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Placing oneself under the mantle of mercy

They live their lives practicing a spiritual work of mercy: praying for others.

In their secluded Littleton monastery, 10 Discalced Carmelite nuns spend their days in supplication for the Denver Archdiocese, especially for priests, and for the world.

The cloistered nuns are inviting the public to pray with them in their chapel at 7 p.m. on July 14, 15 and 16 to mark the feast of their patroness, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The triduum celebrates Mary’s gift of the Brown (or Carmelite) Scapular, which remains one of the most popular Catholic sacramentals.

The liturgy each evening includes Scripture readings, a homily, the praying of the rosary, exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and blessing and distribution of the Brown Scapular.

“The priest will impose the scapular on those who don’t have one or who have never been enrolled (in the Brown Scapular confraternity),” said Mother Mary of Jesus Doran, prioress of Carmel of the Holy Spirit Monastery. “For those who just want to receive a new scapular, he’ll distribute one to them.”

The “enrollment” refers to a spiritual affiliation with the Carmelites as names aren’t actually recorded. Rather, one accepts and wears the scapular— two stamp-size pieces of cloth attached with a ribbon and worn around one’s neck—as a symbol of belonging to the wider Carmelite family, and of pledging oneself to the protection of Mary and the service of her son, Jesus Christ.

“(Devotees) share in the daily prayers of the Carmelite order and in the worldwide works of the order,” explained Mother Mary of Jesus. “Our Lady gave the scapular to St. Simon Stock in 1251. It puts you under the protection of Our Lady, which is the main privilege of the enrollment.”

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But the scapular “isn’t a good luck charm,” Mother Mary of Jesus emphasized. “You must wear it piously.”

That is, you wear it as a reminder to clothe yourself in the virtues modeled by the Blessed Virgin Mary. The graces of the scapular come as one grows in holiness.

“It’s a sign of veneration to the Blessed Mother and confidence in her protection and prayer,” Mother Mary of Jesus said.

The public is always welcome to call in, drop off or mail prayer intentions to the monastery and to attend the 6:30 a.m. daily Mass. The nuns, who subsist on alms, gratefully accept donations.

“We’re here for the people and their prayer requests,” Mother Mary of Jesus said, adding that next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the monastery’s founding in Littleton.

Roxanne King
Roxanne King
Roxanne King is the former editor of the Denver Catholic Register and a freelance writer in the Denver area.

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