On July 16, the Church will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which commemorates the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251. During the vision, the Blessed Virgin revealed to Saint Simon the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, popularly known as the "Brown Scapular."
The feast celebrates the devotion that the Blessed Virgin Mary has to those who are devoted to her, and who signal that devotion by wearing the Brown Scapular. According to tradition, those who wear the scapular faithfully and remain devoted to the Blessed Virgin until death will be granted the grace of final perseverance and be delivered from Purgatory early. It is still the custom in many parishes to enroll the faithful in the Brown Scapular on the day of the feast (or on the Sunday closest to it).
As we prepare for the feast, I have chosen a Prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel as our novena of the week. (To end the novena on the day before the feast, begin praying the Prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 7.) This prayer is a particularly popular (and powerful) novena, and many Catholics pray it every day throughout the year. After the novena is over, you might consider making it part of your own daily prayers.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!
(A statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, holding the brown scapular and the Christ Child, at the National Padre Pio Center in Barto, PA. Photo © flickr user jcapaldi; licensed under Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved)