St Titus Brandsma - Carmelite and Martyr Pope Francis in his address to the 2019 General Chapter of the Friars, made the connection between authenticity and the faithful living of the vocation that each one has received. Referring to Blessed Titus on that occasion, he said, “Something that belongs to the Carmelite Order, even though it is a Order of mendicants, living and working in the midst of the people, is to maintain a great respect for solitude and for detachment from the things of the world, seeing in solitude and contemplation the best part of their spiritual lives.” Titus Brandsma entered the Carmelite Order because he was drawn by its charism: “The spirituality of Carmel, that is a life of prayer and of tender devotion to Mary, led me to the very happy decision to take on that life. I was enthralled by the spirit of Carmel.” Fr Titus is not someone who was lost in the past, but rather one who looked to the history of Carmel, its mystics and models of holiness, to find prophetic figures who have something to say to the present moment. To this effect, he set up the Institute of Mysticism in the University of Nijmegen, which would lead in time tothe Institute that was to bear his name. Titus, friend of God, forms a bridge among the great “throng of witnesses” (cf. Hb 12,1) in Carmel’s spiritual tradition. He knew how to bring together tradition and modernity in a way that was authoritative and integrated. He was open and fexible, with an enormous capacity for work to which he gave his all with great passion and generosity. There was balance and harmony in the way that he lived his Carmelite contemplative life. He was the prayerful, prophet and fraternal one, living in the midst of the people. We, Carmelites, in this crucial time in our history, a time when humanity continues to tackle the difficult questions of war, violence, inequality, and many other evils, continue to place our trust in the grace and mercy of God. We denounce with all the prophetic vigour of Elijah everything that diminishes or destroys people, our sisters and brothers with whom we share in full the pilgrimage of life, with its joys and hopes, it fears and sadness (cf. GS 1). At the same time, we seek to discover, contemplate and refect upon the wonderful signs, fragile and hidden at times, of the presence of God in our lives. With as much realism as possible, and with the eyes of faith, we see the beauty that the Spirit of God has poured out upon people everywhere. Just like the first Christian community, “together with Mary the Mother of Jesus” (Acts 1,14), we too want to be a sign of hope and commitment for all who enter into contact with the spirituality of Carmel. It is our desire to refect, as Saint Titus Brandsma did, in important situations, the mercy and tenderness of God. In saying that, I make my own the beautiful invocation that Saint Titus used in one of his retreat talks: Like the apostles, we want to remain with one heart and one soul, in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, filled with the confidence that through her intercession the Holy Spirit will come down on us to renew us and infame our tepid hearts and spirits ..... Mary will be the one to guide us. Mary, Mother and Sister to us, standing at the foot of the cross (cf. Jn 19,25), you learned from the meek and humble heart of Jesus (cf. Mt 11,29), we commend to your care all those who suffer for their fidelity to your Son and his Church. You who are the Queen of martyrs, help us to be convincing witnesses to the Gospel, responding to the evil and injustice that are in the world with the power of forgiveness, truth and charity. Fr Mícéal Miceal O’Neill, O.Carm. Prior General Rome, 1st May 2022 Extract from The Cross for me is Joy Download the full letter at I am happy in my suffering, because I do not consider it to be suffering anymore, but is the fate that is most desired, that unites me with You, O God. For You, O Jesus, are with me, I have never felt so close to You, stay with me, with me. Sweet Jesus Your presence makes all good for me. Titus Brandsma 7