The spirit of Titus
On the second day of the International Course for Carmelite Students in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, the delegates were introduced to the spirituality of Bl. Titus Brandsma.
In the morning, Sr. Sanny Bruijns, O.Carm., introduced the Marian devotion of Bl. Titus, which she revealed to have started from his childhood.
Sr. Sanny said that Titus grew up in a religious family, in fact, of the six Brandsma children five became religious, with only one of the four girls marrying. Three sisters became nuns, while Titus’ brother became a Franciscan (OFM).
Apparently, the family’s deep devotion to Mary with the regular praying of the Rosary and devotion to Our Lady of Frisia (Mary, Seat of Wisdom), stayed with Titus up until his death. A good example of this was when he gave a rosary to the nurse who gave him the lethal injection, saying that if she can’t say the prayers, she could at least say, “Pray for us sinners.”
Sr. Sanny believes that Titus’ decision to enter Carmel is born out of his love for Mary, and eventually he came to believe that the Carmelites are called to be the other Mary.
She pointed out that when Titus was imprisoned, he wrote that Mary is the hope of all Carmelites, quoting: “Surely her image ought to be in a Carmelite’s cell.”
In the afternoon, the brothers were treated to a meditative analysis of the poem of Bl. Titus, “Before the Image of Jesus,” given by Fr. Keese Waaijman.
In his talk, he pointed out the deep spirituality of Titus. Written when he was imprisoned in Scheveningen, the poem reflects his relationship with Christ, as a special friend.
This poem, according to Fr. Keese was written in front of part of a Sacred Heart painting by Fra. Angelico, with an image of St. Teresa of Avila on one side and of St. John of the Cross on the other with the respective quotes: “To die or to suffer” and “To suffer and to be scorned.”
The poem which talks of suffering as a gift, does not glorify suffering, Fr. Keese clarified, rather it reflects how the sharing of one’s suffering is the way to God.
Such suffering when shared with a deep relationship with Christ, creates an intimacy with the Savior that would transform the “me” and the “I” into “with.”