The term “snatchers” may sound very alien if you’ve never lived in Cebu, Philippines, like a UFO kidnapping random people. But if you’ve ever visited my beloved hometown, you’ll know that “snatchers” aren’t exotic animals. They’re just your regular thieves that snatch whatever bodily valuable you happen to be displaying –purses, caps, cellphones, necklaces…even a brown scapular.
I’m serious. I got up-close and personal with a “snatcher” once, who was daring enough to steal my brown scapular. Really. I guess I should tell you right about now that it wasn’t technically a brown scapular –it was the gold medallion version with Our Lady of Mt Carmel carved on it. My mother had me wear gold in place of brown because she didn’t want me to take it off swimming or in the shower (and I was more than glad to because brown really didn’t match my navy blue schoolgirl uniform.)
I don’t remember the “snatcher” being struck by lightning as he took off faster than Forrest Gump but I do remember feeling very vulnerable without my scapular. Why I would feel exposed when obviously the brown scapular couldn’t keep a snatcher at bay was puzzling. But years later, after knowing what the brown scapular’s promise is, I now understand why it was imperative that I have it and why my girls have it.
You see, when Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock she made the promise that “whoever dies wearing my scapular would not perish in the fires of hell”. Clearly, she didn’t promise protection from inconveniences or trials and suffering on earth, only that our eternal destiny would be secured --provided we cooperate by making the choices everyday to remain in a state of grace. (Now that I think about it -- maybe the “snatcher” needed the scapular to be protected from hell himself. In that case, God-speed Mr. Snatcher.)
At a young age, my girls have all been vested with the brown scapular – the original brown one (and thank God brown is the new black and matches their clothes.) They wear it with pride and confidence, knowing that it's a sign of their consecration to Our Lady's hands and that she protects them from the devil himself because of a true story I repeat frequently:
St. John Vianney once informed a confessant that the reason why a boy she liked never asked her to dance many years ago was because he was possessed by the devil and the devil was deflected by the brown scapular she wore. (Which explains why I wasn’t asked to dance much. I’m just kidding here. I knew a lot of totally good boys then. Unless... they wore brown scapulars to keep me away, which would also explain why I never asked a guy to dance once… Again, I’m kidding.)
My girls are wary of devilish boys who will snatch their purity and heavenly destiny. And frankly, so am I because whether I like it or not, they are out there, helpless pawns in the battle between good and evil, and oftentimes, they come in disguise. So I tell my children the truth: Daddy’s shotguns are good within a certain distance but Our Lady’s hands draped across their shoulders are even better. (Not kidding this time.)