Brown Scapular/Substituting Rosary Question

I just got enrolled in the Brown Scapular Confraternity today. I do not however remember the priest explicitly saying I may substitute 5 decades of the rosary for the Little Office. Must he explicitly say this to me or am I allowed to just go ahead and substitute the 5 decades in place of the Little Office?

On that note, I gotta learn how to pray the Little Office…


It’s great that you have enrolled in the Scapular Confraternity.

The requirement for the Little Office was removed a long time ago.

You can review the current Scapular Catechesis for the Carmelite order here (click on the link for PDF), which explains the current Carmelite spirituality that scapular wearers practice.

In particular:

What is this Carmelite spirituality that one must practice in order to have an affiliation with the
Carmelite Order?

The spirituality of the Carmelite Order is one of the preeminent spiritual traditions of the
Catholic Church. It is difficult to reduce this spirituality to a few sentences. One who wears the
scapular should certainly reflect upon the teachings of the great Carmelite saints, three of whom
are doctors of the Church.

A few basic introductory principles of Carmelite spirituality would be

  • frequent participation in the Mass and reception of Holy Communion;
  • frequent reading of and meditation on the Word of God in Sacred Scripture;
  • the regular praying of at least part of the Liturgy of the Hours;
  • imitation of and devotion to Mary, the woman of faith who hears the Word of God and puts it
    into practice;
  • the practice of the virtues, notably charity, chastity (according to one’s state of life), and
    obedience to the will of God.

Thank you so much!!! Goodness I need to catch up with these things

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Not a problem. There is a great deal of misinformation online about the Brown Scapular.
There are also people who prefer to practice it according to the old traditional manner of saying the Little Office. This is okay because it is a “devotion to Mary” and falls within the basic principles listed above. But it is not a requirement that you pray the Little Office, you don’t have to get a priest to excuse you from praying it, and it seems like the Carmelites now recommend the LOTH, in keeping with the Church at large tending to recommend the LOTH nowadays.

I have been wearing the Brown Scapular for several years and I pretty much just do Daily Mass (as much as I can), Marian devotions like the Rosary and First Saturdays, and practice of the virtues/ trying to imitate Mary. I was also reading Scripture fairly frequently until this year when I have been trying to focus on some other devotions.
Eventually I will pray the LOTH but as that requires a significant time commitment and would need to be prioritized over other devotions, I’m not “there” yet.


Thank you for this information. I wish I would have found this before enrolling. Still would have enrolled, but it would have been nice to know, lol.

I think I will learn the Little Office as one of my Marian devotions and try to make at least one daily mass per week. Along with the Rosary. I am also not at the LOTH level yet.

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Congratulations and God reward you! May you be blessed with the grace of perseverance in your vocation.

One curious question, though: were you enrolled in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or were you received into the Confraternity of the Scapular of Carmel? It’s an important question because those are two entirely different things.

The Carmelite Order is responsible for the Confraternity of the Scapular of Carmel and as they state on their official page for the Scapular Confraternity, reception into the Confraternity "is the prerogative of an authorized person who acts in the name of the Order."

And just like I received a certificate decades ago when I joined the Rosary Confraternity, there is an inscription in a membership book and reception of a certificate for those who are received as members in the Scapular Confraternity.

The reception takes place according to the proper rite approved by the Holy See, by means of enrolment in the Scapular. The Scapular consists of two brown or dark pieces of material, joined together by two ribbons. For receptions, the name of the faithful and the date must be registered in a book kept for the purpose. On this occasion, a certificate with the name of the Confraternity or of the Church to which the person enrolled belongs may be given.

Notice that the Carmelite Order does not oblige any person to use wool or any particular fabric for the Brown Scapular.

Concerning the prayers, assuming that you were received as a member of the Confraternity of the Scapular of Carmel, the website of the Carmelite General Curia states this:

The members are bound to set aside regularly time to be with God in prayer, frequent participation in the Eucharist, daily recitation of one of the Hours of the Liturgy or of some Psalms or the rosary or other equivalent prayers.

Notice the term “are bound”… that indicates the binding obligation of membership in the Scapular Confraternity. And this is why I asked if you were enrolled in the Scapular or if you were received as a member because if you were enrolled, there is no binding obligation but if you were received as a member, there is an obligation and the priest who received you into the Confraternity on behalf of the Carmelite Order was derelict in his duty to inform you of your obligation.

I know that we are supposed to provide brief answers here on CAF, but I’m sure you want an authoritative response, too. So I wanted to give you a thorough answer with the documentation so that you can study the Confraternity website at your leisure. To read further on the Carmelite Order’s official website about the Brown Scapular, click here. Blessings in Carmel!


Well I received no certificate and I’m not sure my priest even knows my name to put it anywhere. So I’m assuming that means Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Wasn’t aware there was a difference.

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Who enrolled you, Agatha?
Was it your parish priest, or a Carmelite father or Blue Army/ World Apostolate of Fatima priest?
I’m guessing the former?

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Yes it was the parish priest. I find it very odd that the websites I visited before made no mention of these differences. Seems like important information for those considering enrollment.

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Yes, you’re right, it’s terribly important. The lack of understanding of this distinction to this day contributes to so much confusion.

It is very easy to enroll a member of the faithful in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The difficulty lies in the misunderstanding that arises when priests who do the enrolling may loosely refer to the enrollment as membership in the Confraternity of the Scapular of Carmel (“Scapular Confraternity”), because that absolutely isn’t the case.

I find myself wondering, do the Dominicans have this difficulty? Do members of the faithful mistakenly think that they are members of the Rosary Confraternity? :thinking:

But not to worry @Agatha_Sicily, Our Lady of Mount Carmel loves you immensely! You are clothed in her garment and wrapped in her love!

NDMC icon France

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I don’t think they do, but that’s because people enroll themselves in the Rosary Confraternity by sending in a form. They don’t have to rely on a priest to do it. (And thanks for reminding me, I had forgotten that I enrolled in that a few years ago, although I have been saying lots of rosaries!)

We have had this discussion before about parish priests enrolling people in the Scapular vs actual Carmelite priests or those priests of the World Apostolate of Fatima who have permission from the Carmelites. A while back there was somebody on here whose parish priest had enrolled them and they were very insistent based on what they read on some website, I believe it was this one:

that they had been enrolled in the Scapular Confraternity by their parish priest. I remember trying to tell them that the parish priest could not do that but they disagreed. I think that Mater Dei website has a lot of misinformation.

I remember when I was first enrolled at the Blue Army Shrine that the whole group of us getting enrolled had to write our names down on a little form and give them to the priest who was going to do something with them (I presume register them). However, at a later date I got re-enrolled by a traditional Carmelite father at the Carmelite monastery (because the priest said if you weren’t sure if you were enrolled, why not do it again just to make sure, and I figured maybe he as a “real Carmelite” would do something the other priest didn’t) and he did not take our names. :thinking:

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You raise an important point @Tis_Bearself

Since we received the immense gift of Christifideles Laici from our Holy Father St. John Paul II, the Carmelite Order has tried to emphasize the value of the Scapular Confraternity as a vocation in and of itself vis à vis the vocation to join the Lay Carmelite Order.

Even if the requirement was lifted, you can still honor it. If it were me, I would get the permission.

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