“But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.” (Wisdom 3:1)
Yet, Titus Brandsma went through torment: he was punished in the eyes of men. Yes, God tried him. The former prisoners from concentration camps know very well what kind of human Calvary those places of punishment were.
Places of great human trial.
The test of physical strength, ruthlessly driven to complete annihilation.
The test of moral forces…
Perhaps today’s Gospel speaks to us even better, recalling the commandment to love our enemies. The concentration camps were organized according to the program of contempt for man, according to the program of hatred. Through what a test of conscience, of character, of the heart a follower of Christ had to pass, who remembered Christ’s words about loving your enemies! Not responding to hatred with hatred but with love. This is perhaps one of the greatest tests of a man’s moral energies.
Titus Brandsma emerged victorious from this test. In the midst of the raging hatred, he knew how to love; everyone, even his torturers: “They, too, are children of the good God,” he said, “and perhaps something still remains within them…”
Certainly, such heroism cannot be improvised. Father Titus went on to develop it over the course of a lifetime, starting from the first experiences of childhood, lived in a deeply Christian family, in the beloved land of Frisia. From the words and examples of parents, from the teachings heard in the village church, from the charitable initiatives experienced within the parish community, he learned to know and to practice the fundamental commandment of Christ concerning love for everyone, not excluding even our own enemies. It was an experience that marked him in-depth, to the point of orienting his whole life.
The activities that Father Brandsma carried out during his existence were of a surprising multiplicity; but, if one wanted to look for the inspiring motive and the driving force, you would find it right here: in the commandment of the love taken to extremes.
Saint John Paul II
Homily, Mass for the Beatification of Titus Brandsma (excerpt)
3 November 1985, Vatican Basilica
This English translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.
For that religious confession of faith in the social life, the Dutch people, in many large parts, have made great sacrifices out of respect for God, out of love for God and in faithful trust in God. That respect for God makes them view this as a duty, that love for God confers on them zeal and a spirit of sacrifice for that purpose, that faithful trust in God makes them strong, able to go on doing this despite everything. Both the Christians as well as the Catholics venerate numerous martyrs from their history, who they themselves hold up as an example, even when it means giving their life for the sake of confessing their faith, where people seek to oppress that confession of faith. In this respect the Catholics in particular have traditions which are their glory and honour. Through centuries of oppression, countless have zealously given up their position, their property and even their life.In this time, when the religious life of the majority of the Dutch people is surely no less conscious, it will be no different.
Blessed Titus Brandsma Why do the Dutch people, especially the Catholic people, resist the N.S.B.? (excerpt)
Blessed Titus Brandsma wrote the essay Why do the Dutch people, especially the Catholic people, resist the N.S.B.? in the prison of Scheveningen by order of the Gestapo, January 1942, not long after his arrest. Read the complete translation of his brief essay here.
English translation of the written defence ‘Waarom verzet zich het Nederlandsche volk, met name het Katholieke volksdeel, tegen de N.S.B.?’ by Susan Verkerk-Wheatley / Anne-Marie Bos
Over time, few devotions have been so extensively promoted as the devotion to the Holy Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
It is so intimately connected with the life of the Catholic, that it provokes more attention when particular Catholics do not practice it, than when it is visibly part of their life.
In 1595, however, Mag. Joseph Falcone published a work on the history of the Order, in which as a contemporary he declared that this devotion blossomed, especially in Spain, and that there was no house where people did not wear the garment of Carmel, indeed, through the common wearing of that garment, the whole of Spain and Portugal could be said to be one great cloister of Carmelites.
For a long time, people believed that when it came to the Netherlands, any indication that the Scapular was also worn here was missed.
Admittedly, not many traces of this devotion have remained but, all the same,they do tell us that the Netherlands did not trail behind other countries.
We possess a poem by a layperson, from the end of the fifteenth-century, which sings the praises of the Scapular.
The translation of this text reads as follows:
We see the Carmelites clothed with Scapulars who—from the hands of the Holy Simon Stock when he, as a foretaste of the reward for his devotion to the Holy Virgin Mary, having been graced to contemplate her, Mary, with this garment in her virginal hands—have accepted the cited Scapular with incredible zeal as their garment.
We can say frankly that in our country all priests could be said to be promoters of this beautiful devotion and, thanks to the piety of their priests, nearly all Catholics in the Netherlands have received the garment of the Lady of Mount Carmel. What Falcone said of Spain at the end of the 16th century may surely be said of the Netherlands today: There is no house where, to be blessed with the countless indulgences and privileges of the Carmelite Order, one does not wear the garment of Carmel.
Blessed Titus Brandsma Promoting the Holy Scapular in the Netherlands (excerpts)
Born in Bolsward (The Netherlands) in 1881, Blessed Titus Brandsma joined the Carmelite Order as a young man. Ordained a priest in 1905, he earned a doctorate in philosophy in Rome. He then taught in various schools in Holland and was named professor of philosophy as Rector Magnificus. He was noted for his constant availability to everyone. He was a professional journalist, and in 1935 he was appointed the ecclesiastical advisor to Catholic journalists. Both before and during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands he fought, faithful to the Gospel, against the spread of Nazi ideology and for the freedom of Catholic education and of the Catholic press. For this, he was arrested and sent to a succession of prisons and concentration camps where he brought comfort and peace to his fellow prisoners and did good even to his tormentors. In 1942, after much suffering and humiliation, he was killed at Dachau. He was beatified by Saint John Paul II on Nov. 3, 1985.
From the Common of One Martyr, except the following:
Office of Readings
The Second Reading (Alternative 1)
Introduction to Het lijden vergoddelijkt
From the writings of Blessed Titus Brandsma
The mysticism of the Passion
Jesus called Himself the head of the Mystical Body, of which we are the members. He is the vine, we are the branches. He laid Himself in the winepress and Himself trod it. He handed us the wine so that, drinking it, we might lead His life, might share His suffering. Whoever wishes to do My Will, let him daily take up his cross. Whoever follows me has the light of life. I am the way, He said. I have given you an example, so that as I have done so you may do also. And when His disciples did not understand that His way would be a way of suffering, He explained this to them and said, “Should not the Christ so suffer, in order to enter into His glory?”
Then the hearts of the disciples burned within them. God’s word had set them on fire. And when the Holy Spirit had descended on them to fan that divine fire into flame, then they were glad to suffer scorn and persecution, whereby they resembled Him Who had preceded them on the way of suffering.
The prophets had already marked His way of suffering; the disciples now understood that He had not avoided that way. From the crib to the cross, suffering, poverty and lack of appreciation were His lot. He had directed His whole life to teaching people how different is God’s view of suffering, poverty and lack of human appreciation from the foolish wisdom of the world. After sin, suffering had to follow so that, through the cross, man’s lost glory and life with God might be regained. Suffering is the way to heaven. In the cross is salvation, in the cross is victory. God willed it so. He Himself assumed the obligation of suffering in view of the glory of redemption. St. Paul makes it clear to us how all the disasters of this earthly life are insignificant, how they must be considered as nothing and passing, in comparison with the glory that will be revealed to us when the time of suffering is past, and we come to share in God’s glory.
Mary, who kept all God’s words in her heart, in the fullness of grace granted her, understood the great value of suffering. While the apostles fled, she went out to meet the Savior on the way to Calvary and stood beneath the cross, in order to share His grief and shame to the end. And she carried Him to the grave, firmly trusting that He would rise.
We object when He hands us the chalice of His suffering. It is so difficult for us to resign ourselves to suffering. To rejoice in it strikes us as heroic. What is the value of our offering of self if we unite ourselves each morning only in word and gesture, rather than in thought and will, to that offering which we, together with the Church, make of Him with whom we are in the one body?
Jesus once wept over Jerusalem.
Oh, that this day you had known the gift of God!
Oh, that this day we might realize the value God has placed on the suffering He sends: He, the All-Good.
R/. God forbid that I glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, * by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. V/. We preach Christ crucified, to others a stumbling block and a folly, but to us the power and the wisdom of God, * by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Lord our God, source and giver of life,
you gave to Blessed Titus the Spirit of courage
to proclaim human dignity and the freedom of the Church,
even in the throes of degrading persecution and death.
Grant us that same Spirit
so that in the coming of your kingdom of justice and peace
we might never be ashamed of the Gospel
but be enabled to recognize your loving-kindness
in all the events of our lives.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
O Jesus, what ingratitude and misjudgment, that the people, among whom you generously journeyed, reward your love with the demand:
“To the Cross with Him”.
But you must have felt even more oppressed that Pilate, under the pretense of administering the law as if without guilt and impotent to this demand, despite the statement of finding no guilt in You, condemns You to the most barbaric and scandalous Crucifixion. But You endure it and keep silent.
O Mary, how that savage cry of the people and that unjust judgment of Pilate, like a sword of affliction, must have pierced the heart. But You also endure it and remain silent like Jesus, Your Son.
How difficult it is for us to tolerate an unjust verdict.
Blessed Titus Brandsma Meditation on the Stations of the Cross, 1942
I am alone here. Two by four (meters) and the height is also four. A cell dwelt in becomes sweet, says Thomas à Kempis. I already feel at home here. I pray, read and write, the days are too short. From eight till seven it is night.
I am quite all right in my solitude, although I miss the church, Mass, communion, and although no priest comes here. Yet God is near to me, now that I cannot go to people any more, nor people to me. I am very calm, happy and content, and I adapt myself. I will hold out very well.
Without (poverty) the religious is a Pharisee – a gentleman in the monastery dressed like a poor man, but without a true love for poverty…. The poor are of us, but we do not wish to be of them. We thereby make ourselves ridiculous before God who accepted our vows.