BOO! Since Halloween is quickly approaching, I thought I would write about a deadly disease that’s scarier than the Ebola virus — a disease that has infected hundreds of millions of people worldwide. While everyone should be afraid of this disease, very few people seem to care about it. If they had full knowledge of its devastating consequences, they would be petrified and would wear the equivalent of a hazmat suit to protect themselves from the disease.
I’ll talk about the disease in a moment, but first I want to tell you about a movie I saw in the early 1970s, while I was in high school. The name of the movie was The Picture of Dorian Gray.
During the 1970s, the only way we could watch a movie was when it was shown in a theater or on television. Back then, we didn’t have video or DVD players because they had not yet been invented. We also didn’t have cable or satellite TV. All we had were the three major networks — ABC, NBC, and CBS. Like most other classic movies, The Picture of Dorian Gray was shown on television about once a year.
I watched the movie because my mom told me that if I ever had a chance, I should watch it. I was intrigued by what she said about the movie, so I made sure to watch it when it was shown on television.
The Picture of Dorian Gray was a horror-drama film that was originally released in 1945 by MGM Studios. It was based on a novel that was written in 1890 by Oscar Wilde. In the movie, Dorian Gray, a young, good-looking, wealthy man who lives in London, poses for a portrait that is painted by his friend, Basil Hallward.
When a friend of Basil’s, Lord Henry Wotton, sees the portrait, he convinces Dorian that he should do whatever it takes to always stay young and handsome. Dorian makes a prayer-like statement that he would give up his soul if he could always remain as young and handsome as he is in the portrait.
Dorian’s wish is granted and, as time passes, he becomes cruel and ruthless. After he begins his transition to the dark side, he looks at the portrait and notices that the image in the portrait has lost the innocent look that was originally painted by Basil. Shocked by the change, Dorian locks away the portrait in one of the rooms in his house.
As Dorian becomes more evil, while he continues to remain young and handsome, the image in the portrait turns into a reflection of his soul — a wretched, hideous, demon-like monster. Dorian’s friend, Basil, mistakenly sees the portrait and attempts to convince Dorian that he needs to turn his life around. Dorian panics and kills Basil.
As Dorian’s life spirals out of control, he realizes that he needs to free himself from the evil spell that was placed on him when he surrendered his soul. He enters the room where his portrait is stored and stabs the image in the portrait in the heart. He subsequently collapses and dies.
After his death, Dorian’s body turns into the monstrous creature that was shown in the picture, and the image in the picture reverts back to the young, innocent, handsome man that Dorian was when his friend painted the portrait.
Even though The Picture of Dorian Gray is dated, it should be shown to all teenagers, because it does a magnificent job of showing what happens to a person’s soul when the person is seduced by sin.
I sometimes wish I had the ability to see through a person’s flesh and directly into their soul so I could see the person as he or she really is. The disease that I was referring to earlier that is more deadly than Ebola is the disease of sin. Millions of people have been severely infected with this disease. Like Dorian Gray, although they appear to be healthy on the outside, their souls have been severely disfigured by sin.
How am I to know if a boy that one of my daughters or granddaughters is interested in is severely infected with the disease of sin? While he may be handsome and charming, he may also be addicted to pornography. Or he may have a sexually transmitted disease. Or he may have a severe drug or alcohol problem. Or he may have evil desires and intentions. I could go on, but you get my point. The same applies to any person you and I come into contact with.
When doctors and others interact with a person who has been diagnosed with the Ebola virus, they wear a hazmat suit to protect themselves from the disease. Is there anything you and I can wear to protect ourselves from individuals who are severely infected with the disease of sin?
Fortunately for us, there is a spiritual “hazmat suit” that we can wear to protect ourselves from evil people. It is available to devout Catholics and is designed to protect us from others who have been severely infected with the disease of sin. The protective gear I’m referring to is a sacramental that was given to us by the mother of God on July 16, 1251, when she appeared to Saint Simon Stock. While holding a Brown Scapular, the Blessed Mother made this promise:
“Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.”
In addition to the guarantee that any person who dies wearing the Brown Scapular will go to Heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary also promised those of us who wear it that we will receive special protection from God.
The Brown Scapular is sometimes referred to as “Our Lady’s Garment.” It is made from two small pieces of brown woolen cloth. No picture or cover for the cloth pieces is necessary. The two pieces of cloth are attached to a string, chain, or any type of cord. The scapular is worn around the neck (over the head, on the shoulders) with one piece of cloth on the back and the other piece on the chest.
There are only two conditions that must be met before a person can benefit from the promise that our Lady made to Saint Simon Stock:
1. Valid enrollment in the Brown Scapular. Any one of the faithful (including infants) can be enrolled in the Brown Scapular by a priest. A person only needs to be enrolled in the Brown Scapular once.
2. Proper wearing of the Brown Scapular. The person enrolled must wear the scapular over the shoulders, one piece in front and one in back. No special daily or periodic prayers are required.
Although I try not to give unsolicited advice to my adult children, I do harass them about the importance of praying a daily Rosary and wearing the Brown Scapular. Both the Rosary and the Brown Scapular are effective spiritual weapons that protect us from the Dorian Grays of the world.
Devout Catholics who pray a daily Rosary and wear the Brown Scapular are always given the grace to ascertain the true state of a person’s soul before any permanent harm can be done.
Yes, we live in scary times, but God has given us the protective gear and weapons we need to recognize and stop evil before it harms or destroys us.