Friday, July 6, 2007

The Green Scapular

When I was 8 years old, I spend the summer with my grandparents, at their farmhouse. One evening, my grandmother gave me the Green Scapular and asked me to say the prayer "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us, now and at the hour of our death" every evening before bed. I kept it next to my bed and said the prayer faithfully. I still have one today.

The scapular was given in 1840 by Our Lady to Sister Justine Bisqueyburu, a Daughter of Charity from the rue du Bac, Paris. She was an heiress who had consecrated her life early to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. During her noviciate, her spiritual director was Fr Aladel, who had also been the director of St. Catherine Laboure. At first, he didn't beleive in her revelations from Our Lady and forbid her to discuss it. It took many years of discernment for the scapular to be distributed. Sr. Justine trained as a nurse and was send to the Crimean war. She made such an impression on Florence Nightingale that the latter decided to base her new nursing order on the rule of the Daughters of Charity. Sr Justine also served in North Africa and found the way to stop cholera transmission among the patients and staff at her hospital. She was a confidente of Pius IX during his emprisonement at the Vatican. It is Pius IX who approved the scapular in 1870 as a sacramental of the Church.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Today is the Feast of St. Thomas, the one who expressed his doubt aloud. He is somewhat looked down upon because of this: we hear him called "doubting Thomas". I think he is "honest Thomas", he said aloud what others might have kept to themselves. He is also "believing Thomas" because of his remarkable profession of faith "My Lord and My God" after Jesus, without scolding, showed him His wounds. St. Thomas triumphed of his doubt by taking refuge in the Holy Wounds of Christ and became the apostle to India and died a Martyr.

What to make of doubt? The Holy Father said "Faith can only mature by suffering anew, at every stage in life, the oppression and power of unbelief, by admitting its reality and then finally going right through it, so that it again finds the path opening ahead for a while."

Doubt is not to be denied, but admitted and put before the Lord. "I do believe, help my unbelief" (Mk 9:24). He will not refuse us and will show us His Wounds so that faith might triumph in our poor hearts.
St. Anthony of Padua said "By doubting, Thomas got to know more deeply and to stand more securely."