Friday, July 30, 2010

Your Protests Work - Prof. Howell Reinstated!

URBANA, Illinois, July 29, 2010 ( - Dr. Kenneth Howell, the professor barred from teaching after a student complained about his explanation of the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality, in a class on Catholicism, has been reinstated by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

News spread rapidly of the censure earlier this month of Dr. Howell, whose scheduled classes next fall had been cancelled based on one student's complaint that an email from the professor to students in the class explaining how homosexuality is incompatible with the natural moral law amounted to "hate speech."

The university was soon deluged with opposition from within UIUC and beyond. Even the school's Atheists, Agnostics, & Freethinkers group expressed outrage at the professor's silencing. Howell, who had taught "Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought" at the university's Department of Religion since 2001, had also taught at the school's diocesan-run Newman Center for 12 years.

According to a UIUC statement sent to, the school "will continue Kenneth Howell’s adjunct appointment for the fall semester, and has offered him the opportunity to teach Religion 127, Introduction to Catholicism."

However, the statement itself focuses on the school's decision to pay the salary of instructors teaching Catholic studies courses. St. John's Catholic Newman Center had previously funded the instructors.

"The university values its relationship with the Newman Center and plans to continue offering courses in Catholic studies," stated the school. UIUC also indicated that a university committee would continue investigating the matter.

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney who represented Howell in the case expressed cautious gratitude at the reversal. ADF had sent a letter to the University demanding that the school reverse the decision, or else face legal action.

"We are extremely pleased that the university has asked for Dr. Howell to return to the classroom," ADF attorney David French told in an email Thursday afternoon, calling the move "a great victory for academic freedom, for Dr. Howell, and — crucially — for the students of the University of Illinois."

"The university is continuing its committee proceedings related to Dr. Howell’s case, and we’ll be carefully monitoring these proceedings to make sure that his rights are protected now and in the future," he said.

For more information, visit

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Problem of the Four Brothers

Written by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

ONE of the themes of the Brotherhood Campaign [the Brazilian Bishops’ annual charity drive] invited all Brazilians to reflect upon the maxim: “We are all brothers, we are all equal.” To such reflections, I dedicate my words of today which, regardless of their merit, at least have the distinction of being a column published in a Brazilian newspaper with a very large circulation.

From the outset, I knew the task would be difficult. By heartfelt sentiments that spring from the innermost being, by that special discernment – tacit though it may be – that senses the simple, sublime, great truths of life, and by the mark impressed on him by Christian tradition, the Brazilian is convinced we are all equal and brothers. This is illustrated by the profound historical reality of Brazil’s miscegenation, which is based on the equality and fraternity of the races.

Undoubtedly, the mentors of the campaign realize this. Accordingly, their objective does not lie in repeating worn-out clichés, but in evoking forgotten aspects or correcting poorly understood ideals of equality and fraternity. Only then would they be telling the public something new in respect to these themes.

Having resolved my preliminary perplexity, I searched for something “new” that could be said. It was not long before I recalled some clues.

Equality, fraternity . . . what is the missing word? Ah, it is liberty. Thus my mind reconstructed the trilogy of the French Revolution. And, at the same time, an amalgam of images tumultuously sprung to mind – the divinely luminous teachings of the Holy Gospel, the crystal clear concepts of Roman Law, the medieval guilds, the lyrical tirades of Rousseau, the sarcasms of Voltaire, the blood of the infamous Madame Roland, crying out on her way to the guillotine: “Liberty, liberty, what crimes are committed in your name!”

* * *

Nothing grand, nothing sound, nothing lasting has been constructed in cul­ture or civilization without liberty, equality and fraternity based on justice. Yet the greatest crimes of recent centuries have been committed precisely in the name of unrestrained liberty, absolute equality, and an indiscriminate fraternity.

We need not return to the French Revolution to demonstrate this point. We need only consider the raging son to whom it gave birth; communism, a son who today engulfs the land in violence.

More often than not, the immediate executors of this violence do not under­stand the hazy philosophical and economic lucubrations of Marx. Rather they are moved by a more basic rationale that we could outline as follows:

a) All men are brothers;

b) A brother should desire that his brothers possess every good that he himself has;

c) Therefore, total equality is the natural consequence of true fraternity;

d) Accordingly, all inequality is unjust;

e) Thus, the brother who is a victim of injustice has the right to ask and even demand equality in the name of fraternity. The final consequence of such fraternity is pandemonium, if not indeed crime.

It seems to me that those who have allowed themselves to become entangled in this sophism might learn something by reflecting on the nature of genuine fraternity. Such reflection would also reveal one of the most vital aspects of the Brotherhood Campaign.

* * *

The heart of the problem outlined above is a question readily demonstrable by the following example.

Imagine a family with quadruplets, all boys. The lads are exactly alike in appearance, tastes, personality and intellect. Among them reigns complete equality.


Imagine yet another family, also with four children. But these children differ in sex, age, capability, intelligence and personal appearance. Yet they know how to make these differences complement each other and work together by means of their strong mutual affection.

Now ask yourself this: In which of the two families is the fraternal relationship more ideal? In other words, is this fraternity the result of total equality? Or does it rather spring from a basic equality tempered by an extensive range of diverse, hierarchical values?

Having posed the problem, there came to my mind a phrase of Maurois from his biography of Disraeli concerning a group of this British prime minister’s friends: “As all true friends, they appear to be quite dissimilar.”

Friendship has much in common with fraternal love. Both stagnate and die in the stifling monotony of complete equality. On the contrary, they live, grow and yield abundant fruit in a climate of proportionate and harmonic inequality. With this, the communist corollary between total equality and perfect fraternity topples to the ground. Genuine fraternity does not unleash class warfare and the bloodshed of brothers. Rather it gives rise to constructive cooperation and harmony.

This conclusion, so eminently logical, seems to me of such importance that it should not be left undefended by the support of various citations. I find this support in pontifical documents.

Let us listen to the great voice of Pope Leo XIII: “Once again We declare this: The remedy for these evils will never lie in the subversive equality of the social classes, but in this fraternity, which, without detracting anything from the dignity of the social position, unites all hearts in the same bonds of Christian love.”1

And here we find the lamentations of Pius XII: “Brothers are not born nor do they remain completely equal: Some are strong, others weak; some intelligent, others incapable; one might be abnormal and it could even happen that he might become undeserving. It is, therefore, inevitable that a certain physical, intellectual and moral inequality exists in the same family. . . . To lay claim to an absolute equality of all would be the same as to pretend to give identical functions to the diverse members of the same organism.”2

And, finally, we read the so-often quoted John XXIII, who cites the words of Pius XII: “In a people worthy of such a name, all the inequalities that derive not from chance, but from the proper nature of things, inequalities of culture, of possessions, of social position – without prejudice, be it well understood, to justice and mutual charity – are, in an absolute sense, not an obstacle to the existence and to the predominance of a true spirit of community and fraternity.”3

1. Allocution of 1/24/1903 to the Roman Patriarchs and Nobles [back]
2. Allocution of 4/6/1953 to a group of the faithful [back]
3. Radio Message of Christmas, 1944; Encyclical Ad Petri Cathedram of 6/29/1959 [back]

This article was originally published in the Folha de S. Paulo, on February 26th, 1969.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Well-Prepared Dishes, A Recipe for Charity

Written by Nelson Fragelli
Well-Prepared Dishes A Recipe for Charity.jpg
Nowadays we so often hear: “Home Cooking?! How old-fashioned! Gone are the days sweating over the stove preparing nice dishes. Ready-made meals are a must! Time is precious.”

There is a widespread notion that carefully prepared dishes with special recipes and ingredients are a waste of time. This idea harms everyone and does not consider that nice meals reflect the indispensable dedication and affection crucial to maintaining family unity. Both parents and children feel they are special when they see how much effort is spent on preparing a well laid out meal.

Meals create an ambience capable of influencing personal relationships. St. Francis de Sales said that meals favour the charity Christians should have towards one another.

A meal is a mirror that reflects the real tenderness of a spouse and mother. Pedro Luiz, a friend of mine, married late when he was almost 40. As a single man he stayed at home with his mother who prepared the packed lunch he took to work. Everyday he had different well-prepared sandwiches with fresh fruit juices. From his thermas, his colleagues could smell the delicious aroma of coffee. His tumbler, coffee cup and cutlery were all packed in a leather box within an immaculate and perfectly ironed napkin that could be used as a tablecloth.

None of his colleagues had anything of the sort. They ate their sandwiches wrapped in cling wrap and drank their coffee in plastic cups. However they enjoyed seeing Pedro Luiz eat his light meal.

But one day Pedro Luiz started taking his sandwiches out of a plastic bag bought from the supermarket. For dessert, he had a chocolate bar. His coffee now came from the office machine. And this went on for 3, 4, 5 days as Pedro Luiz ate his vulgar fare. Around the fifth day one of his colleagues enquired:

Pedro, what happened? Did you get married?

No not yet. My mother is spending ten days in hospital because of her rheumatism.

Here we see how a simple meal can carry a message: care or the lack of. Pedro Luiz’s colleagues noticed it and made explicit today’s sad reality: whatever the reason, nicely prepared meals are frequently neglected.

It is wrong to think that the Church, in order to avoid gluttony, recommends fast and abstinence as a general rule for society. There is a time and place for that, but for centuries the Church has always favoured the confection of new recipes as a factor of development.

Christianity benefited all the arts. Under its influence architecture reached the splendour of the gothic style never before seen on Ancient Times. The paintings of Fra Angelico and music such as Gregorian Chant attained heights of sublimity. The same happened with culinary art that had its great development in the monasteries and abbeys.

The Benedictines from the Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy took it upon themselves to elaborate recipes for fish, eggs and vegetables—since they abstained from meat. Everyday the menu served to the monks in the refectory varied. It obliged them to reflect on possible flavours and food combinations. In this way the primitivism of the pagan food culture was left behind.

From Cluny date the first recipe books to be used to educate those peoples still imbued with barbarian customs. As they immersed themselves into the heretofore unknown tastes of Creation, the monks knew that their tasty dishes, so pleasing to the body, would encourage virtues in the soul. They imagined how delicious the mana of the desert could have been, as well as the wine offered by Our Lord Jesus Christ at the marriage feast of Cana. Did not God in this way manifest His desire that men also seek refined tastes? Would this not awaken in souls virtuous desires analogous to those felt on the palate?

“God established mysterious and admirable relations between, on the one hand, certain forms, colours, sounds, perfumes, and flavours and, on the other, certain states of soul. It is obvious that, through the arts, mentalities can be profoundly influenced.” This thought of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in Revolution and Counter-Revolution he repeated and developed in countless talks and chats with his friends.

In the Middle Ages, abbeys were accustomed to give great banquets where both lords and monks—who frequently also came from the nobility—could thus share God’s gifts elaborated with good taste. The sacrality of the rituals of the meal led to a spiritual union that calmed the wild spirits and diminished quarrels.

The monks prepared delicacies out of charity and, in so doing, established an etiquette which in turn elevated the customs. Conversation and courtesy were perfected. Gradually this socialising begot the rituals of civil society that made Europe a model of civilisation. Is this not the highest goal of a meal?

The great abbots of Cluny—St. Odo, St. Odilon and St. Mayeul—had great chefs. St. Thomas Aquinas appreciated well-prepared dishes and ate with gusto. St. Gregory VII like elaborate dishes. St. Pius V had a famous cook, Bartholomew Scappi, who left his recipes in a well-known book.

Almost all heresies, under the pretext of promoting austerity, were against good meals “to which the Church had sold its soul”. Luther, although a notorious glutton, was one of the worst attackers.

In his excellent work French Gastronomy: The History and Geography of a Passion, by Jean-Robert Pitte surprisingly states:

“Luther’s sensual tendency did not stop the Protestant Reformation—especially the Calvinist one—from adopting austerity. To understand this, one must necessarily relate the moral attitude of the protestants to their denial of the Sacrament of Confession. By denying confession, they necessarily live in fear, keeping their adherents in a state of constant anxiety”.

Although surprising, it is nonetheless likely; since the anxiety caused by refusing the Sacrament of Confession—with the resulting lack of forgiveness—leads certain protestant denominations to seek a false austerity by renouncing a pleasure that is not only licit but necessary for spiritual elevation as is the case with a tasty meal.

In the movie Babette’s Feast, premiered in Cannes in 1987, one can find a symbolic example of the harm Protestantism did to Christian culinary art and, as a consequence, social relationships.

Today, with canned food, powdered mixes and the proliferation of takeaways, the preparation of meals ceases to have souls and human relationships in mind. The oven has been abandoned and food factories have taken its place. This type of food represents the triumph of matter over spirit.

I once heard a Frenchman, who loved his meals, ask a friend if he wanted to eat something. His friend responded:

“No, I am not hungry.”

To which the Frenchman replied:

“But do you only eat when you are hungry?”

Many French people believe a good meal especially enhances the relationships between souls. Fastfood tends to facilitate the disappearance of respect for the dignity of the other person.

Although it seems to be a paradox, those who, without necessity, prefer this type of meal may be committing the sin attributed to gluttons who only think of food as satisfying their bodily needs.

One day a family I knew received into their home an old and dear friend who had travelled from afar. He had a special preference for duck with plums. So the family prepared this dish for his arrival. Just before the meal was served, someone gasped:

“This is Lent, a time of abstinence!”

Worried but without any other dish to worthily offer his friend, the head of the family consulted the cannon of the cathedral. Seeing it was an honest mistake and taking into consideration the circumstances, the old priest responded with certainty:

“Serve the duck. In this case, Charity comes before sacrifice. We should do penance, but not impose it upon others.”

Good meals and a table nicely set are part of Christian charity.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

And You Think You Have it Hard!

Current European tax rates
numbers confirmed at

IncomeTax: 50%
VAT: 17.5% TOTAL: 67.5%

Income Tax: 45%
VAT: 19% TOTAL: 64%

Income Tax: 40%
VAT: 19.6% TOTAL: 59.6%

Income Tax: 40%
VAT: 25% TOTAL: 65%

Income Tax: 45%
VAT: 16% TOTAL: 61%

Income Tax: 42%
VAT: 20% TOTAL: 62%

Income Tax: 55%
VAT: 25% TOTAL: 80%

Income Tax: 54.3%
VAT: 25% TOTAL: 79.3%

Income Tax: 52%
VAT: 19% TOTAL: 71%

Income Tax: 58%
VAT: 25% TOTAL: 83%

Income Tax: 53%
VAT: 22% TOTAL: 75%

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Importance of Tradition Today

by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

While walking downtown I happened to bump into an acquaintance who challenged me by way of a greeting: "In your latest article you proved quite well that tradition is an indispensable survival of the past in the present. But is tradition important enough for you to have placed it before property and family in the TFP trilogy?" The question amazed me. But looking at him I realized that it would occur to many people. So I will answer it today.

* * *

Yes, tradition does constitute a high value of the spirit. In principle, it merits, from certain standpoints of course, to precede family and property. In our concrete circumstances, furthermore, tradition has such an important a role that, as I see it, only one word could precede it. It is the word "religion." Indeed, tradition defends today the very premises of civilization, and above all, Christian civilization, the most perfect civilization.

Let me explain. Consider the decades following the Second World War. Innumerable changes in people's way of thinking, feeling, living and acting occurred during this period. When analyzing these changes in a overall picture, it cannot be denied that with a few exceptions they are leading toward a situation violently opposed to all our spiritual and cultural traditions we have received. These traditions are still alive, but they are constantly being attacked by radical modifications. Obviously, they will finally perish if no one stands up for them. But the end of these traditions would amount, as I see it, to the greatest catastrophe in History.

Below are a few examples showing how sophistic distortions of some very precious concepts are corroding some our best traditions:

"Goodness" - According to the modern sophism, a good person never makes others suffer. Now since effort causes suffering, only he who does not ask others for effort is good. Christian civilization modeled the peoples of the West in accordance with the principle that effort is the essential condition for the dignity, decorum, good order and productivity of life. If good is to abolish effort in all fields, doesn't this implicitly deprive life of the values which make it worth living? Doesn't this deformed "goodness," become the worst malefaction?
Teaching children to make efforts to observe manners and love tradition

"Love of children" - According to this saccharine and flabby goodness, "love of children" amounts to sparing them every effort. People try to achieve this by thousands of techniques of instructing and forming children to lead lives without any sacrifice. Obstinate attachment to this idea has gone as far as condemning punishments in school because they make the guilty suffer and eliminating awards because they may cause complexes in the lazy. According to Christian tradition and plain common sense one of the essential goals of education is to form people for the struggle of life by making them acquire habits of effort and sacrifice. What is this "love of children" but a cruel miseducation?

"Simplicity," "unpretentiousness" - One who prefers things that require neither much taste nor much effort is supposedly "simple." Someone who feels good being vulgar is supposedly "unpretentious." "Simplicity" and "unpretentiousness" progressively invade the manners of youths and adults. The rules of urbanity and good manners, the way of organizing one's home, receiving people, dressing, speaking, are becoming increasingly "simple" and "unpretentious." Decorum, brilliance, quality, class and prestige are values of the spirit less and less accepted. However, since these values contain much of what is most precious in our legacy from tradition, life is becoming dingy; noble impulses are withering; horizons are shrinking, and vulgarity is invading everything. The most refined selfishness is triumphing on the pretext of "simplicity" and "unpretentiousness." Yes, refined selfishness: the only refinement left to us.

"Spontaneity," "naturalness," "sincerity" - These attitudes supposedly lead one to avoid yet another form of effort: thinking, willing, and restraining oneself. They would lead one to give free rein to sensation, fantasy, extravagance, in a word, everything. Thus, the excitement of television is stamping out books with their invitation to reflection. Ideas are becoming poorer and people's vocabulary suffers with them. In some circles, conversation is reduced to telling a few elementary facts with a few basic words. Entertainment is senseless jumping and yelling. There is laughter, much laughter; but without much reason to laugh. Any restraint in sexual matters is obviously rejected even more than other restraint. Some people's "sexual morality " amounts to legitimizing all kinds of disorders in order to avoid "complexes." For them, modesty is the great enemy of morality; libertinism is the way to normality.

"Open-mindedness" - An "open-minded" person must accept everything. Bishops or governors, teachers or parents who do not endorse all the above absurdities are narrow-minded despots who want to maintain the yoke of taboos that have become untenable.

* * *

Someone may say: Aren't you talking about the behavior of a few oddballs? Most people don't think this way. Isn't it true that most people are desolated and shocked at these excesses? I agree they may be desolate and shocked. However, I hasten to add, they are also crushed and submissive.

All the advances of these attitudes over the past decade follow the same pattern: a) A minority comes out with a "crazy" folly; b) the majority shudders and protests; c) the minority persists; d) the majority gradually becomes accustomed, adapts itself, and submits; e) meanwhile, the minority prepares a new scandal; f) and this scandal will be equally successful.

Thus the majority gradually enters this new world fascinated, fortified, hypnotized, like a bird in the maw of a snake.

So much reduction of refinement will make it disappear; so much shortening of clothing will make it vanish; so much silence about the fundamental values of culture and of the spirit will lead them to desert the earth. So much fostering and unleashing of disorders will lead them to invade and submerge everything.

Is there any other way to prevent this than by fighting for our tradition, the bearer of all authentically Christian, or even simply human values that this hurricane is destroying?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bus Driver Fired for Refusing to Drive Woman to Abortion Clinic

By Kathleen Gilbert

AUSTIN, Texas, July 20, 2010 ( – An Austin area bus driver has filed a lawsuit against a rural transportation system after being fired for declining to drive a woman to an abortion clinic, citing a violation against his Christian beliefs.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court, accuses Austin’s Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) of having discriminated against Kyle resident Edwin Graning “on the basis of his religion.”

The native Texan told (LSN) that CARTS officials abruptly terminated him for declining to drive a woman to Planned Parenthood’s South Austin facility, after he discovered that the facility performed abortions.

Graning had asked his wife to call the facility; she heard a recording directing callers to call 911 in case of abortion complications. “I said, dear God in heaven, this woman’s gonna have an abortion,” he said.

Graning said that no protocol for orders to drive people to abortion clinics had ever been discussed. “I’m a Christian … I love the Lord and I’m not going to be a part of something like this,” said Graning, a former pastor. He pointed out that the woman quickly received a ride from another bus.

When he told his supervisor that he would not make the drive, Graning says the supervisor replied, “Then you are resigning.” He objected, but was later directed to bring his vehicle and belongings back to CARTS, and received a letter of termination on grounds of insubordination.

To read the entire article, click here.

For more information, visit

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

News from Cuba's Socialist "Paradise"

Cuba prisoners shared cells with rats, roaches

Freed Cuban political prisoners who were flown to Spain this week say their cells were rat- and roach-infested and that disease was rampant.

Julio Cesar Galvez told reporters at a press conference in Madrid on Thursday that "the hygiene and health situations in prisons throughout the island of Cuba are not terrible, they are worse than terrible.

He says "We had to live with rats and cockroaches. It's not a lie."

Galvez is one of nine political prisoners released by Cuba and flown to Spain, part of a group of 52 activists being released in stages by the Cuban government after being imprisoned in a 2003 crackdown.

A 66-year-old journalist sentenced to 15 years, Galvez says there were outbreaks of dengue and tuberculosis in prison.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Professor FIRED for Being Catholic

By John Ritchie
July 16, 2010
University of  Illinois
University of Illinois: Why is the truth
being silenced in the very halls that cry
“academic freedom”?
Shocking news:
The University of Illinois fires professor for articulating Catholic moral teaching -- Register your urgent protest here

Sign the protest against the University of Illinois

Your voice can make a HUGE difference in this case.

Please join TFP Student Action in urging the president of the University of Illinois to stop the persecution and reinstate Prof. Kenneth Howell who was recently fired – yes, dismissed – for simply repeating Catholic moral teaching on marriage and Natural Law.

According to press reports, this is what happened:

Kenneth Howell
Prof. Kenneth Howell
Adjunct Prof. Kenneth Howell, a Catholic, explained to his students that homosexual vice violates Natural Law during a religion class “Introduction to Catholicism.” However, one of his students accused him of committing a “hate crime.” Soon after he was fired from his teaching position.

(Fox News has more details here)

Are we seeing the beginning of a new religious persecution? A “diversity” dictatorship? Why is the truth being silenced in the halls that cry “academic freedom”?

Sign your name here in peaceful protest

Please invite your friends to join this peaceful protest. The easiest way to spread the word is to forward this post to your friends and family. (Non-Catholics can sign too.)

Many good students on campus are calling for Prof. Howell’s return. You can help them defend moral values by signing and spreading this peaceful protest.

Related Updates:

An Update on Professor Howell
Letter and legal analysis by the Alliance Defense Fund

Contact information (Please be polite yet firm)

President of the University of Illinois:

Michael J. Hogan
Office of President
364 Henry Administration Building, MC-346
506 S Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801-3649 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Chancellor and Provost (Interim) of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

Robert A. Easter
Office of Chancellor
317 Swanlund Administration Building, MC-304
601 E John Street
Champaign, IL 61820-5711 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Head of the Department of Religion:

Professor Robert J. McKim
Department of Religion
3080 Foreign Languages Building, MC-166
707 S Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801-3643 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ever Wonder About the Origins of Our Lady of Mount Carmel?

Mount Carmel in Our Times
Mount Carmel comes to memory as the biblical site where the prophet Elias battled the 450 priests of Baal in a public spiritual contest which led to their defeat and ruin as Scriptures aptly recorded (1 Kings 18:19-40). It was also here where Elias sent his servant seven times to the mountaintop to look for rain after years of drought which ended as he proclaimed, “Behold a little cloud arose out of the sea like a man’s foot” (1 Kings 18:44).

We can find Mount Carmel on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, overlooking the modern-day city of Haifa. It rises 1742 feet above sea level and towers above the Mediterranean coastline and its limestone rocks form a cliff-like landscape. The name “Carmel” means, in Hebrew (Hakkarmel [with the definite article]), “the garden” or “the garden-land” because of its renowned lush and verdant beauty during ancient times (Isaiah 35:2). It is known for its cover of flower blossoms, flowering shrubs, and fragrant herbs. Such was its charm and appeal that it was compared to the beauty of the bride in Solomon’s song (Song of Songs 7:5).
Mount Carmel as it stands today. “Carmel” in Hebrew means “the garden” because of its renowned lush and verdant beauty during ancient times.
Nowadays it comes in various names as Antelope-Nose, Har Karmel, Holy Headland, Jebel Kurmul, Mar Elyas, Mount of User, Rosh-Kedesh.

Origin of Invocation
The title of Our Lady of Carmel can be traced back to the hermits who used to live in the renowned and blessed mountain at the time of the Old Testament.

There, this pious and austere community prayed in expectation of the advent of a Virgin-Mother who would bring salvation to mankind much like the holy prophet Elias who ascended Mount Carmel to pray to God for the salvation of the Israel which was suffering a terrible drought at that time.

Elias “went up to the top of Mt. Carmel, and casting himself down upon the earth put his face between his knees” (1 Kings 18:42). He persevered in prayer, and as previously mentioned above, sent his servant several times to the mountaintop to see any sign of foreboding rain. Elias, never wavering in his confidence, received the good news on the seventh try, “Behold a little cloud arose out of the sea like a man’s foot” (1 Kings 18:44). Soon thereafter, torrential rains fell upon the parched land and the people of Israel were saved.

A Prefigure of Our Lady
Elias saw the cloud as a symbol of the Virgin mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14). The hermits took after his example and prayed likewise for the advent of the much awaited Virgin who would become the mother of the Messiah. It became their spiritual mission.

Theologians see in that little cloud a figure of Mary, bringing salvation in the seventh age of the world. As the clouds arise out of the sea without the weight and the salinity of the waters, so has Mary arisen out of the human race without suffering its stains.[1]

Based on the LInstitution Des Premieres Moines, a text most singularly representative of the spirit of Carmel and of its most ancient and quintessential mystical traditions, Elias would discern from that cloud four secrets from God concerning the birth of Our Lady:[2]

1. The Immaculate Conception – because the Virgin would arise as a cloud out of the salty water of a guilty humanity, having the same nature of that water but without its bitterness.

2. The Virginity of Mary similar to that of Elias – because, if she “arose out of Mount Carmel” and “like a man’s foot,” this means she would follow the path of Elias, who ascended Carmel through voluntary virginity.

3. The Time of the Virgin’s Birth – because as Elias’s servant saw the cloud on his seventh try so would the world witness the advent of the Virgin in the seventh age of the world.

4. The Virginal Maternity – because, in that little cloud, God would come down like sweet rain, “without noise of human collaboration,” that is, without violating her purity.
The holy prophet Elias whose prayers to God atop Mount Carmel were answered by “a little cloud...out of the sea” - the forebearer of the torrential rains that would save the people of Israel from their drought.

The Spirit of Elias and the Carmelite Order
Elias led a hermetic life on Mt. Carmel with special veneration for the Most Holy Virgin. His disciple Eliseus, who received his mantle, and other followers, known as Sons of the Prophet as Holy Scriptures described them, participated in his solitude and became filled with his strength and spirit. In a holy hereditary succession, they passed on his spirit and strength to others.

Through the continuous propagation of the above practice, the foundation and development of the Carmelite order began to take root. This we learn from tradition, liturgy, works of various authors and several bulls addressed to the Carmelite Order by Popes John XXII, Sixtus IV, Julius II, St. Pius V, Gregory XIII, Sixtus V and Clement VIII.

One beautiful passage from a private revelation to a mystic relates that after the High Priest of Jerusalem had announced that St. Joseph was to be the husband of Our Lady selected by Our Lord Himself, “the young man from Bethlehem joined the hermits of Elias on Mount Carmel and continued to pray fervently for the Messias.”[4]

The First Church in Honor of Our Lady in the Christian Era

According to a long held and pious tradition, backed by Church Liturgy, a group of men devoted to the prophets Elias and Eliseus embraced Christianity on the day of Pentecost. They had been the disciples of St. John the Baptist, who prepared them for the coming of the Redeemer.

This band of faithful left Jerusalem and settled on Mt. Carmel. There they erected a church dedicated to Our Lady on the same spot where Elias saw the little cloud which symbolized both fertility and the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. They adopted the name of Friars of the Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel.[5]

Controversy Still Unsettled
However, in 1668 a Belgian Bollandist and Jesuit hagiographer, Daniel Van Papenbroek, dismissed the above story as fable or legend for lack of concrete evidence in the March volumes of the Acta Sanctorum. A bitter controversy arose that dragged for years eventually reaching Rome in 1698. Innocent XII issued a decree imposing silence over all concerned parties until a definitive pronouncement could be reached – which was never formally realized to date.

Nevertheless, in 1725 Benedict XIII granted permission to the Carmelites, in an apparent show of support and approval, to erect in St. Peter’s among the statues of founders of Orders and patriarchs, one of Elias with his own inscription fashioned to the effect that the Carmelites have done so to honor their founder St. Elias the prophet.[6]

Be as it may, in spite of the cloud of mystery and controversy surrounding these beginnings, the Carmelite Order has always claimed Elias as its own and has seen in him as one who laid the foundations of the eremitic and prophetic life that formed part of its character.

Establishing Spiritual Continuity and Marian Character

It would take several centuries before historical and documental proof could be gathered as to the existence of hermits on Mount Carmel with spiritual links to the prophet Elias. The first concrete text dates back to 1177 through the writings of the Greek monk John Phocas.[7]

The monastic-style spirituality were practiced and observed on Mt. Carmel through the pioneer efforts of St. Berthold of Mount Carmel, who may have come to the Holy Land from Limoges, France as a pilgrim to visit Elias’ cave, or as crusader who engaged in battle. He gathered other hermits from the West who were scattered throughout Palestine at that time to form a community imbued with the spirit of Elias. St Berthold organized them as cenobites, a monastic tradition that stresses community life under a religious rule.

These first monks who retired to Mount Carmel in 1150 made their center a chapel consecrated to our Lady and from the time of Saint Brocard, successor to St. Berthold and the first Prior General, the nascent Carmelites were to be known as Brothers of our Lady of Mount Carmel. Thus devotion to Our Lady formed a distinctive part of their character and spirituality. “Despite its historical inexactitudes LInstitution Des Premieres Moines shows that the Order is dominated by the two great figures which represent, on different levels, its ideal: Elias and our Lady.”[8]

The Carmelite Rule
St. Brocard championed the cause to have the monastic spirit which they had received from their predecessors be laid down in a holy Rule. Around 1210, it was given to the Order by St Albert, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, and later finally approved and authorized by Pope Innocent IV in 1247. The primitive Carmelite rule initially contained sixteen articles and later underwent some modifications.

St. Simon Stock and the Scapular
Any account on the story of Our Lady of Mount Carmel could not fail to mention the role that St. Simon Stock played especially in relation to the brown scapular. We could trace Simon Stock’s origin to the County of Kent in England where he was born around 1165. Being of English descent, he was also known as Simon Anglus.

In the thirteenth century, during the era of the Crusades, he joined a group of hermits on Mount Carmel who claimed to be the successors of Elias while on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. As the situation became too precarious for them due to Saracen threats, the community moved and settled in Aylesford, England. In 1247, at 82 years old, Simon was elected the sixth superior-general of the Carmelites at the first chapter held there. He instituted reforms to best suit Western conditions and the cenobitical rather than the eremitical way of life. As such, the community came to be regarded eventually as a mendicant order along with the Dominicans and the Franciscans.
St. Simon Stock receives from Our Lady the brown scapular with the promise of the “Carmelitis privilegium”.

However, the order had difficulty gaining general acceptance and suffered much persecution and oppression from secular clergy and other orders which prompted the monks to have recourse to the Blessed Virgin in the year 1251.

Tradition says that Our Lady responded to their call through an apparition to Simon Stock on Sunday July 16th, 1251 as he knelt in prayer. She appeared holding the Child Jesus in one arm and the brown scapular in the other hand while uttering the following words: Hoc erit tibi et cunctis Carmelitis privilegium, in hoc habitu moriens salvabitur (This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall be saved.) On 13 January 1252 the Order received a letter of protection from Pope Innocent IV, defending them from harassment.

St. Simon Stock lived a holy life for 100 years and died in the Carmelite monastery at Bordeaux, France on May 16, 1265.

The Brown Scapular in its miniature derivative as commonly used by the lay faithful.
The Scapular as commonly used by religious orders.
The Brown Scapular
The scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, also known as the Brown scapular, is one of the most popular and celebrated of Roman Catholic devotions. The sacramental as the lay faithful commonly use it is a miniature derivative of the actual brown scapular used by the Carmelites and other religious orders - the sleeveless outer garment falling from the shoulders which is worn as a sign of their vocation and devotion.

As was mentioned, Our Lady gave St. Simon a scapular for the Carmelites with the following promise, saying : “Receive, My beloved son, this habit of thy order: this shall be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire …. It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger, and a pledge of peace.”

The Sabbatine Privilege
Attached to the wearing of the Brown Scapular is the Sabbatine Privilege. The name Sabbatine Privilege originates from the apocryphal Bull “Sacratissimo uti culmine” of John XXII, 3 March, 1322. The papal document declares that the Mother of God appeared to him, and most urgently recommended to him the Carmelite Order and its confratres and consorores.[9]

According to Pope John XXII, the Blessed Virgin gave him the following message in a vision related to those who wear the Brown Scapular: “I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday (Sabbath) after their death and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory, I shall free, so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting.”

Based on Church tradition, three conditions need to be fulfilled to obtain the benefits of this Privilege and the Scapular:

1. Wear the Brown Scapular,

2. Observe chastity according to one’s state in life,

3. And pray the Rosary.

In order to receive the spiritual blessings associated with the Scapular, it is necessary to be formally enrolled in the Brown Scapular by either a priest or a lay person who has been given this faculty. Once enrolled, no other Scapular need be blessed before wearing. The blessing and imposition are attached to the wearer for life.

Feast Day
The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under the title “Commemoratio B. Maria Virg. duplex” to celebrate the victory of their order over its enemies on obtaining the approbation of its name and constitution from Honorius III on 30 Jan., 1226 (see Colvenerius, Kal. Mar., 30 Jan. Summa Aurea, III, 737).

The feast was assigned to 16 July, because on that date in 1251, according to Carmelite traditions, the scapular was given by the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock; it was first approved by Sixtus V in 1587.[10]

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Lourdes and Fatima
As if in a gesture of approval and blessing, the Queen of Heaven and Earth chose to make her last apparition at Lourdes on July 16th 1858, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Likewise, one cannot fail to recall Sister Lucia’s account while describing the vision of October 13, 1917 at Fatima: “…it seemed to me I saw Our Lady in a form similar to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” [11]

Thus through the centuries Our Lady of Mount Carmel kept a constant watch over her children, ever solicitous to intercede for them and lead them to Her Divine Son. Amidst the sea of chaos, confusion and impiety raging in the world today, may Our Lady of Mount Carmel grant us strength and fortitude so we may all remain faithful to Her Son and His Holy Church.
* * *

Click here to pray the Nine Day Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
This novena is normally prayed from July 8th to July 16th - the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but can be prayed at any time throughout the year.

[1] Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Preface and Epistle.
[2] O’Toole, George, “The Religious Order that Defies History,” Crusade for A Christian Civilization Magazine, Jan.-Feb. 1978, p. 20
[3] O’Toole, George, ibid, pp. 20-21
[4] Brown, Raphael, The Life of Mary As Seen By The Mystics, Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., 1991, p.65
[5] Nossa Senhora do Monte Carmelo - Devoção mariana que remonta ao Profeta Elias, Pagina Marianas blog,, last visited June 9, 2010
[6] Lea, Henry Charles, A History of Auricular Confessions in the Latin Church, Philadelphia: Lea Brothers and Co., p. 262. On-line copy accessed on June 10, 2010 at:
[7] De la Croix, Paul Marie, O.C.D., “Carmelite Spirituality,”, last visited: June 9, 2010.
[8] Francois De Sainte-Marie, La Regle du Carmel et son esprit, Edition du Seuil, 1949, p. 33
[9] New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia,
Last visited June 2010.
[10]New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia,
Last visited June 11, 2010
[11]Solimeo, Luiz Sergio, Fatima: A Message More Urgent then Ever, Spring Grove, PA: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property-TFP, 2008, p. 82