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Dying in the Brown Scapular

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By Marian Friedrichs

My brother died wearing the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. That is, he was wearing it the second time he died.

The first time, Jim suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain due to excessive drinking, under a bridge in New Orleans on June 17, 2016. Recently out of jail, Jim was homeless again after years of traveling, creating art, winning friends, and battling addiction. A long, winding path ended under that bridge, where Jim died alone at the age of 32.

But it wasn't really the end. And he wasn't really alone. A lady was there, and she wasn't finished fighting for him.

My little brother began abusing drugs and alcohol in his early adolescence. Eventually, Jim dropped out of high school, earned a GED, and bounced from job to job while living with our parents and becoming known by local police. Repeatedly, our mother pleaded with him to change course before it was too late. Then he was gone.

When I heard Jim had left home and hopped a bus to New Orleans, I asked the Blessed Mother to stay with him always. For the next decade, as Jim wandered the country, I always pictured him wrapped in her mantle. Finally, in the autumn of 2015, Jim arrived in Kansas City, Missouri, where our older sister lives. For several months, he worked to stay clean and sober and part of our lives. We were overjoyed.

Then he was gone again.

In the spring Jim was arrested while hitchhiking through Louisiana. In June he spoke with our mother, and she could hear how lost he was and suffering. He admitted that he was depressed and drinking heavily. She begged him to go to the hospital.

Two days later, someone spotted Jim lying under that bridge and called 911. EMTs restarted his heart and took him to University Medical Center, where a nurse found his cell phone and called our mother. She flew from New York to her son's bedside; our father, brother and sister-in-law, and younger sister followed.

For a week Jim's loved ones prayed and hoped and waited for news. Our parents called in a local priest, who placed the scapular on Jim and joined the family in praying many Divine Mercy Chaplets. On June 24, my brother died again — this time under a roof, in a clean bed, surrounded by family. He died wearing the Brown Scapular.

Jim's life and death were what the world might call a lost fight. He tried to slay the dragon of alcoholism, only to find it too strong for him. But hovering over him was the one who holds beneath her foot the crushed head of the serpent, and she did not let that dragon take his soul in the end.

My brother was born on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes — the Immaculate Conception who, mighty with God's grace, cleanses and cures. And while Jim did not achieve lasting health on earth, he died before the depression he had confessed could turn into despair, which might have closed his heart against God's mercy forever. My brother died as one who could claim the promise Our Lady made to St. Simon Stock when she presented him with the Brown Scapular: "He who dies in this habit will be saved."

My brother died much sooner than we who loved him would have wished. But he died wearing the Brown Scapular.

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Fr Paul McDonald - Apr 7, 2019

Our Lady of Lourdes, that is, the Immaculate Mother of God, chose her final visit to be: July 16, her feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our Lady of the Scapular!

Faith - Mar 25, 2019

I am sure Jim is in good hand now because of the Family prayers and our Mother Mama Mary his defender. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon her. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen

- Mar 24, 2019

Amen I wear the Brown scapular and I love it

rola - Mar 24, 2019