Who is Titus Brandsma?
Titus Brandsma was born on February 23, 1881 in Ugoklooster at Bolsward. He grew up in a family involved in social life in Friesland. This is always reflected in his life. Many find him as a fascinating person. He saw the needs of the people and felt for the signs of time. He had great respect for every person he met. He was very interested in the history and the time he lived. He has made a powerful contribution to the emancipation of the Catholics because they regarded themselves as second-rate citizens.
He was an inspired person, full of spirituality; hit by Christ’s life, he realized that God lived in him and that he could find him in the people and things around him. From this faithful connection with God he put in his gifts and talents where necessary. He felt at home in the Order of the Carmelites, giving great attention to prayer and study of spiritual life.
In his early years, he already published a book with texts by Teresa van Avila, the Spanish mystic, who strongly inspired him. He wanted to join as many people as possible with the way God goes with people. In addition to his assignment as a prfessor of philosophy for the young Carmelites in Oss, he founded a public library and, under his leadership, revived the local newspaper “The City of Oss”; he became the first editor in chief.
On his initiative and with his perseverance, there was a Catholic high school in Oss. In addition to his many activities, especially for cultural development in Friesland, he was a creative spiritual director in the Order of the Carmel and an available fellow brother.
In 1923, he was invited to become a professor at the newly established Catholic University of Nijmegen to teach in philosophy and history of mysticism. As a spiritual advisor for the Catholic journalists, he has made a great effort. He wrote countless articles in the Gelderlander about Dutch spiritual writers. He wanted to inform the readers about the spiritual path that anyone can go. In January 1942 he made a tour of the main editorials and directives of the Catholic newspapers to include the NSB’s banned ads in their newspapers. The occupier responded immediately to that action. On January 19, 1942, Titus Brandsma was arrested immediately after his return and sent to prison in Scheveningen. There he was instructed to write his motives behind his resistance, which he made in a still impressive defense.
In Scheveningen the path of the man who had to be taken out of the way began. He was a barrier to the occupant’s path by his bold witness. On July 26, 1942, he died in the concentration camp of Dachau. Thus, an end to a half year of torture and violence came. The weakness of the 61-year-old monk could no longer bear the cruelty of the camp regime.
Fellow prisoners testified after the liberation of the impression that Titus Brandsma had made on them: a single man, who remained under all circumstances even under the knot of the beasts.
Looking at him from our time we can be grateful to him for his example. He remained faithful to his calling, and in Dachau he fell on by his gentle dealings with everyone. Some said he was already a freed man. His inner fire kept the hope of his fellow prisoners alive.
After the war, Titus Brandsma became an inspirational and spiritual guide to their journey of life for many.