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Meg wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have only one question, but it is extremely important that I get an official and proven answer. Currently, I wear the Brown Scapular and it has been blessed. I do not fast, say the Rosary once a day nor perform the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as some say you must, in order to receive its merits. The problem is the requirements for wearing a Brown Scapular and what it actually [means|brings about] vary from web site to web site and from person to person.

I have asked priests, searched web sites, and been very diligent in finding an answer, but I cannot find one. Some say there is no Sabbatine Privilege, others say all you have to do is wear it, and others even go so far as to say you can never take it off. I'm a Catholic and I'm just trying to find out:

  • What does the Church officially says about the Brown Scapular?
  • When I say officially, I mean, is it somewhere in the Catechism?
  • Or have any of the most recent Pope's said anything about it?
  • Have any specific dogmas been released relating to this controversial topic?

Thank you for answering this troublesome question!


  { What does the Church officially say about the Brown Scapular? }

John replied:

Hi, Meg —

I'll let those more familiar with the devotion answer your specific question. I'd like to address the idea of an official teaching or answer. This is a private revelation and therefore a private devotion. It's not part of Church doctrine. There is no official Church Teaching or Church answer on the subject. The Church simply ruled that the devotion was acceptable for Catholics to practice (or something along those lines), but no Church document, no Church council, nor the Catechism would deal with this sort of thing. It's strictly a private revelation and personal devotion.

When the Church accepted it, it simply meant the private [revelation|devotion] doesn't contradict Church Teaching and is not harmful to the faithful in any way, therefore it was acceptable for Catholics to embrace.

Nevertheless, Catholics are not bound to believe it, they simply can if they wish. Hence, there is no official Church answer on the subject, because the Church (the Teaching Authority of the Church) doesn't get involved in private devotions.


Mike replied:

Hi, Meg —

You said:
Have any specific dogmas been released relating to this controversial topic?

Controversial topic? If it is controversial, it is due to a lack of knowledge about what the Brown Scapular is.

Here is a link to a MS Word document published by the Blue Army that address the issue.
They are an approved Marian organization:

There are many priests who may not be familiar with the official Brown Scapular Enrollment.
Here is the Brown Scapular Enrollment from the Blue Army for those interested:

To my brother priests: You can print out copies to be distributed through your own diocese, with the bishops permission, of course.

One of the many questions in the "About the Brown Scapular" document (above) quotes Pope
Pius X who was Pope from August 4, 1903 — August 20, 1914. He didn't say anything in any of his encyclicals about it but during his papacy he said the following about the use of the
medal scapular:

“I never intended that Medal be used in Europe and America. I wear the cloth Scapular of Carmel. Let us never take it off.”

His official decree granting the use of the Medal states,

“… the Holy Father desires that the Scapular be worn in its accustomed form.”

If there are good and serious reasons, e.g. extreme allergies to materials, it is true the Medal can be worn. It is better to have a person wearing the Scapular Medal than no Scapular at all.

Whether you are wearing a Brown Scapular, or not, one should always strive to set time aside for:

  • fasting
  • praying, whether it is:
    • with the Rosary or
    • some other private prayer, like reading the Scriptures or
    • the reading the office of the Church
  • and living a sacramental life in a state of grace.

On the Sabbatine Privilege plus:

You said:
Some say there is no Sabbatine Privilege

They are wrong!  In my humble opinion: what's important is that you are striving to meet the conditions of the Privilege.

You said:
others even go so far as to say you can never take it off.

This is a personal preference issue. When I:

  • take a shower
  • go into a pool or
  • take a dip in the ocean

I usually take mine off.  If I plan on going to Confession that day to confess one or two mortal sins, I trust in the Divine Mercy of Our Lord.

Devotions versus Doctrines:

The main purpose of the Catechism is to teach doctrine. Like my colleague John said, the Brown Scapular is an optional devotion, like the Rosary. It's highly recommended but both are optional.  A little bias here because I practice both options.  : - )

If you have never heard of the Brown Scapular, the MS WORD document above should help.  You can get a FREE Brown Scapular for yourself and whole family by just googling for one and, No, it's not just for Catholics!


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