Category Archives: Devotions

Keeping Evil At Bay

It’s been a really rough few weeks, and I’m sorry I haven’t posted. We went on vacation to see my wife’s family for a couple weeks, and while we were away, the Lord blessed us by finally closing escrow our our new home. So you know that feeling when you get home from vacation that you need a vacation just to unwind from the trip? Well, I went right into moving furniture instead of relaxing. My goodness, I’m tired!

Anyways, when we got home, our first priority was to have the house blessed so that we could move in. I feel it is important to set Christ as my priority in all things, and simply refused to move a single plate from the kitchen until I had thanked the Lord for His blessing, and protected my home from any evil influence. So I called up a good friend of mine, (one of the deacons that talked me into entering formation) and he was kind enough to come over the day after we got home.

It was not a long, drawn out affair, we simply prayed a bit, read some scripture, and then we went around splashing holy water all over the place. There was however something that my friend said that really grabbed me, and I wanted to share it with you.

He said that our new home was now protected from all evil, except the evil we brought or invited into the house. That’s right, the blessing of the Church can only keep away the evil we do not invite in ourselves. He encouraged us to never invite evil into the house, but I wonder how easy a task that really is.

The internet for example, is such an easy way to invite evil into your home. Whether it be pornography, racism, gossip or hate speech, it is terrible easy to find evil online. We are literally just a few clicks away from bringing in the most evil images and ideas into our home that exist in the entire world. Yes, the internet has been a wonderful blessing, giving us the ability to connect with billions of other people around the world, but that comes at a cost. Just the stats for porn alone is rather surprising, but it is easy to forget that Facebook has more gossip than a southern beauty salon. We must be vigilant to not let ourselves fall down that slippery slope.

What about our friends? Who do we invite into our home? Do we invite people into our home just to sit around and talk badly about other people? Do we track in the evils we encounter at work and in the public sphere like mud on our shoes, letting our families be affected by it?

The truth is, in our modern world, we swim in an ocean of evil. There is nowhere you can go to escape it’s influence. Satan’s influence in this world is immense, and it takes hyper-vigilance to keep that evil at arms length. But at the very least, we can endeavor not to invite it in.

The Scapular of Our Lady of Mt Carmel

I am pro with my scapular. Yes, many faithful Catholics wear the scapular, and I am ever so proud whenever I see it creeping up someone’s back, or I see it hanging out of a child’s shirt. But let me ask you this, how quickly can you knot it so it won’t fall off while you are swimming? Like I said, I’m pro.

All levity aside, today is a very special day for me. It seems my entire life as a Catholic has revolved around our Lady under the title of Mt Carmel. You see, I was born on the feast day of St John of the Cross, and my patron saint is St Therese of Lisieux. I even began formation as a Secular Carmelite for a few years before I decided that road was not mine to travel. Truly, I deeply love Our Lady of Mt Carmel.

So today on her feast day, as I was preparing my reflection for a communion service I have today, I could not help but feel sad when I remember how few Catholics wear her scapular, sad to think of the many who do not even know of this powerful prayer. Rather than go through the trouble of explaining what the scapular is, if you are not familiar with it, I suggest you look here to find out all you need to know.

Now wearing the scapular is not really supposed to be just an act we perform, neither is it a mere devotion. While there are also promises of our Lady attached to the scapular, it is not a “get out of hell free” card either. The scapular, above all, is a prayer.

This can often be hard to understand at first. How can just wearing a couple silly little pieces of cloth be a prayer? I mean, we are used to thinking of prayer as a conversation, often one sided, between us an God. We think of prayer as our endless rattling off of words and requests. This is not untrue, but this form of prayer is just one kind of prayer, the prayer of our active mind. Just as we are more than a collection of thoughts though, so should our prayer be.

A great example of this is the Sign of the Cross that we make as we begin every prayer in our daily lives. This is a prayer of the body, a prayer of identification with the Holy Trinity, and even though it’s words are few, its meaning is very deep and profound. When we make the Sign of the Cross, we are professing symbolically our very identity, marking ourselves as Christians, taking the cross of our Lord upon ourselves, and submitting ourselves to His rule in the Kingdom of God. Yes it is short, but its meaning transcends its mere words and gestures.

In a similar way, wearing the Scapular is like wrapping yourself in Mary’s garments. It is accepting that you are a child, and not just any child, but HER child. It is physically taking a submissive role to our mother, and physically feeling her protective mantle around you. So it is less a prayer of words, and more a prayer of emotion, a prayer of solidarity.

As I go about my day, my scapular often gets in my way. I can feel it riding up towards my neck, or it will get twisted around. As I fix it, I remember that it is there, and that she is there, watching over me. When I take it off to hop in the shower, I again feel myself tugging at her skirts like a needy two year old as I put it back on, and know that she is my Lady. These little actions, these little heartfelt remembrances call me home, and remind me of who I am. Not every prayer has to be wordy you see.

If you wear the brown scapular of Carmel, wear it a little prouder today. Take the time to remember what it means in your life. If you don’t wear it, learn more about it, and see if this devotion is one for you. After all, one can never have enough connection to our Blessed Mother.

Also, today, say a special prayer for those who spend their lives praying for us, most especially that most blessed order of Carmelites.