St Titus Brandsma - Carmelite and Martyr

Adoro Te In his prison cell at Scheveningen, Titus prayed the well-known hymn Adoro Te after lunch. In his account of his time in prison, ‘My Cell’, he tells us about this: ‘The Adoro Te has become my favourite prayer. Frequently I sing it softly and this helps me to make a spiritual communion’. The first and last verses read as follows: I devoutly worship Thee, Hidden Godhead, Who among these signs are truly hidden. O may I behold Thee with unveiled face and taste the happiness to see Your glory. SAINT TITUS BRANDSMA Full Habit, 22 years old Frequent Communion Titus’ conviction concerning the importance of frequent celebration of the Eucharist was con rmed in reading Carmelite saints such as Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi and Teresa of Avila. Titus also draws out the importance of daily reception of Holy Communion when presenting the life and message of Saint Lidwina of Schiedam, one of the national saints of the Netherlands. Prayer after Communion In continuity with another key aspect of the Carmelite tradition, Titus emphasised the importance of taking time to pray after receiving Holy Communion. This is a true contemplative moment when, having received the risen Lord into ourselves, we seek to open ourselves to his accomplishing great things in us. Titus reflectively links prayer after Communion to the gure of Elijah: ‘In the caves of Horeb God spoke to the Prophet by the voice of the gentle, whispering wind. The Lord was not in the storm nor in the earthquake, but in the gentle wind. So, after Communion we must contemplate under the Eucharistic species and in the depths of our spirit; for now God passes.’ Spiritual Communion St Teresa of Avila often recommends acts of spiritual communion when reception of the sacrament is not possible. Perhaps early on Titus might not have realised how important this would prove to be in his own life, just as readers of St Teresa in our own time might not have realised how important spiritual communion would become in time of pandemic. While Titus was able to receive Holy Communion at Dachau (including on the day of his death), there were times this was not possible. Unable to celebrate Mass at Scheveningen prison Titus describes how ‘each morning I kneel down and say the prayers of daily Mass, spiritual communion.’ In the camp at Amersfoort Titus led communal acts of spiritual communion with his fellow prisoners. The Eucharist and Contemplation An often-repeated spiritual teaching of Titus Brandsma is that ‘the mystical contemplative life is a fruit of the Eucharistic life.’ The Eucharist is what strengthens us to receive the gift of contemplation from God. And such contemplation leads to action. Titus told a group of young people: ‘Good deeds no longer suffice; they must originate in the consciousness that our union with God obliges us to perform them.’ 13