St Titus Brandsma - Carmelite and Martyr

Prayer before an image of Christ O Jesus, when I gaze on You Once more alive, that I love You And that your heart loves me too Moreover as your special friend. Although that calls me to suffer more Oh, for me all suffering is good, For in this way I resemble You And this is the way to Your Kingdom. I am blissful in my suffering For I know it no more as sorrow But the most ultimate elected lot That unites me with You, O God. O, just leave me here silently alone, The chill and cold around me And let no people be with me Here alone I grow not weary. For Thou, O Jesus, art with me I have never been so close to You. Stay with me, with me, Jesus sweet, Your presence makes all things good for me. Written by Titus Brandsma on 12-13 February 1942 while a prisoner at Scheveningen. Translation: Susan Verkerk-Wheatley / Anne-Marie Bos © Titus Brandsma Instituut 2018 SAINT TITUS BRANDSMA The Union with God Does Titus mean a glorification of suffering? No, a spiritual logic is at work here: in suffering shared in friendship is the way of the good; bliss is the ultimate fowering of the good; this is the union with God. The friend ‘knows’, that his friend has taken his suffering seriously. It no longer belongs to him alone. His friend also bears it. However, what is of most importance here is the ultimate goal of the way: the union with God. This is, the heart of all devotion. The suffering reaches beyond the awareness of itself and can – as in ecstasy – only call out: ‘O God’. O, Leave Me Here Titus notes in his prison letter that it can be ‘very cold’ in the winter. But this does not need to change for him: ‘Just leave me here’, here ‘before the image of Jesus’. At this point in the poem the motif ‘with me’ begins to resound. The solitariness serves the interiorization of the bliss which was received in the shared suffering of the friendship. The ‘here alone’ does not become ‘weary’. Your Presence Makes All Things Good for Me Solitariness is the place where Titus can expose himself to the bliss of the suffering shared in friendship. For Titus the meaning of ‘Jesus with me’ and ‘never so close to me’ lies in the suffering shared in friendship as a way to Jesus’ Kingdom, leading to the union with God which reaches a climax in the last two lines: ‘Stay with me, with me, Jesus sweet, / Your presence makes all things good for me’. The occupying power defines the course of events ‘in prison’, but this far ‘here’, in the cell of Titus ‘before the image of Jesus’, its infuence does not extend. It is believed the image that Titus may have had in his cell was “Saint Dominic Adoring the Crucifixion”, a fresco by Fra Angelico. 23