Friday, October 05, 2007

On the Scapular Promise, October Medals and Sacramentals in General

Yesterday, during Mentoring Time, one of the students asked me question out-of-the-blue which made me think. He was asking about the Scapular promise. "Cher, is it true that if I die wearing the brown Scapular, I will not go to hell?" Another student quickly added, "What if I commit suicide while wearing the brown Scapular, will I go to heaven?"

The Scapular promise is said to have been given by Our Lady to Saint Simon Stock as a pledge of her maternal love and protection saying: "Whosoever dies wearing this Brown Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire." While I have always believed in that promise, I think it should not be taken too literally, especially in the sense of the second question.

Killing oneself in despair is definitely contrary to what Our Blessed Mother would want any of us to do. I ask, "What if somebody tries to steal from a bank and wears a brown Scapular just in case he gets shot by the police and dies?" Obviously enough, using the Scapular in that sense is ridiculous! It is almost as if the Scapular is a magic badge that will protect us from the never-dying flames of hell almost as certainly as the Survivor "immunity necklace" would surely save you from being voted out of camp!

This morning, the traditional October medals were blessed and distributed and we teachers and the students are now wearing them, but why? Are they supposed to have the same kind of effect the Brown Scapular is said to have? Must we wear them as passports to heaven?

Brown Scapulars and October Medals are passports to heaven but only if we use them properly, that is, with true love and devotion to Our Blessed Mother. True love and devotion does not end however in wearing these religious objects but must always translate into faithful imitation of Our Lady's virtues and struggle to wear them worthily with purity of heart and holiness of life.

These articles are not magic amulets but sacramentals-channels and instruments through which God draws near to us and through which we draw near to God. Without our real drawing close to God, these sacramentals will not serve their real purpose, will not be effective.

May our wearing of these articles of faith help us to become really close to Our Mother and to her Son Jesus Christ by our imitation of her following him closely and loving him faithfully. Thanks to the two students whose questions helped remind us again of the real value of these objects of our love and devotion.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Marini Out, Marini In

The Holy Father has moved former Papal Master of Ceremonies, Archbishop Piero Marini, as President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses and has appointed Mons. Guido Marini, until then Chancellor of the Diocese of Genoa to replace him.

The liturgy certainly owes much to the contributions of Archbishop Marini, whose service greatly influenced the way Catholics view and celebrate their worship. Although not always well received by everyone in the Church, his emphasis on liturgical inculturation expanded the horizons of what we thought possible in the liturgy, to embrace and unite particular peoples' unique expressions of faith into the official act of worship of the Church Universal. The liturgies that he has prepared and directed allowed many of us to glimpse, not only the beauty of liturgical worship, but the vibrance, diversity and dynamism of the Body of Christ alive and active in all its members around the world.

We welcome also with great hope Mons. Guido Marini whose mileage of learning, plethora of gifts and bounty of experience will certainly contribute to the liturgical tradition of the Church. Prior to his appointment, he has served in his diocese not only as liturgist but also as a teacher of canon law and a formator of priests.