A few months ago I went to a day-retreat on consecration to Mary in the manner of St. Maximilian Kolbe. I have always made an effort to accept the teachings on Mary, but that’s one hurdle I have not been able to jump over in my 5 years as a Catholic.
One thing that has always bothered me is the brown scapular. The priest said that the essence of the brown scapular is not a relic or a charm, but a sign of devotion to Mary and faith in her motherly intercession, and as long as we are devoted to her, she, whose prayers the Lord does not deny, will pray for our salvation.
In short, although the scapular as a piece of cloth does not save us, what it is a sign of, namely, our devotion to Mary, does.
To illustrate this point, the priest told a store of St. Maximilian when he was in Auschwitz. There were some men condemned to death whom he had tried to convert. He convinced them at least to wear the scapular and trust in Mary’s intercession. All but one of the men agreed. Days later, before their execution, those men made a confession to St. Max. The man who refused the scapular did not and died in his sins. St. Max attributed those men’s salvation to the intercession of Mary. The priest went on to quote another saint (I think Louis de Montfort) as saying, “You can die in your sins if you wish, but not if you are wearing the brown scapular.” In other words, the intercession of Mary is powerful enough to save those who outwardly wear the sign of devotion to her.
This, of course, assumes that one is honest in his consecration, and is not wearing the scapular as a license to sin.
What bothers me the most is that if I say, “I have sinned and will likely sin again, but I trust whole heartedly in the mercy of Christ. I place my faith entirely in Him to save me” I would be condemned for believing in sola fide. But if I say, “I have sinned and will likely sin again, but I trust in the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, whose prayers Christ never denies” I will be praised.
How is it that I can say, “You can die in your sins if you like, but not if you wear the brown scapular” (assuming a proper understanding of the devotion above), but I cannot say, “You can die in your sins if you like, but not if you place your faith wholly in Christ”?