Sunday, 27 July 2014

Thoughts from our Chaplain - “Pray for us sinners!”

If the 27th July hadn’t fallen this year on a Sunday, we would have celebrated the feast of the Dutch Carmelite Blessed Titus Brandsma.

I have written about him before, but as many of my brethren have recourse to pray to him on my behalf, I like to recall his life, especially his latter days.

He was born in Bolsward (Holland) in 1881 on a Frisian farm, he entered the Carmelite Order and was ordained 1905. He obtained a doctorate in philosophy, lectured (including mysticism) at the Nijmegen University, stood up for the freedom of the press and opposed the Nazis for their treatment of the Jews. He was arrested in 1942 and was killed in Dachau.

Whilst at Dachau he reached out to fellow prisoners, was always friendly to and prayed for his brutal guards and made a deep impression on the nurse, Titia, who gave him the fatal injection in the infirmary block. In her testimony she said that she wanted to speak about him, because he had helped her so much. “Titus asked me how I came to work in this place. Once he took my hand and said ‘What a poor girl you are, I pray much for you.’ He also gave me his rosary, but I said that I couldn’t pray. He replied, ‘Pray then at least the last words: pray for us sinners’. I laughed.

Instead of laughing, let us say then, because we are sinners – at least I am!

Fr Piet Wijngaard, O.Carm.

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