St Titus Brandsma - Carmelite and Martyr

The Eucharistic Life of Carmel Being of central importance to the Christian life, it is no surprise to nd the Eucharist at the heart of Carmelite life from its earliest beginnings. The rst Carmelites built an oratory in the midst of their cells on Mount Carmel to facilitate common prayer and common celebration of the Eucharist. This sacred space was to be a focal point for encounter with one another and with the risen Lord. Until the reforms of Pope Pius X in the early twentieth century, daily receiving of Holy Communion was unusual. However, taking inspiration from the Rule of Carmel, daily reception of the Sacrament was already common in Carmelite communities long before this and was to be a constant of the life and spirituality of Titus Brandsma who entered the Carmelite Order in 1898 at Boxmeer, in the Netherlands, a town long associated with Eucharistic devotion. Titus Brandsma Carmelite and Martyr EUCHARIST The cell of Titus Brandsma at Scheveningen Concentration Camp Anno Brandsma was born in the Dutch province of Friesland in 1881. He joined the Carmelite Order in 1898 taking his father’s name, Titus, as his religious name. He made his First Profession in October 1899 and was ordained priest on 17 June 1905. As an academic Titus specialised in philosophy and mysticism. He helped to found the Catholic University of Nijmegen in 1923 and later served as Rector Magnificus. In the years before the Second World War Titus was openly critical of the Nazi ideology. During the occupation of Holland, he defended the freedom of the Press and of the Catholic Press in particular. Titus was arrested in January 1942 and sent to Dachau Concentration Camp where he was killed by lethal injection on 26 July 1942. He was beatified as a martyr in 1985 and canonised on 15 May 2022. Food for the Journey Titus was convinced that our spiritual life, just as our physical life, requires food. He saw in Elijah, Prophet of Carmel, the pattern of the Carmelite life. Just as Elijah was sustained for his journey through the desert to Mount Horeb by miraculous food from heaven, so we too are strengthened by the gift of the Eucharist as we ‘walk in life’s journey here below.’ Imprisoned on account of his fearless defence of the freedom of the Catholic press and basic human rights in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, ‘walking in the strength of the divine bread’ was ultimately tested for Titus between January and July 1942 as he followed his own ‘way of the cross’ all the way to Dachau concentration camp. In the Blessed Sacrament He gives us Himself again, and not only Himself as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, no, He tells us that all three Persons will take up their residence in our hearts, if we are united with Him. Titus Brandsma Window of Titus before the Blessed Sacrament, in the Priory Chapel, Houston - courtesy of the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary (PCM).