Donning Mary’s Mantle

My journey to the Scapular and finding one I could wear

It began years ago when I required our oldest daughter to tell me why she wanted to wear a head covering to Mass. Her thorough answer drew on Saint Paul’s call for women to show humble obedience, in part, by wearing a head covering at Mass (as men are called to do by removing their hats).

In the years since, I have seen the bold, wondrous fruit that comes from her, her sisters, and my wife’s donning of their mantles of Mary as they go to Mass. Humility is the gateway virtue — without humility we cannot practice any other virtue.

Their head coverings are not simply garments worn once a week, they are sacramentals and obedience to wearing them includes obedience to living the Mass throughout the week, following Holy Mama Mary’s example of discipleship. That is hard to do and required daily discipline of choosing to keep our eyes on Jesus our Christ. Since, daily lauds, Gospel reading and contemplation, and rosary have become part of our family’s daily rhythm — planting us firmly by the river of life from wherever we have wandered, returning us to Jesus our Christ and giving our will the fuel and openness to God’s grace of striving for humble obedience to God in every choice we make every moment of the day.

Oh! How spectacularly we fail and fall! Yet we are blessedly reminded by the the fortitude instilled in our clay and our soul to rise, eyes on Jesus our Christ, and struggle and strive to breathe God’s breath he breathed into us at our conception into the world. By God’s grace we rise, turn away from sin, cast our gaze about until we find our Lord, and take the one next step forward we can see (see the Trinity Sword Prayer) toward our Beloved.

Is a sacramental piece of cloth, be it a head covering or a scapular, necessary for us to choose this way of life? Of course not — if it was, God wouldn’t be worthy of the name. But they are another weapon, like all the Salvation Arts, we can don to strengthen our soul and clay against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

For years I’ve shunned the scapular because of the almost magic way it is described to work. “Wear it and be saved from the fires of Hell,” is Holy Mama Mary’s promise, affirmed by the Church. Wearing the scapular also means praying the rosary and the Gospel and some part of the Liturgy of the Hours daily. How beautiful and contemplative! I don this mantle of Mary as a reminder to my clay, worn at all times, to humble obedience to my Lord Jesus Christ.

Quest for a scapular to wear

Having decided to wear the scapular, I ordered one — seeking out one that was “100% wool.” Turns out the “scapular” refers only to the two brown wool pieces, not the cord or the image sewn to the scapular. These are nylon — which drives me nuts (admittedly a very short journey) next to my skin. I decided to go as simple as possible — no image, just wool and cord. I boiled the wool (so it would be tough enough to run the cord directly through, no sewing!), cut it to size, used a darning needle to draw the cotton cord through, and tied it off with an adjustable know so I can snug it up rather than have it long and flopping and in the way.