Catholic Home - Brownie scapulars and a path to salvation

Photo: Rachel Bauer Photo: Rachel Bauer

The Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock to bestow an eternal promise

Near the end of first Communion Mass — when children and parents alike are tired, but filled with joy — some priests have each first communicant approach the altar one more time to receive the brown Carmelite scapular.

Tradition says that the Blessed Virgin Mary gave the scapular, a sacramental and symbol of devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251, in Cambridge, England. He was a member of the Carmelite Order. She reportedly told him, “Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.”

That’s called the “Sabbatine Privilege,” or the intercession of Mary to take the soul of the person who wears a scapular to heaven on the first Saturday after his or her death. But the church and the Carmelites don’t want us to dwell on that promise. Rather, they say, it is better to remember the words of St. John of the Cross, also a Carmelite: “Strive to preserve your heart in peace; let no event of this world disturb it; reflect that all must come to an end.”

In other words, the church does not say the scapular is a sure ticket to heaven. You still have to be in a state of grace, ask for forgiveness and do good works.

The scapular as the laity wears it today originated from the habits worn by some monastic orders, beginning with the Benedictines and later adopted by other religious communities, including the Carmelites. It is a piece of cloth that goes over the head and drapes down the front and back of the monk or friar. Over time, the laity adopted a small version. Some have images of Our Lady of Mount Carmel or the Carmelite shield. All told, there are 18 different scapulars — distinguished by color, symbolism and devotion — that have been approved by the church. Most signify a person’s affiliation with a particular confraternity, the best-known being Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Since St. Simon Stock’s feast day falls on July 16, at the height of picnic season in the Northwest, I thought it would be fitting to make brownies with caramel sauce to resemble scapulars. You can’t just have one. These treats always come in pairs.  

‘Scapular’ brownies with caramel sauce 

- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

Butter an 8-inch square cake pan. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Melt the butter and chocolate together over low heat, stirring often and taking care not to burn the chocolate. Remove from heat. Stir in the sugar, then the eggs and vanilla. Mix in the flour and the nuts, if you are using them. Pour into the cake pan and place on the oven’s center rack. Bake for 12–15 minutes, depending on your oven. Let the brownies cool in the pan and on a wire rack.

I bought a caramel sauce. I heated and poured it into a squeeze bottle so I could paint the crosses on the brownies and make the “cords” connecting the front and back of the brownie scapulars.

Northwest Catholic - July/August 2017

Janet Cleaveland

Janet Cleaveland is a member of the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater in Vancouver.