Adapting the heretofore contemplative Order to a mixed life, in a seeming awareness that a marked change was about to take place in the body of Mary's special sons, the saint sent the younger men to the Universities. He thereby alarmed the old men who had led lives of utter solitude on Carmel. However, he recognized that they had been providentially forced from Carmel and, guided by Mary, he braved the ugly dissension that his policy evoked.
But this inward cancer was not the only affliction. Outside the Order, the whole secular clergy was raising a din at the sight of another group joining the ranks of the odious mendicant friars; not only did they persecute the men from Carmel everywhere, but they carried their cries to Rome, demanding the suppression of these "newcomers." Moreover, strange as it may seem, the barred-cloak, which these Palestinians wore, seemed violently to irritate western sensibilities. Saint Simon thought to change it because the unpopularity of the Elian garb was hindering the growth of his family of Mary; he refrained in deference to the views of the older members who naturally loved their ancient cloak, redolent of Elian traditions.
For the first five years of his generalship, the opposition from within and without grew daily stronger. Hence, in the year of 1251 we find Simon retiring to the Cambridge monastery, weighed down by his ninety years and a trial well beyond the strength of even a far younger man. He seems to be seeking the solitude of his cell even as he had been wont to retire to his tree-trunk, in his youth, to pray. Probably he is thinking to himself, as Saint Teresa of Avila said later, "Can the hand of God be shorter for the Order of His Mother than for other Orders?" And it is not merely a question of removing obstacles that confronts the Saint now; it is a question of preserving the Order's very life.
This sickness of the Order that was "fomented by Satan," as a contemporary of St. Simon describes, may put one in mind of a certain "Little Flower's" childhood sickness. Carmel is Mary's Flower, She its blossoming vine; now the Flower droops her head. Let us apply the words of Therese;
"It was an illness in which Satan assuredly had a hand . . . He wished in his jealousy to avenge himself on me for the grave mischief my family was to do him in the future . . . He little knew, however, that the Queen of Heaven was keeping a faithful and affectionate watch from above on Her Little Flower, and was making ready to still the tempest just as the frail and delicate stem was on the point of breaking,"
Yes, the Order of Carmel, Mary's Flower, sinks and droops her head; dissension and persecution, fomented by Satan who hates Mary and Her seed, are the raging sicknesses that stretch her upon a bed of death. Since the worst suffering takes place in the head of a body, the aged General and Saint is the most cruelly weighed upon by the multiple afflictions that beset his Order of Mary. Kneeling in his tiny cell, he pours forth his soul with deep and longing sighs in what has been often called "after the Hail Mary, the most beautiful of all Marian prayers":
"Flower of Carmel,
Splendor of Heaven,
None equals thee!
O Mother benign,
Who no man didst know,
On all Carmel's children Thy favors bestow,
Star of the Sea!"
As the Saint lifts his tear-dimmed eyes, the cell is suddenly flooded with a great light. Surrounded by a great concourse of angels, the Queen of Heaven is descending towards him, holding forth the Brown Scapular of the friars and saying: "RECEIVE, MY BELOVED SON, THIS HABIT OF THY ORDER: THIS SHALL BE TO THEE AND TO ALL CARMELITES A PRIVILEGE, THAT WHOSOEVER DIES CLOTHED IN THIS SHALL NEVER SUFFER ETERNAL FIRE.""
The purpose, the raison d'etre of that long established and special "family of Mary" stands revealed.
"O Mary, who from that hour (that Elias beheld the foot-shaped cloud over Carmel) didst preside over the watches of God's army, without ever failing for a single day: now that the Lord has truly come through thee, it is no longer the land of Judea alone, but the whole earth that thou coverest as a cloud, shedding down blessings in abundance. Thine ancient clients --the sons of the prophets—experienced this when, the land of promise becoming unfaithful, they were forced to transplant their customs and traditions to other climes; they found that even into our far West the Cloud of Carmel had poured its fertilizing dew, and that nowhere would its protection be wanting to them . . . Since their tents have been pitched around the hills where the new Sion is built upon Peter, the cloud has shed all around showers of blessings more precious than ever, driving back into the abyss the flames of Hell. . ." DOM GUERANGER
"This most extraordinary gift of the Scapular— from the Mother of God to Saint Simon Stock-brings its great usefulness not only to the Carmelite Family of Mary but also to all the rest of the faithful who wish, affiliated to that Family, to follow Mary with a very special devotion." Pius IX