"Uhh, your necklace is on backwards..."
"Why is your necklace double sided?"
I get these questions all the time. They're about my scapular that I started wearing in July. If you're not familiar with what a scapular is, you're not alone. Keep reading to learn more about my 'funny necklace.'
The scapular began as a garment worn by religious such as monks and nuns. It is the garment that hangs in front and back, and covers the rest of the clothing. It was used to protect the rest of the garb and keep it clean.
Here is a picture of the scapular that you see on modern habited nuns:
and on monks:
The scapular was made smaller so that lay people could wear it too. It now is made of 2 square or rectangular cloths hooked together by strings. It hangs in the front and back of a person, over their shoulders, and is worn either under or over their clothing.
Here is a picture of a modern Brown (Carmelite) Scapular:
You may ask, 'Why do you wear that thing? It looks uncomfortable!' I'll tell you, sometimes, it is really uncomfortable. My scapular rides up, tries to choke me, or hangs down making it look like I have a funny tag sticking out of the back of my shirt. Often, it will itch me and I'll have to awkwardly reach down into my shirt and fix it when it gets twisted. But all of these things help it to do what it's meant to do.
The scapular, although it is said that anyone who dies wearing it will be spared eternal hellfire, is meant to be a reminder of our Catholic faith. If it's itching you or bothering you, then it's doing its job, I guess. People may think that it is a mark of being holy. It isn't, really. It's a reminder to try to become holy.
Since I already mentioned the "indulgence" part ( Clarification - IT IS NOT AN INDULGENCE! Many people mistake it for one ), I probably should dive deeper and show you some examples of the miracles associated with the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Carmel. Click HERE to read about the miracles associated with this garment.
The scapular, I have also heard, is a sign of continual penance. In the Bible, Daniel 9:3 says, "So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes." This isn't really a direct reference to the scapular, but I believe that the idea is relatively the same.
The Scapular is an outward sign of your faith and devotion. You will see many people wearing cross necklaces. I see them every day. And, not to be judgmental, but many of the people who wear crosses do not live by the message of Jesus, nor are they active believers. Wearers of the scapular, however, usually don't do it for show... Of course, there will always be the exception to the rule, but the majority do it for their true faith.
This is a picture of a scapular that is identical to mine:
Here is a photo of me and my scapular ( Sticking out, as usual! ):
I have been asked so many times what my necklace is, and I have gotten so many comments about it. When I first started wearing it, I didn't really know how to answer their questions. After a while, though, I have learned how to address the questions and (the best part!) evangelize a little bit while doing it! I usually will tell them how it was worn by monks and nuns, and how they shrunk it for lay people. I will tell them that it is a "traditional Catholic garment" and that it is a "Sacramental Devotional." Then, most importantly, I will tell them why I wear it. "It is a reminder of my faith and devotion to God." If they ask further questions, I try to answer to the best of my ability, but usually they just nod and say, "Oh," or "Mmhm."
Do you wear a scapular? Do you want to wear a scapular? Do you have any friends who wear scapulars? Do you like the idea of wearing one? Leave your questions and comments in the comments section!
How to get one free: HERE
Remember, after you get a scapular, you must be enrolled. Bring it to your pastor at your Catholic Church and ask him to enroll you in the scapular.
Don't forget to comment!