16 July – Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
The Church celebrates on this day the feast of the Scapular of Mount Carmel. The scapular, which derives its name from the Latin word scapulæ, meaning shoulders, is a dress which covers the shoulders. It is mentioned in the rule of Saint Benedict as worn by monks over their other dress when they were at work, and it now forms a regular part of the religious dress in the old Orders. But it is best known among Catholics as the name of two little pieces of cloth worn out of devotion to the Blessed Virgin over the shoulders, under the ordinary garb, and connected by strings. The devotion of the scapular, now almost universal in the Catholic Church, began with the Carmelites. The history of its origin is as follows: During the thirteenth century the Carmelite Order suffered great persecution, and on 16 July 1251, while Saint Simon Stock, then general of the Order, was at prayer, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, holding in her hand a scapular. Giving it to the saint, she said,
“Receive, my dear son, this scapular of thy Order, as the distinctive sign of my confraternity, and the mark of the privilege which I have obtained for thee and the children of Carmel. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in danger, and a special pledge of peace and protection till the end of time. Whosoever dies wearing this shall be preserved from eternal flames.”
It is much to be wished that people should everywhere join this confraternity, for the honor of Mary and for the salvation of souls, by a life fitted to that end.
– The Patron Saint Index
There was a man of the tribe of Levi who had taken a woman of Levi as his wife. She conceived and gave birth to a son and, seeing what a fine child he was, she kept him hidden for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him; coating it with bitumen and pitch, she put the child inside and laid it among the reeds at the river’s edge. His sister stood some distance away to see what would happen to him.
Now Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe in the river, and the girls attending her were walking along by the riverside. Among the reeds she noticed the basket, and she sent her maid to fetch it. She opened it and looked, and saw a baby boy, crying; and she was sorry for him. ‘This is a child of one of the Hebrews’ she said. Then the child’s sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and find you a nurse among the Hebrew women to suckle the child for you?’ ‘Yes, go’ Pharaoh’s daughter said to her; and the girl went off to find the baby’s own mother. To her the daughter of Pharaoh said, ‘Take this child away and suckle it for me. I will see you are paid.’ So the woman took the child and suckled it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter who treated him like a son; she named him Moses because, she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’
Moses, a man by now, set out at this time to visit his countrymen, and he saw what a hard life they were having; and he saw an Egyptian strike a Hebrew, one of his countrymen. Looking round he could see no one in sight, so he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. On the following day he came back, and there were two Hebrews, fighting. He said to the man who was in the wrong, ‘What do you mean by hitting your fellow countryman?’ ‘And who appointed you’ the man retorted, ‘to be prince over us, and judge? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Moses was frightened. ‘Clearly that business has come to light’ he thought. When Pharaoh heard of the matter he would have killed Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and made for the land of Midian.
Jesus began to reproach the towns in which most of his miracles had been worked, because they refused to repent.
‘Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard on Judgement day with Tyre and Sidon as with you. And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be exalted as high as heaven? You shall be thrown down to hell. For if the miracles done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have been standing yet. And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom on Judgement day as with you.’
Take this child away and suckle it for me
The story of how Moses came to be is just one of the many incredulous plots that God has written through the lives of His people throughout the history of humanity. Moses was born at a time in Egypt when the Pharaoh declared that all male Hebrew babies be killed by drowning in the River Nile. The Pharoah was afraid that the large numbers of these peoples would eventually threaten his reign.
Moses’ parents were not spared from this terrifying prospect of having to surrender their newborn to be killed. By a crazy act of faith, without a clue if it was even a better way out, his mother floated her three month old infant in a basket down the River Nile. If I were her, I would have been distraught. “How is this any better than surrendering my poor baby? I am just delaying the inevitable. How will he even survive?!”
However, God had other plans. The Pharoah’s daughter spots the basket, decides to take baby Moses as her own, and by a unexpected turn of events, the Hebrew woman hired to nurse him was none other than his own mother! I imagine the reunion of mum and baby as one of great secret joy! Painful at the start, yes. But she wouldn’t have had it any other way, would she? God’s plans were definitely to build Moses up for grander purposes for His kingdom. And this was only the start.
As I contemplate Moses’ story at this point in my journey, I am sure He has given these words to me for a reason. I am at another crossroad. And I’m standing at the bank of a big decision. These rostered daily devotionals are always uncannily in tune with the seasons I walk in.
We know that God intended Moses to rescue his people from the land of Egypt. He was separated from mum, taken into the home of the Egyptian princess, and fled Egypt after murdering an Egyptian – all within the arc of God’s pencil, sketching out each detail in His plan for salvation. Just that Moses didn’t know. Neither did his mother fathom where her floating basket would send her baby through life.
There have been some decisions in life which I had made through careful prayer and discernment. Those choices needed time to unfold and reveal new paths and horizons. Now that new horizons have expanded, I’ve found myself shrinking back in anxiety and fear – what will happen next, next, next? There are moments of insane courage that cause us to leap out of the familiar into the unknown, and much of that courage stems from the grace of the Holy Spirit who prompts us to action. But we can lose this grace, when we choose to focus on all the uncertainty that lies ahead, and dwell with fear. Do I float my baby down this river in the face of its uncertain course, or do I give up to certain death by surrendering to the fear of my present situation?
I am drawn back by this reminder tonight, that my God is the best scriptwriter on this side of eternity. I could wrest the pencil from His hand and try to dictate the terms of my story. Or I could surrender to His great love for romance, mystery, intrigue, and action. It’s all been proven to me by the lives of our Heavenly family. I could never be more creative than He is – because my God writes straight with crooked lines.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)
Prayer: We pray for each other who are discerning all decisions in life – that we choose the path that brings us life, and enables us to be life-giving to the people God gives to us.
Thanksgiving: We give Him all praise and worship for the amazing story He writes with our lives!