Sunday, July 27, 2003

Blessed Titus Brandsma, O. Carm.

27 July is a Sunday this year and everywhere the Masses are of the Sunday, either the 7th after Pentecost or the 17th per annum. But it is also the feast day on the Carmelite calendar, even if not liturgically celebrated this year, of the great Carmelite writer and martyr, Blessed Titus Brandsma, O.Carm.

Blessed Titus was a Dutch Carmelite of the Ancient Observance who refused to stop preaching and writing those truths of the Catholic faith which contradicted the ideology of the Nazi occupiers of his country. For this he found himself in Dachau.

There is a treasure trove of material on Blessed Titus on this website. A nice selection of his writing can be found on that site along with much written about him. Don't miss his "Sketches" and some of his "Letters", most written from his Dutch prison, the final one being from Dachau.

A biographical outline with many pictures can be found here. A more extensive biography can be found here. Some of Bl. Titus's letters may also be read here. This selection is much the same as that found on the first website but with some additional explanations.

Words from his fellow prisoners in Dachau:

“He has been beaten terribly in Dachau. His little jacket was covered with blood but ‘it’s not worth troubling about.’ With a few words he silenced any further comment. Then he would reflect for a few quiet moments and offer some thoughts from Teresa of Avila to whoever would listen to him.” — Brother Raphael Tijhuis, 1946, a Carmelite who was with Titus in the concentration camp, which Brother Raphael survived.

“The ‘Kretiner aus Holland’ [the cretin from Holland] has in the short time that he was with us often been severely beaten, so that his face was covered over with blood. But he kept up his courage, and his spirit could simply not be broken.” — H. A. C. Jansen

“His spirit could simply not be broken. Any thought of revenge was far from him: thus he could say his Our Father in silence while in the presence of his attackers.” — R. H?ppener

“When Professor Brandsma joined us, Dachau was at the time such a hell as it perhaps never had been before or would be afterwards. His short stay in Dachau was a true martyrdom. Yet he remained always cheerful and happy, a support for all of us.” — P. v. Genuchten

From those who shared Amersfoort prison with him:

“He did not want anybody to know it, but he was sometimes very saddened, not for himself but because people could do all this to one another. His temper did not suffer under it, rather, he became more gentle. Even for the worst of his fellow-prisoners he had only nice words.” — J. v. d. Mortel

“Though being a Lutheran myself, I must say that during my entire life I have met few people who made such an impression on me as Father Titus Brandsma. He knew how to make everyone his friend. Especially impressive was his spiritual unassailability. I felt immediately that I was in the presence of someone who in his ordinary life must have been far above the rest.” — Dr. P. H. Ronge