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