Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Sabbatine Privilege

Tridentine Community News (May 8, 2011):
Following up on our recent series of columns on the Divine Office, today we examine the associated Sabbatine Privilege, an opportunity of great grace given to us by our Blessed Mother.

Originally the second part of Our Lady’s [Brown] Scapular Promise, the Sabbatine Privilege was approved by Pope John XXII in 1322 and confirmed by several subsequent popes. The Carmelite order, which has always promoted and been associated with the Brown Scapular devotion, has also historically striven to make known the Sabbatine Privilege.

The Sabbatine Privilege is a promise by our Blessed Mother that she would liberate from Purgatory, on the Saturday after their death, those souls who met the following conditions during their lives on earth. “Sabbatine” is an adjective deriving from Sábbato, the Latin word for Saturday.

The conditions are:
  1. The wearing of the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The wearer must have been enrolled in the Scapular. [Enrollment is a prayer prayed by a priest upon distribution of the Scapular. It need only be done once in a person’s life. St. Josaphat and Assumption Churches distribute Brown Scapulars and offer Enrollment each year on the Sunday nearest to the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16.]

  2. Living a life of chastity, according to one’s state in life.

  3. The daily recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As alternatives to this condition:
    a. Those who are bound to recitation of the full Divine Office fulfill this condition by praying the full Office instead.

    b. Those who cannot read may instead abstain from eating meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays, unless Christmas Day falls on one of those days.

    c. Any priest with diocesan faculties may commute this condition to some other pious work, ordinarily the recitation of the daily Rosary. Simply ask a priest and obtain his verbal permission. This is a far more practical thing to ask of a layperson nowadays, especially if the requirement is to pray all of the Little Office Hours every day [and that aspect of the condition is not clear].
Questions Raised

Some issues come to mind when trying to come to a modern-day understanding of the Sabbatine Privilege. First, it is not mentioned in the currently in-force 2006 edition of the Manual of Indulgences. That book and its immediate predecessor editions explicitly rescind all pre-Vatican II Indulgences formerly granted. If one understands the Sabbatine Privilege as an Indulgence, then one can reasonably question whether it is still in force.

Conversely, if one understands it as a devotion established by our Blessed Mother, akin to the First Saturday devotion, then one could argue that it does not need ratification via inclusion in the Manual of Indulgences. In this circumstance, it falls under the realm of Private Revelation.

One might also question why some, but not all, members of the Carmelite Order have in recent years ceased to promote the Sabbatine Privilege, under grounds of modern scholarship and compatibility with current Church understanding. Imagine how a faithful Catholic who had practiced this devotion for years might feel upon learning that what he had been practicing was no longer supported.

As we have discovered when examining similar questions on other topics in previous columns, there is a need for Rome to offer definitive clarifications on subjects such as these, especially in this time of restoration of traditional forms of Liturgy and Devotions.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 05/09 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop, Confessor, & Doctor)

Tue. 05/10 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Antoninus, Bishop & Confessor)

Wed. 05/11 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Ss. Philip & James, Apostles)

Sun. 05/15 12:00 Noon: High Mass at St. Albertus (Third Sunday After Easter) – Reception follows Mass in the rectory.
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for April 26, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]


Anonymous said...

I have worn the brown scapular since my conversion to the Roman Catholic Church twenty years ago, in an attempt to show my devotion to Our Lady. Would someone please attempt to explain to me why "modern" scholarship and "compatibility with current Church understanding" should be allowed to have the slightest influence over centuries old canons of devotional life of the Catholic Church? These two death-speak slogans, "modern scholarship" and "current Church understanding" have, in the past 45 years been responsible for the shedding of oceans of innocent blood and the damnation of millions of souls. Why should a faithful Catholic have any response to this hell-speak other than backing with weapon drawn toward the nearest exit?

Dark Horse said...

You mst not be edjumacated. Any right thnking person knows that "modern" & "currnt church udnerstanding" is the standard of right thinking.

Austin-Seal said...

"Modern scholarship" and "current Church understanding" are not NECESSARILY death-speak, but I fear more often than not they are invoked to sweep away Holy Tradition. Dear Anonymous, I am sure that any Catholic who in good faith continues to practise in spirit and truth the customary observances in force before the turmoil of the last 45 years shall receive all the graces and other blessings leading to sanctification, salvation AND EVEN speedy passage through Purgatory.

paul said...

"There is a need for Rome to offer definitive clarifications on subjects such as these": In fact, this has been done repeatedly. As long ago as 1613 the Holy Office forbade the Carmelite Order to preach the "Sabbatine Bull" of Pope John XXII, as it was definitively known to be a forgery (the bull was entitled "Sacratissimo uti culmine", and dated 3 March 1322, though it was fabricated in the 15th century). The old Catholic Encyclopedia of 1911 was also clear about this fraudulent history and is worth reading carefully (
In many decrees during four centuries the Holy See allowed the preaching of the theological content of the Sabbatine Privilege (basically, that Our Lady will intercede at their death for those who have worn the scapular and observed the devotional practices attached to it), but not the bogus history still often associated with it. Unfortunately, these decrees have been little observed.
The US Carmelites have a treatment under the imprimatur of Card. Hickey here: (
I think claims for "holy tradition" can hardly be invoked against so many Church decrees over so many generations designed precisely to clarify the status of the scapular promise and to eliminate unfounded and exaggerated claims.

DMS said...

I wouldn't consider the old Catholic encyclopedia to be all that "modern" but even there the conclusion is that the Bull of John XXII which is the basis for this devotion is apocryphal.

Elizabeth D said...

Hi, this is not all accurate. Please see the Catholic encyclopedia: “The name Sabbatine Privilege is derived from the apocryphal Bull ‘Sacratissimo uti culmine’ of John XXII, 3 March, 1322. In this Bull the pope is made to declare that the Mother of God appeared to him”. The content of the scapular devotion is that which was in effect from the counter-reformation era when this form of the devotion was established by Carmelite superior general Giovanni Bautista Rossi, till fairly recently. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments approved in the 90s a new Catechesis and Ritual for the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is stated to supercede the older form of the devotion and ritual, which is abrogated. One important aspect is that no longer is it supposed to be stated that the person is joining the Confraternity if they are not in fact joining a canonically established confraternity group. There are still plenary indulgences attached to certain feast days but only for people who are actually members of a canonical confraternity group established by the Carmelites. Also there are no required daily prayers but one is expected to practice Carmelite spirituality at least in the minimum form of devotion to the Eucharist and to Our Lady This and more is explained in the ecclesiastically approved Catechesis and Ritual for the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, available from the Carmelite publishing house ICS Publications. The Church has always upheld that the Carmelites have a right to define the form of devotion to their habit, which is what the brown scapular is.

Anonymous said...

get, our lady doesn't have power over life and death, nor does she have authority over purgatory. when the king is present, the queen has no authority. she may have influence, but not authority.

besides that though, i don't know if it's just the writing style or what, but the whole story just sound like hibby jibby hocus pocus. it just sounds all too silly. kind of like chain mail - if you wear this useless scapulara dn tellat least three people about, and then they wear their scapulars, then i will will grant you relief from ten ficticious years of purgatory. ..or something like that.

the whole thing is just not sensible. and you give too much credit to Our Lady. She's a lovely lovely queen, but don't forget she has no authority and no power of her own. she doesn't get to make decisions. especially those as stupid and ridiculous as granting favors for wearing certain clothes. i heard though, that if you wear Georgio Armani, then, when mr. Armani himself gets to heaven, he will grant you ten virgins. stupid.

jon said...

Wow, ANONYMOUS I hope your confessions are not so full of sarcasm and unbelief. We don't give our Blessed Mother credit, we respect her, we trust her and above all we love her. Maybe your mother was a bad example to you growing up but Mary is the women to follow after, as she leads us to her Son, whether you believe it or not.

Kyle said...


What sounds like "hocus pocus" to you is true of all sorts of different aspects of the Catholic faith to Protestants as well. In fact, the expression "hocus pocus" comes from Protestant caricatures of the words of consecration in the Latin Mass: "hoc est ... corpus ..." To Protestants, transubstantiation was just smoke and mirrors. The fact that you react this way to the Catholic practice of wearing scapulars betrays a similar incredulity, which in itself is no virtue. The Catholic faith is based on objective facts, whether you believe them or not. While there may be elements of superstition among pockets of Catholics in church history, that doesn't mean that everything is simply smoke and mirrors.

AR Jacob said...

The confusion about the 'Sabbatine Privilege' is really unfortunate. As it is such a great promise by the Blessed Mother to ordinary mortals like us that somebody in authority did the needful to revive the devotion to Blessed Mother by observing the conditions to qualify for the 'Sabbatine Privilege'.

AR Jacob