Flower of Carmel
splendour of heaven,
Child-bearing yet maiden,
None equals thee.
Mother so tender,
whom no man didst know,
On Carmel’s children
thy favours bestow,
Star of the sea.
Two of my favorite titles of our Lady are: the Garden of God and star of the sea. They come together under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
A little background info:
Mt. Carmel is a fertile mountain range in northern Israel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Carm-el means valley or garden of God in Hebrew. It is the area where the prophet of God, Elijah, had a showdown with the 450 prophets of baal (1 Kings 18). Mount Carmel is also where Elijah anticipated the Lord bringing an end to the three year long drought. From the mountain’s height a rain cloud was seen coming from the sea.
The order of Carmelites began on Mount Carmel when a group of crusaders or pilgrims came to live there as hermits in imitation of the prophet Elijah (sometime after the year 1190). The order moved and spread out into places such as England, where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock, the sixth General of the Carmelites. She gave him the brown scapular as a sign of her mantle of protection over all who would wear it devoutly.
The physical Mount Carmel is a symbol of the Blessed Virgin. She is the fertile garden of God where he took up residence for nine months. She is where the word of God took root and bore much fruit… the Word became flesh in her. Our Blessed Lady is also typified by the rain cloud. It is she who gave birth to the source of Living Waters to quench our parched earth. God has seen fit to grant us the rain of grace through his cloud.
Insofar as it hovered above the sea, the cloud reminds us that Our Lady is the Star of the Sea, Stella Maris… she is always guiding us to her son and directing us on the path of salvation. The Blessed Virgin leads us safely to shore. Again I reminded how I desperately need her… I would be already lost if it wasn’t for my Star of the Sea.
The wearing of the Brown Scapular is a practice that I want to return to… Mother Mary has given me a piece of her cloth to wear as I engage in battle, to remind me of how much she loves me and wants me to go to heaven. I should wear it proudly as her knight. The scapular is a sacramental brings actual graces down upon the wearer.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel leads us ever closer to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit til we reach safely to shore. And having arrived there after bearing much fruit on earth, may we praise God with her forever.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!