NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local diocese, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church. This ministry - my "little work" - is strictly a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu.

~ Peter, Ministry Administrator

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Green Scapular: A Gift from Mary's Heart

Often enough, I've had people - family and close friends - confide concerns to me over individuals in their lives who are either living in a wayward manner; left the Catholic Church for another Christian denomination; or have given up on Christianity, altogether.  I empathized with each of  their worries... and the advice I offered in return was pretty consistent:

1)  Pray very hard for the person and be patient: trust that God is listening and working on your behalf

2)  Set a good, active example of faith for the person; show him/her what it means to be a true Catholic

3)  Enlist the Blessed Virgin's help, via the Green Scapular

Almost always, #3 was followed by immediate questions: What's a Green Scapular?  What is it for?  How do I use it?  or Where do I get one?  etc...  so this post is for people who are in the same boat as us folks - who worry about the spiritual welfare of loved ones who've strayed from the Lord and His Church - and who haven't yet discovered the amazing gift of the Green Scapular, given to us by Mother Mary, herself.  

About the Green Scapular

It all began with a French nun named Sr. Justine Bisqueyburu. Justine was born in 1817 and entered the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (those nuns with the funny "winged" head-wear) in 1837.  By all accounts, she was a model religious and was described as a "living rule" by another nun who worked closely with her for many years.

While on a discernment retreat in 1840 at the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Paris, France, Justine experienced the first of a series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin while praying in the chapel. Interestingly, this is the same chapel where a fellow sister of her congregation - St. Catherine Laboure (d. 1876) - received the world-famous Miraculous Medal revelations from Our Lady only 10 years before.

The Holy Virgin appeared to Justine dressed in her trademark white gown, draped with a sky-blue mantle; no veil covering her head, but rather, her long hair flowed over her shoulders and down her back; at the level of her chest, the Virgin held her Immaculate Heart with both hands - "a heart all ablaze with rays more dazzling than the sun..." - and it was topped with flames of love and pierced with a sword of sorrow (see the drawing below).  During the same retreat, Justine again saw Mary in the same attire; both times, the Mother of Christ did not speak to her, but the experience left the aspiring nun with a burning desire to love and serve God.

Our Lady of the Green Scapular,
as described by Sr. Justine.

After Justine formally entered the novitiate of the Daughters of Charity, Mary reappeared to her five more times. As with the prior two apparitions, she said nothing to the novice, preferring to smile at her sweetly and encouraging her to a deeper faith life with her visible presence.

On September 8th, 1840 - the Feast of Mary's Nativity - while Sr. Justine was assigned to a convent in Blangy, Our Lady again appeared to the young nun. This time around, the Blessed Virgin held her heart in her right hand, while in her left, she held something new - the Green Scapular.  The scapular was comprised of a single piece of green rectangular fabric attached at the end of a long loop of cord of the same color. On one side of the cloth panel was Mary's image, as Justine had seen her several times before... and on the reverse side was the image of her glorious Immaculate Heart surrounded by the words of a short prayer: 

"Immaculate Heart of
Mary, pray for us now and
at the hour of our death."

Sr. Justine was further made to understand that the specific purpose of the Green Scapular was to obtain the spiritual conversion of sinners, via Our Lady's special assistance.

The visionary obediently reported all her private revelations to her superiors and her confessor, who after much discernment, obtained the necessary church approval to have Green Scapulars made and distributed by the Daughters of Charity.  Almost immediately, extraordinary conversions and physical cures were reported through the prayerful use of the new devotional item, which was also being called the "Badge of the Immaculate Heart of Mary"... so much so, that Pope Pius IX approved the Green Scapular Devotion in 1870.

The front panel (left) and the reverse
image of the Green Scapular.

Sr. Justine lived the rest of her life maintaining strict discretion over her heavenly communications; never seeking personal attention or gain from her experiences (a positive indication of a true seer's credibility).  She ministered in different houses operated by her congregation, humbly caring for the aged and the sick until her holy death in 1903.

The visionary of the Green Scapular

"Praying" the Green Scapular

Per the revelations made to Sr. Justine, the Green Scapular should be worn by the person who it is intended for with the scapular prayer being recited daily by the person.  If the intended person does not wish to wear the scapular, or even refuses it, one can place the scapular inconspicuously near the vicinity of the intended individual (e.g. hidden in the bedroom) and the prayer recited daily on behalf of the person whose conversion or healing is being sought.

I do want to stress, as I did in a prior blog I wrote on the Brown Scapular, that the Green Scapular or any other sacramental - medal, relic, statue, etc. - is not a talisman or "lucky charm", nor is it "magical".  To regard it, as such, would be the sacrilege of superstition.  Rather, the power of the Green Scapular lies in the confidence we put in the Blessed Mother's power to intercede; belief in her unique role as mediatrix of graces between her Divine Son and mankind... and, of course, for any sacramental to be effective, faith in God is absolutely necessary.

A Green Scapular Testimony

I'd like to close this blog with a testimony.  I've handed out many Green Scapulars throughout the years and have personally witnessed signal graces received by people in varying degrees. One situation, in particular, stands out.  It took place in the late 1990's:

A senior lady-friend of mine - "Liz", a regular participant at my then-weekly rosary prayer meetings - had her husband suddenly walk out on her after 40+ years of marriage.  It was a complete surprise to the woman and all attempts she made to reconcile with the man were ignored.  He even went so far as to move to a different state, leaving Liz confused and heartbroken here in Hawaii... but, still, she had her faith to keep her going.

When she confided in me, I made my usual recommendations (numbers 1 to 3 above) and provided Liz with a Green Scapular, which she taped to a photo of her husband that she had on her refrigerator door.  Each time she went to the fridge for something, she looked at the photo and prayed the Green Scapular prayer for her husband: "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death."  Liz prayed diligently for about three months, after which she was awakened at 3:00am one morning by an unexpected phone call - it was her husband calling from the mainland. In short, he asked Liz for forgiveness and wanted to come home and start their marriage "all over again", with no questions being asked.  She agreed... and the husband was back in Hawaii within a week.  Liz later testified to me and our prayer group that her husband was a changed man and her marriage, afterward, was better than ever!

Hence, the power and effectiveness of Our Lady's intercession through her gift of the Green Scapular. Used with proper faith and a bit of perseverance, it really does channel the Lord's divine grace!

*** This lay-ministry currently has a limited supply of Green Scapulars, which are being offered to the readers of this blog at no charge (Hawaii or US-mainland residents only).  If you would like to receive one (one Green Scapular per person, per request), please email Peter with your full name and mailing address at guadalupe_house@yahoo.com (indicate 'Green Scapular Request' in the subject line).  The scapulars have been blessed by a Catholic priest, as well as, prayed over and touched to a relic of Our Lady's veil in this ministry's custody.


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