it.

  3. Scapulars are intended to remind us to live a holy life. I wear a brown scapular. There is also a 5 in 1 scauplar, I am enrolled in it, but usually carry it in a pocket.

  4. eh...they don't really do it for me I'm afraid...and, if I'm honest, when I've heard people talk about them they sound more like a good luck charm than anything else... :-/

    Having said that, most of my favourite people wear scapulars.

    Each to his own, but I don't think this one is for me...

  5. I carry one around with me. See post for more. ;)

  6. I was invested in the brown scapular a few months ago, when I was at a holy hour (that was the only time I've been to the church where it was) and the priest encouraged/instructed/(badgered I guess is too harsh a work) who didn't already have one to come up and kneel on the altar to be invested.

    I wore it for a few weeks, having decided to wear it simply because I was told to and felt guilty not doing it (although none of the Marian apparitions are required belief, just encouraged)
    At the time I was given the scapular, it felt like a profound event, but in retrospect, I think I just did it to prove something to myself, and maybe to God.

    A few weeks after I got the scapular, it broke, and I never got another nor wore it again.

    On a side note, a few weeks ago, I was in the restroom of another holy hour, and an older woman (probably the same one you met) started talking to me about purgatory and Mary, and she told me that once you get invested in the scapular, you don't need to get your replacement scapulars blessed.

    Oh church bathrooms, the centers for propagation of sacramentals, apparently.

  7. Thanks for sharing this! I think that's the way a lot of people feel because scapulars are like Unicorns to Catholics; not much is known about them, give eternal life, no one knows what's really true about them, etc etc. :)

  8. Wear the scapular for at least four reasons. First, humility. You know you can't be saved without God's saving graces but even there it is easy to say, "I" pray and God saves me. Remember that we need the help of the Saints and first of the Saints is Mary herself. Second, wear it for penance. As Americans we do nothing for a daily penance for our sins and the sins of the country. A brown, woolen scapular worn is next to nothing but it is something and it may spark other offerings in your heart as time goes on. Third, wear it as a reminder of final things (look it up). One day we will all die and be called to account for ourselves. Remembering the final things daily can be an excellent source of spiritual growth. Finally, wear it for chastity. The promises attached to the scapular require that you have not sinned against chastity. It will be a constant reminder in this unchaste world to avoid sin and, if you lapse, to seek confession as quickly as possible. Also, in a practical sense, if you find yourself in a situation where you are sorely tempted remembering that you have to remove it to sin could be that one last stopgap before you do something serious.

  9. Many people wear lockets with pictures of their loved ones in them, as a show of love and respect. This is how I see it as I wear my scapular. It's not my way of ensuring that I won't go to hell. It's not something I wear for superstitious reasons. I wear it because this is a simple way for me to honor and love Christ and His mother.
    Scapulars can be big, and scratchy, and they don't always really "go" with that new cute shirt I got at JCPenny last week, but whenever I see it, or feel it, it reminds me that I am a child of God. I don't know about anyone else, but I need that reminder every now and again. :)