As a son of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parish in Doylestown, PA, my favorite title for Mary is an easy pick. Of course, the feast of Mt. Carmel, which we celebrate every July 16th, has long been associated with the brown scapular. For those of us who wear it, the scapular is meant as a sign of Mary’s protection and a reminder that we are her children.
The actual place called Mount Carmel—a 1,724-foot ridge in the Holy Land—has been the site of a monastery from around the 12th century. Since that time, men and women have lived there, devoting themselves to prayer and contemplation. That is the special charism of all Carmelites: prayer and contemplation.
The word Carmel, itself, is a Hebrew word meaning “God’s Vineyard.” That’s what every Carmelite monastery tries to be: a fruitful vineyard of prayer. At the very heart of Carmelite spirituality, of course, is a special devotion to the Blessed Mother. Just as we would say that Jesus is the New Adam—the obedient Man who undid the disobedience of the first Adam—so Carmelites would tell us that Mary, herself, is not only the new Eve, but also the new Eden.
St. Louis Marie de Montfort says it well: “Our Blessed Lady is the true terrestrial paradise of the New Adam, and the ancient paradise was but a figure of her” (True Devotion, #261). Like the Garden of Eden, our Blessed Lady is, in herself, abundantly fruitful, overflowing with every form of riches, beauties, and sweetness.
Just like Mary, we are all called to be Carmels—fruitful vineyards for God. Through the work of prayer and contemplation, we, too, can bear fruit for the Lord and for those around us. By learning from Our Lady’s example, we may even bring forth that most blessed fruit: Jesus, Himself.