St Titus Brandsma - Carmelite and Martyr

During his life Titus Brandsma stressed the importance of active contemplation. Some people think of contemplation as something done by strange people called the mystics. Yet, Carmelites understand contemplation as an attitude of openness to God, whose presence we discover in all things. As an attitude, it can permeate any dimension of our lives, no matter what our work is. Contemplation is for everybody! Living in the presence of God Inspired by Elijah, “As the Lord lives in whose sight I stand”, Titus stressed the importance of living continually in the presence of God. Contemplative practice involves building an awareness of staying before the face of God throughout our day. Even in a life of intense activity, each of us can live in God’s presence. Contemplation starts when we entrust ourselves to God, in whatever way God chooses to approach us. It is up to God, not up to us. It is his work in us. God is willing to touch and transform us to be like him. God wants to lead us to be united in love with him, so that we may live in his loving presence. This fow of divine love slowly and gradually changes us. It empties us of our limited and imperfect human ways of thinking, loving, and behaving, transforming them into divine ways. Contemplation transforms Contemplation, then, is a dynamic element which unites our prayer, living in relationship with others and the reality of life and work. With contemplation our prayer is no longer mere lip service, it becomes contemplative, as St Teresa of Avila says, “A close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.” Our relationships with our neighbours become contemplative as we are enabled to see God in our sisters and brothers, with all their strengths and weaknesses, and to appreciate the mystery of those with whom we share our lives. This experience of contemplation in prayer and in community compels us to seek the face of God also in the heart of the world. This belief moves us to lend our hands to the ones who suffer and need help. This contemplation is what Titus Brandsma firmly believes in. He summarises Carmelite life as complete dedication to contemplation; it should be interrupted only because of necessity – when there is need to go to people and speak to them of God. Only charity toward one’s neighbour or obedience can be reasons for leaving God for the sake of God. Titus Brandsma Carmelite and Martyr 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 in 1985. He was beatified as a martyr in 1985 and canonised on 15 May 2022. CONTEMPLATIVE