Carmel in the World
2018. Volume LVII, Number 1

  • Being Carmelite in Africa – One Rule, Multiple Expressions (Part II)
  • 70 Years of Carmelite Presence in Zimbabwe
  • Our Image of God: Blessed Titus Brandsma, O.Carm., and Inaugural Lecture (below)
  • Becoming a living dwelling place of God
  • Titus Brandsma and his impact on the City of Oss
  • Carmel and Music VI: Sir Lennox Berkeley’s Four Poems of St Teresa of Avila
  • Religious Life in a secularised society
  • A Reflection of the Just and Merciful God in the Scriptures
  • Servant of God: Avertan Fenech, O.Carm. (1871-1943)
  • Where did you hide yourself?
  • Maltese Celebrations for Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi
  • Carmel around the World

Our Image of God: Blessed Titus Brandsma, O.Carm., and his Inaugural Lecture (1932)[1]

Dr Simon Nolan, O.Carm., is a member of the Irish Province and lectures in philosophy in the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He is an accomplished organist.

An Occasion and A Lecture
On October 17, 1932, Reverend Professor Doctor Titus Brandsma, O.Carm., gave his inaugural lecture as Rector Magnificus of the Catholic University of Nijmegen on the occasion of the anniversary of its foundation (its dies natalis, i.e. ‘birth-day’). From the time of the university’s foundation in 1923, Titus had been its first Professor of Philosophy and the History of Mysticism. Addressing the assembled professors, students, and members of the general public some nine years later, Titus took as his theme ‘The Concept of God’.[2] According to one biographer, Titus’s term of office as Rector coincided with the ‘VIP’ phase in his life, during which he attended eighteen different public ceremonies in an official capacity.[3] For example, he was present for important functions at the Free University in Amsterdam. He was a guest at the Jubilee celebration of the thirty-five years’ reign of Queen Wilhelmina. Titus paid an official visit to the University of Milan in 1932 and to Rome where he presented a report to Pope Pius XI and met with Cardinal Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII). Titus’s famous lecture tour of the United States and Canada (via Ireland) came in 1935.

An Eyewitness
One of those present for Titus’s dies natalis lecture, Johannes Cardinal Willebrands (1909-2006), later attested to the impression the Carmelite professor made on his audience. Former President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Archbishop of Utrecht, Cardinal Willebrands remarked: ‘Even now I still remember the profound and inspiring impression this lecture had on me, a student of the Warmond major seminary, and on numerous philosophy and theology students’.[4] The Cardinal continued: ‘His inaugural lecture had a liberating and cheering effect. It was not prepared as a theoretical document dealing with abstract thought but was rather born from a preoccupation for humanity, from a love for humanity’.[5]

Titus’s Opening Words
The opening words of Titus’s address are striking and their effect on his original audience must have been electrifying: ‘Among the many questions I put myself none exercises me more than the riddle of why so many educated persons, proud and puffed-up over progress, turn away from God’.[6] Immediately, sounding a note which will resonate throughout his lecture, Titus seeks to avoid the ‘blame game’ and asks ‘Why is the image of God so obscured that many are no longer impressed by it? Is the fault all on their side, or is something required of us to make it again shine forth more brightly over the world?’[7]

An Invitation
As a good academic, Titus sets out the aims and methods, establishing both the scope and the limitations of his presentation as follows: ‘I merely wish to share a few thoughts which this question evokes in me, in the modest hope that proposing this question in this place will benefit Catholic learning; not for the answer I give, but in order that this partial and imperfect answer may lead others to a better and completer one...’[8] This is no ‘false modesty’ on Titus’s part but an invitation to profound participation and response on the part of the audience and the eventual reader. And so, Titus will give his thoughts concerning the concept of God over the course of history and in his present time, but he is clear that each of us must follow his lead and do likewise in our own place and in our own time. Technically we might describe Titus’s method, therefore, as heuristic, meaning a process or system designed to enable a person to discover or learn something for themselves.

A Positive Approach
In addition to insisting that he will not give all the answers, Titus insists that he will not engage in defence or polemics. True to Titus’s ‘love for humanity’ noted by Cardinal Willebrands, his entire aim is positive, to articulate the image of God in a way in which it can attract and inspire men and women of his time: ‘It is not my intention to defend the concept of God; we already have too much polemics. Too much we follow the negative way of defence and confutation, while it is nobler and more useful in a positive way to make the truth shine forth with its inner light that ever attracts the human spirit’.[9] In the same vein, Titus continues: ‘I believe it is our task, our duty in point of honour, to look about us for this phenomenon of the denial of God, not in the first place to oppose ourselves to it, but taking it into account, to make known the concept of God under new forms, to adapt it to present-day culture in a way that will set forth from the riches of this concept that aspect of its beauty that has the most appeal for our times’.[10]

New Times Require New Forms
A constant refrain of Titus’s lecture is the need to respond to the times and that new times require new forms, in other words, new ways of presenting God. In a sense God, our rock, remains constant but our imaging and our imagining of him can and must change with the times if it is to remain fresh and responsive to the needs of God’s people: ‘Such are the riches of the image of God, and so many are the vantage points from which it can be viewed, that we must be careful not to depend too much on the old, to consider traditional representations sufficient. New times require new forms.[11] This is a powerful message from Titus to Christians in any age.

The Heavenly Diamond
As we shall see, at times throughout his lecture Titus talks about a plurality of images of God, which occur at different times in human history. At other times, however, he speaks of a single image of God with a plurality of aspects (or facets). Employing the image of a diamond (inspired, no doubt, by the Interior Castle of St Teresa of Avila), he states: ‘It is absolutely not my intention to unfold here the whole wealth of the image of God... [I]t would be presumptuous... if I were to attempt in the short span of an hour to show you all the facets of this heavenly diamond’.[12] So the image of God is multi-faceted, it can have many sides like the facets of a diamond. Once again, Titus insists, in line with what he has said about new times requiring new forms: ‘Our time, also, should have its own concept of God’.[13]

The Image
From what we have been saying, it is clear that Titus is convinced that the key thing we need to focus on in our time is the image of God. The title of his lecture, ‘The Concept of God’, sounds very philosophical, very abstract. Technically in philosophy it is possible to trace the production of concepts from images. Titus was well aware of this but his preferred word throughout his talk is image. In other words, notwithstanding the ‘concept’ of his title, what he talks about most of the time is our image of God.

The Image and Theology
Titus’s approach is rooted in the theology of the Old and New Testaments. In the Creation narratives of the Old Testament the human being is created ‘in the image and likeness of God’ (Genesis 1:26). Later in the New Testament Jesus is presented to us as ‘the image of the invisible God’ (Colossians 1:15). Pope Francis speaks of Jesus as the true image (or icon) of the Father.

The Image and Philosophy
Pope Francis’s reflection on Jesus as the icon of the Father puts us in mind of the philosophy of the image in Plato whose philosophy (often in later forms) exercised a major influence on Christian thought through the ages. Plato and the Platonic tradition is referenced by Titus in his lecture. In his dialogue, The Sophist (265b), Plato distinguishes between the true image and the idol. For him, the true image, ‘the icon’ (îkon), is true because it is an image of a something true beyond itself. In contrast, the false image, ‘the idol’ (eidôlon), is false since it does nothing other than draw attention to itself. For Titus, the image of God in any age (if it is a true image) is an icon which draws our attention to God rather than to itself. Otherwise it is not a true image but an idol and not a true presentation of God.

The Image of God and Evangelisation
Titus’s focus on the image is rooted in the theology of evangelisation. He is convinced that the image of God we present to the world of today is key to the effective spreading of the Good News. In a sense God and the truths of God are unchanging and there is great assurance for the believer in this. But the presentation, the imaging, the imagining can change with and for the times. Titus would relate this to Mary in his spirituality. He was always fascinated by Mary as ‘God bearer’ and spoke about all Christians as ‘God bearers’ in our world in imitation of her. At one point Titus says that we are to be ‘other Marys’.[14] Titus is asking us to be bearers of God in our world and, in his lecture, to be careful and to pay attention to what image of God we bring to our world in what we say and in what we do. So, for Titus, the image of God we present to the world and promote is very important to spreading the Gospel. And Titus also realised that the image of God is very important in our own individual spirituality too.

Images and Spiritual Growth
Retreat givers and spiritual directors are keenly aware how the image of God we have is key to spiritual growth and development. A distorted image of God can compound a distorted self-image. And at times we can project false images on to God. Images are key aspects of human experience and we need to be attentive to the images we live by.

The Beauty of the Image of God and Human Emotions
In his lecture Titus uses several words to describe how the image of God should connect emotionally with people. Briefly surveying the occurrence of ‘emotional language’ in Titus’s lecture, we find him saying that the image of God should: appeal (mentioned twice in the lecture), attract (mentioned twice), enchant (mentioned twice), charm (mentioned three times), inspire (mentioned eight times by Titus), and finally that the image of God should attract on account of its beauty is mentioned some twenty-three times by Titus.

Titus and the Image
Titus’s sensitivity to human emotion is revealing of his deep understanding of human psychology. Titus understood the meaning of the saying that for us ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’. He understood that one of the best ways we can think of something or relate to something is with an image. At one point in his lecture Titus declares with passion: ‘We like to act and speak in images... We like examples and memory helps’.[15] Many of you may be already familiar with the kind of images Titus liked to use when speaking about the spiritual life and how we meet God in our lives. Among the images Titus himself used in communicating his message were: Niagara Falls, the image of the dark tunnel, the sunflower, the aforementioned diamond, the busy bee, and the fountain of living water. Some of these have ‘local colour’, drawn as they are from Dutch experience, from Titus’s experience of travel, from Titus’s experience at Dachau, but also from Jacques de Vitry (1180-1240), the famous chronicler who first mentions the hermits on Mount Carmel (cf. the busy bee), or from Teresa of Avila (cf. the diamond; the fountain of living water):

The Waterfall: ‘I am listening to the roar and seething of Niagara Falls, ...the water pouring past me... I see not only the richness of the nature of water, its measureless potentiality; I see God operating through the work of his hands and the revelation of his love.’[16]

The Dark Tunnel: ‘Do not yield to hatred. Be patient. We are here in a dark tunnel but we have to go on. At the end, the eternal light is shining for us.’[17]

The Sunflower: ‘It is characteristic of [the Sunflower] to turn itself towards the sun and moreover it is an image of the sun. It is a simple flower; it can grow in all gardens and it is an ornament to all. The flower itself represents the soul created after God’s image in order to absorb the sunlight of God’s bounty. Two suns shining into each other.’[18]

The Busy Bee: ‘Is not [the busy bee] a perfect image of our lives? All the myriad sprigs, the simple duties of our daily round, done in the spirit of love and penance, bloom along the autumn moorland of our lives. They are rich with honey. So like the busy bees, let us build up our spiritual store from the actions of our daily routine.’[19]

The Fountain: ‘We should ask Jesus every day not to deny us his living water. He will give it to us in the Blessed Sacrament. It is the font which we place in the middle of our mystical garden, not only to enjoy the constant presence of Jesus, but also so that we might always obtain the living water with which we should water the flowers and the plants.’[20]

Returning to the text of his 1932 lecture, Titus talks about further images of God we can have:

Our imagination plays a richly varied game with the imaging of God. He is our emperor and king, he is the good shepherd, the trusted leader; he is our father, our protector; he breathed life into us, he preserves us; he leads the stars and planets on their way, gives life to plants and animals; he carries the world in his hand and guarantees its peaceful subsistence; he dwells in us.[21]

Titus concludes: ‘I could continue in this manner with image upon image that express our imaging of God in one form or another. One image is more beautiful than the other, but if we put them all together, our image of God is still only imperfectly expressed, and we feel the need of constantly new images to give expression to it.’

The Image of God through History
As he continues his lecture, Titus tells his listeners that it is important to learn from history, particularly (in the case of Titus and his audience) Dutch history. In human history there have been various images of God. Often one image of God can dominate at a particular time. Sooner or later one image can be replaced by another image. As a philosopher, Titus was undoubtedly influenced here by his reading of the work of Henri Bergson (1859-1941): Bergson is named explicitly by Titus at one point in his lecture but the influence of the French philosopher is discernible throughout.[22] Bergson’s influence is evident in the way Titus traces the evolution of the image of God through history, in Titus’s particular discussion of intuition and abstraction (technical philosophical aspects of the 1932 paper are not dealt with in this article), and also, it would seem, in Titus’s understanding of God as the ground of our being (which we will consider later in this article).
Titus takes his listeners on a tour through the history of the image of God. What is interesting is that each time Titus moves on to consider a different image of God he always praises what is good and true in the past, even as he moves on to consider future images of God. Remember, our imaging of God can have many sides to it, many facets like the diamond. Titus thinks society can have a dominant image of God at a particular time. He thinks we should try to seek to identify the dominant image of God in any era. He also thinks that we need to look within and see what is the dominant image of God operating within ourselves. For Titus, we can learn a lot about society in relation to God and a lot about ourselves in relation to God by paying attention to the image of God which is preeminent.

God as Triumphant Leader
For Titus, the first image of God he discerns in history is that of God as triumphant leader: ‘In a word, God is might and majesty, enthroned in high heaven, but his kingdom is also in this world, where he has his chosen ones whom he leads and protects’.[23] This, Titus says, is the kind of image of God that emerged in Dutch history in the period which saw a move away from paganism. The image of God then was that of a mighty ruler, a warrior against whom local gods were powerless.

God as Illuminator
A second image of God emerges and gains a hold in time. Titus says it ‘deepens’ and ‘ennobles’ the first. The first image had God as triumphant leader. In time this was replaced by the image of God as a leader from within. God began to be seen as shining a light which comes from ‘on high’ but which enlightens and warms our hearts. God is without but he is also within us. There is an Irish connection here, for Titus. In his lecture Titus explicitly mentions the great Irish thinker of the ninth century, John Scottus Eriugena, in connection with the view of God as illuminator. Eriugena, with his knowledge of Greek, was an important mediator between the Latin West and Greek East on the European continent in the ninth century.

God as Incarnate
The next phase in the image of God Titus locates in the span of centuries from the 1100’s to the 1300’s. The line from St John’s Gospel becomes important: ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us’. The emphasis was on the fact that God became human, actually took on human flesh, and that, therefore, the human being, body and soul, is made noble again. The view of God as illuminator brought God closer but he still seemed a little far away. Promotion of the image of God made human was greatly helped by Saint Francis with his devotion to the child in the manger. St Francis was a great promoter of the crib which, while it did not take away from God’s divine nature, did help to emphasise that God took human flesh and that he can relate to us because of this and we to him. Titus says that the emphasis is no longer ‘the ascent of man to God, but rather the descent of God to man, the revelation of God’s love... the coming of God to us, so that we might unite ourselves to him and become constantly more aware of our oneness with him.’[24] For Titus, the image of God as incarnate is that of God as ‘the God-with-us who came down to us in unutterable love, was born and died for us; in whose incarnation we have the image according to which we should pattern ourselves in order to receive God into ourselves according to our receptivity to the divine descent and indwelling.’[25]

God as Social Image
Titus sees the development in the fifteenth Century of what he calls the ‘social image of God’. Here the emphasis is on externals, on external practice which can be to the detriment of the interior life. This, Titus says, led to the ‘externalisation of religious life’, and to the Church being closely identified with society: ‘We became attached to all sorts of externals which took the place of interior adoration of God’.[26] No one more strongly promoted rallies, processions, and pilgrimages than Titus, but here he insists that these public exercises must all have an interior dimension. The social image of God could lead to an emphasis on externals, on external practice. Titus warns about the dangers of public religion lacking interiority: ‘We would like to call this a social image of God, an image of God served and paid homage to by outward society. It was certainly a further development of the concept of God, but one which led to the point where God was seen only as the object of homage and honour by external show.’[27]

The God of Calvinism and Jansenism
Titus is very ‘ecumenical’ in recognising certain negative trends in both Roman Catholic and Reformed traditions regarding the image of God. He identifies a change in the image of God which came as reaction to the social view. Personal faith became all important for Calvinists (in the Reformed tradition) and for Jansenists (in the Roman Catholic tradition). But, Titus says, it was at times ‘characterised by an exaltation of God above man, who can do nothing except through God... This is going too far in depreciating man’s autonomy and ability to act...’[28]

Other Images of God
Other images of God which emerged over the course of human history, for Titus, are those implied in what are known as Monism and Deism. Monism sees reality as all one (plurality is an illusion) in a way which does not distinguish God from creation. While it is good to have a unified view of reality, there is a need to distinguish between Creator and created. Deism makes God so separate from creation that God is no longer involved, once God creates. God is utterly remote.

A Sketch – A Black and White Image – Broad Strokes
Using several artistic analogies, Titus is clear that what he has provided is merely a series of sketches, broad strokes, or a black and white representation of the various images of God (or facets of the diamond) which have occurred through human history. His aim, again, is to encourage his listeners and his eventual readers to undertake similar reflection for themselves:

Oh, I know that my picture of the image of God through the ages, with special reference to our country, is far from complete and does not render all the colours and tints of this rich image. It is like a black on white reproduction of a masterpiece of colouring. But what can I do in an hour? I have to restrict myself to a few broad strokes, in order to provide at least some insight, to construct an outline under which numberless variations can be resumed. I am convinced that from my very first words, at each picture that I painted with rough strokes, your memories called up a wealth of nuances. That I have been able again to conjure up these images in you is for me a reason to be pleased, and was the purpose of my exposition. My sole purpose in presenting this short historical sketch by way of an example was to bring before your minds again the many-sidedness of the concept of God and to show you how it can adapt itself to changing times.[29]

Titus’s ‘history lesson’ is intended to show that while God remains the same our image of God can change with and for the times. At the same time Titus is seeking to bring out the positive in each image of God in each period while recognising certain imbalances that can occur on the human side as we try to image God.

The Challenge for Our Times
In the end, though, a history lesson is all well and good. The pressing question remains, for Titus: What is the image of God in our time? And more than this, Titus challenges us to ask: ‘What image of God is needed for our times?’ Titus says: ‘It is therefore not enough to determine the image of God which rules our thought, and not only ours but also of the world around us, of the great currents which at the moment lead the life of thought; we must ask ourselves, besides, how far that image corresponds to the needs of the times and is adapted to the mentality of today, as most fitting for this time, the most appealing to the multitude.[30]
Remember, this does not mean that Christianity gives in to dominant ideologies, that it gives up on being counter-cultural, but it needs to meet people where they are most needy by presenting the right kind of image of God.

The Image of God for Today
At this point Titus declares what he considers to be the image of God most apt for his times:

We must see God first of all as the deepest ground of our being... We must be found in continuous contemplation of God and adore him not only in our own being, but just as much in all that exists, first of all, in our fellow human beings, but also in nature, in the universe, as he is omnipresent and permeating everything with the work of his hands.[31]

This idea of God as ‘the ground of our being’ may seem strange. It is quite a philosophical notion. Titus was, after all, aware of his audience as he gave his inaugural lecture. It may have an unmistakably philosophical ‘ring’ to it but it is rooted in Sacred Scripture. In Exodus 3:14, God reveals himself to Moses in the burning bush as ‘I am who I am’, the ‘I am’ who is being itself and in virtue of whom everything that exists has being: as being itself God is the ground of our being. Furthermore, the Acts of the Apostles (17:28) speak of God as the one ‘in whom we live, and move and have our being’. Titus thinks this image of God can permeate our lives and inform our engagement with the world:

Among the many elements that endear the concept of God to us none can be pointed out that bestows such enchantment as the idea that God dwells within us, that we are able to discover him and by reflection contemplate him in ourselves and with us in everything that surrounds us, while that divine indwelling can become a bright radiance permeating our whole life.[32]

Titus was fully aware that it is not always easy to discern this image of God as dwelling within us and everywhere present and at work in our world. In his lecture Titus readily recognises the ‘choppy waters’ that can make discerning God’s image difficult, but nonetheless we can know God in our being, we can see him and live in contemplation of him, which will influence our conduct and reveal God in our actions:

We can see into those depths. The water may provide a difficulty and through the storms of life often become so troubled that only after rest and reflection our glance may be able to penetrate those depths. We possess the faculty for that sight. God can be known in our being. We can see him and live in the contemplation of him. That contemplation will not take place without his influence on our conduct. Hence he will also reveal himself in our actions.[33]

Like all Carmelites, Titus is careful in his use of the term ‘contemplation’. The Carmelite tradition teaches that contemplation is a gift from God, not primarily something we do. But we can, Titus thinks, grow in contemplation and with God’s help we can grow as contemplatives. Contemplation in the Carmelite tradition is always a relationship. It requires receptivity (on our part) and grace (on God’s part). In one of his articles for a daily newspaper Titus wrote: ‘Every Christian has this quality: to be receptive before God. Everyone has a spark which is at once light and fire, which causes true wisdom as well as most pleasing and pure love, which in the soul becomes the beginning of life with God.’[34] This is Titus’s version of the universal call to holiness that became so important in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. Returning to his 1932 lecture, Titus says: ‘Although only a chosen few will arrive at the highest contemplation, we must all bring ourselves to an ever clearer contemplation’.[35] Titus elsewhere sees contemplation literally opening a new dimension on life: ‘We should look on life as a march through the desert towards Horeb in order to see God and to find a completely new dimension to our existence in the contemplation of God. There should be a foretaste of heaven already in this life as we seek to see God united to us as much as possible: God is living and acting in every real situation of ours.’[36] As contemplatives we learn to look on life in new ways. Titus tells us it opens ‘a new dimension to your existence’. It enables the image of God as deep within me and everywhere present and at work to take root. Being contemplative is allowing ourselves to be loved and to look at the world with eyes of love, allowing God to reveal himself in our actions.

I would suggest Titus Brandsma lived and died by the image of God as ground of our being, deep within each one of us and everywhere present and at work. This image of God was ultimately what gave him courage to stand up against Nazi ideology, what sustained him in prison, what strengthened him for life in captivity, what enabled him to love and not hate his captors, what enabled him not to give up on his principles, what informed the tenderness with which he treated the nurse who administered his final injection. Titus was, as we know, no pushover! He was determined, daring and courageous. Titus, after all, was the one who insisted that anyone who wants to win the world for Christ must be prepared to come into conflict with it. But, I would suggest, Titus approached even conflict in love, and as a contemplative. For Titus, evil had to be countered by love, by the good, and by the true. God is the ground of each and every human and is everywhere present and at work. No one has the right to debase humanity or to deface creation. Titus concludes his lecture with reference to Mary, Mother of Carmel: ‘We have an image for developing our representation of God. Once there was a Virgin who became the Mother of God made man, who gave us God as the Emmanuel... She is called to direct our gaze to God... may she lead us through our minds to the contemplation of God in all he has created, so that, as he lived in her, he may also live in us.’[37]

[1]    The current article is the text of a lecture given by the author at Gort Muire, Ballinteer (September 16, 2017) and again at the Carmelite Friary, Kinsale, Co. Cork (November 26, 2017).
[2]    Titus Brandsma, O.Carm.: The Concept of God: Discourse by Titus Brandsma, O.Carm., on the occasion of his investiture as Rector Magnificus of the Catholic University of Nijmegen, on the anniversary of its foundation (Dies Natalis), October 17, 1932. Original title: Godsbegrip, 2e druk, Nijmegen, Dekker en van de Vegt, l932. The late Joachim Smet, O.Carm., made his English translation available to me some fifteen years ago. It is now available online in PDF at the website of the British Province of Carmelites: (All references hereinafter are to that online text, simply indicating the relevant section).
[3]    Joseph Rees: Titus Brandsma: A Modern Martyr. London: Sidgwick and Jackson: 1971. Chapter 7 ‘V.I.P.’, pp. 68-90.
[4]    Johannes Cardinal Willebrands: ‘Nijmegen Sermon, July 31, 1977’ in Redemptus Valabek, O.Carm., ed.: Essays on Titus Brandsma: Carmelite Educator, Journalist, Martyr. Rome: Institutum Carmelitanum, 1985. p. 68.
[5]    Ibid., p. 69.
[6]    Titus Brandsma: ‘The Concept of God’, Introduction.
[7]    Ibid., Introduction.
[8]    Ibid., Introduction
[9]    Ibid., Introduction.
[10]  Ibid., Introduction. My emphasis.
[11]  Ibid., Introduction. My emphasis.
[12]  Ibid., Introduction.
[13]  Ibid., Introduction.
[14]  Titus Brandsma: The Beauty of Carmel. Dublin: Clonmore and Reynolds, 1955. p. 66.
[15]  Titus Brandsma: ‘The Concept of God’, XVIII.
[16]  Quoted in Michael Mulhall, O.Carm., ed.: Albert’s Way: The First North American Congress on the Carmelite Rule. Rome and Barrington, IL, 1989. p. vi.
[17]  Quoted in Boniface Hanley, OFM: Through A Dark Tunnel: The Story of Titus Brandsma. Dublin: Veritas Publications, 1987. pp. 26-27. Titus used the image of the ‘dark tunnel’ on more than one occasion. The quotation given comes from words of encouragement frequently offered to his fellow prisoners at Dachau. On at least one other occasion Titus counselled a religious sister who served as sacristan at the nursing home at which he celebrated Mass: ‘We must not wish to see everything but live by faith; that is a darkness, a dark tunnel; you must pass through it, Sister’. Titus followed these words to the sister with some lines from St John of the Cross. Quoted in Joseph Rees, Titus Brandsma: A Modern Martyr (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1971. p. 88).
[18]  Titus Brandsma: The Beauty of Carmel. p. 66.
[19]  Ibid., p. 48.
[20]  Quoted in Redemptus Valabek, O.Carm.: Profiles in Holiness IV. Rome: Edizioni Carmelitane, 2011. p. 83.
[21]  Titus Brandsma: ‘The Concept of God’, X. In general, this article eschews analysis of some of the more technical philosophical aspects of Titus’s 1932 lecture. Titus’s relationship with the thought of Henri Bergson needs more study, as does the detail of Titus’s treatment of intuition and abstraction. Titus’s concern to address the modern tendency to abstraction and to turn it to the good is fascinating. His approach clearly resonates both with Bergson’s take on intuition as well as with the Aristotelian-Thomistic approach to abstraction. Titus’s understanding of God as ‘the ground of our being’ needs scholarly attention, perhaps comparing it to the approach of later thinkers in the Reformed tradition (such as Paul Tillich): on the face of it, however, there would seem to be an important difference between Titus’s understanding of God ‘as the ground of our being’ and understanding God as ‘the ground of being’. An important collection of studies concerning Titus and his 1932 lecture is Kees Waaijman and Frans Maas, eds.: De spiritualiteit van Titus Brandsma: Hoe de tijd ons Godsbegrip bepaalt (Kampen: Ten Have, 2008). The Prior General of the Carmelite Order, Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm., suggests a comparative study of Titus and Martin Heidegger would be revealing: ‘On more than one occasion I stressed that it would be interesting to do a comparative study between Martin Heidegger’s address when he was named rector of the University of Freiburg am Breisgau in 1933 and Titus Brandsma’s address when he was named Rector of the University of Nijmegen one year before’ (Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm.: ‘Introduction’ in Titus Brandsma, In Search of Living Water: Essays on The Mystical Heritage of the Netherlands, transl. Joachim Smet, O.Carm., ed., Jos Huls, O.Carm. (Leuven: Peeters, 2013) p. 12.) Other comparisons could profitably be drawn between Titus’s lecture and the work of Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler (both of whom Titus mentions) and also the thought of Edith Stein (St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross).
[22]  Cf. Titus Brandsma: ‘The Concept of God’, XII.
[23]  Ibid., I.
[24]  Ibid., III. My emphasis.
[25]  Ibid., III. My emphasis.
[26]  Ibid., IV.
[27]  Ibid., IV.
[28]  Ibid., V.
[29]  Ibid., IX.
[30]  Ibid., X. My emphases.
[31]  Ibid., XIII.
[32]  Ibid., XIII.
[33]  Ibid., XIV.
[34]  Quoted in Valabek: Profiles in Holiness IV, p. 89.
[35]  Titus Brandsma: ‘The Concept of God’, XIV.
[36]  Quoted in Valabek: Profiles in Holiness IV, p. 89.
[37]  Titus Brandsma: ‘The Concept of God’, XVIII.

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