Sunday, July 26, 2015

July 26 - Titus Brandsma, Martyr, Priest, Opponent of Nazi Germany


Titus Brandsma was born Anno Sjoerd in the Netherlands in 1881. He was raised Roman Catholic and, eventually, became a Carmelite and priest. He was awarded the Ph.D. at Rome in 1909. He was a well-known authority on Carmelite mysticism. This principled man had the fortune of intersecting the Nazis in the Netherlands. Though it resulted in his martyrdom, it cannot be described as bad fortune because Titus knew his life was a story of the power of love in the face of death and domination--this was the only appropriate end.

Titus was the Roman Catholic adviser to the Netherlands' several dozen Roman Catholic newspapers. This was a position of importance and one which Titus was equipped to do well. Holland was invaded by the Nazis in 1940 and tensions were high. Many Roman Catholics wanted to resist the Nazi occupation but were unsure of how much or how to do so. It is, most assuredly, a black mark that those bearing the banner of Jesus Christ--a crucified Lord--would compromise with the Nazi regime in trade for limited safety and security and, yet, that is often what happened. Many were willing to fight only for the safety and security of fellow Roman Catholics and felt that the Church should solely be concerned with the protection of its members. Titus disagreed and did so vocally. For Titus, there was no compromise to be had with those who dealt in death, destruction, torture, and pain.The Church has no room to join with others who promise only "controlled evil."

Referring to Nazism as "the new paganism," it was clear that Titus opposed the treachery and tragedy of the Nazi empire. Titus resisted the Nazi oppression of all people regardless of the religion, creed, race, or sex of those who were oppressed. After all, if oppression was evil, then it didn't matter who did it. He publicly denounced and fought a German law prohibiting students of Jewish lineage from attending Roman Catholic schools. This further drew the ire of the Nazi empire. In late 1941, a Nazi edict demanded that all newspapers run Nazi propaganda.Titus Brandsma organized an effort to refuse and resist this edict. This was, apparently, the last straw for an empire that depended upon domination, control, and fear.

January 19th, 1942, was the day that Titus was arrested and seized by the Nazi death machine. Eventually, he was transferred to Dachau to be with the nearly 3,000 other clergy who were swept up by the empire that accepted no resistance. He was beaten and tortured before being transferred to a "hospital" for execution.

On July 26th, 1942--70 years ago, today--Titus Brandsma was injected with acid and murdered.Though the Nazis felt that they were punishing him for his resistance to the empire, they only spread his influence and further proved their own savagery. They killed a sickly, 61-year-old man who offered no physical resistance with a needle to make it "clean" but acid to make it vindictive--observing their methods, one wonders if there wasn't the spark of fear in their hatred of Titus. They hoped to punish him for the state of his mind that offered resistance to their "new world order" but, instead, they crowned him as a martyr for the cause of a sacrificial and loving savior who resisted evil done to any and all people.

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