The Carmelite Order celebrates the memorial of Blessed Titus Brandsma, O.Carm on July 27. Blessed Titus is not very well known. I even doubt if he is known at all outside the Order of Carmel. But this man of faith, a priest and a martyr, was a man of our times. He was born in the Netherlands in 1881 and entered the Order as a young man. He was ordained a priest in 1905 and was highly educated. He assumed positions in the academic world as a professor of Philosophy and of history of mysticism. He was a professional journalist and in 1935 was appointed ecclesiastical advisor to Catholic journalists. Both, before and after the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands , he fought against the spread of Nazi ideology and for the freedom of the Catholic education and the Catholic Press. He was finally arrested and was sent to a succession of prisons and concentration camps. He showed his strength of character and his heroic virtues by the good example he showed to his fellow prisoners. True to his Carmelite vocation, he embraced the Cross of Christ and contemplated His presence in the solitude of his prison cell. His dark night experience was expressed in a poem he wrote while in his cell, “Before A Picture of Jesus In My Cell.” It shows the deep trust and abandonment of a true lover of Christ.
“A new awareness of Thy love
Encompasses ny heart:
Sweet Jesus, I in Thee and thou
In me shall never part.
No grief shall fall my way but I
Shall see thy grief filled eyes:
the lonely way that thou once walked
Has made me sorrow-wise.
All trouble is a white-lit joy
That light my darkest day;
Thy love has turned to brightest light
This night-like way.
If I have Thee alone,
the hours will bless
With still, cold hands of love
My utter loneliness.
Stay with me Jesus, only stay;
I shall not fear,
If reaching out my hand,
I feel Thee near.”
In 1942, after much suffering and enduring much humiliations, he was given a lethal injection and died in Dachau.
Other saints coming up this week: