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‘The Dangerous Little Friar’

Bl. Titus Brandsma (1881–1942)

December 3, 2021  0

Pope Francis recognized, this week, a miracle attributed to the intercession of Bl. Titus Brandsma, quickening his march toward official sainthood. Martina Moyski tells more about this Dutch Carmelite friar killed by the Nazis in 1942 for raising his voice against their evil crimes.

Even after the blitzkrieg of the Netherlands, Catholic clergy continued to resist Nazi occupation. One who resisted — now moving up the canonization ladder — is Carmelite friar Titus Brandsma, murdered in the Dachau concentration camp for speaking truth to Nazi power.

Brandsma spent his priestly life speaking against the Nazi juggernaut. He said, "We must not forget that the Nazi movement is a black lie. It is pagan." For such remarks, the Nazis called him "the dangerous little friar."

"Our Catholic principles are at conflict with their principles," he said. "For this confession, I joyfully suffer what is to be suffered."

George Neumayr, American journalist: "The Catholic bishops should emulate Brandsma in refusing to serve as mouthpiece for the totalitarianism today."

Brandsma began his stairway to Heaven on a dairy farm in northern Holland, a member of a devout Catholic family. Five of the six children entered religious life, with Brandsma himself announcing at age 11 his intention to become a priest. He offered his first Mass at age 24 near the place he was born.

First priest, then journalist, professor and university administrator — each step bringing him to the next in his defense of the truth. 

Neumayr: "Just as he [Brandsma] stood up to the totalitarians of his day, today's journalists have a duty to stand up to these new totalitarians who are pushing a Culture of Death." 

His final — and fatal — step, however, was exhorting Catholic journalists to reject Nazi propaganda, which landed him (now "political prisoner number 58") in Dachau, where he died by lethal injection. Before his death, he offered Mass in secret and ministered to fellow inmates, urging them to pray for their oppressors, counsel they had a hard time following.

Once, he protected the Sacred Host by clutching it in his hand while he was beaten almost to death. "We are here in a dark tunnel, but we have to go on. At the end, the eternal light is shining for us," he said.

Faithful Catholics are now asking why so many U.S. bishops are silent in the face of the new paganism, while Brandsma paid in blood to protect the Faith.

It's interesting to note that in 1936, the Dutch bishops announced the holy sacraments would be denied to those supporting the Nazi Party, in effect saying, "You can't be Catholic and vote for the Nazi Party."

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