Brandsma: “Love will regain the hearts of the pagans.”

An Irish Carmelite priest was a guest at my student residence this evening.

Over dinner, he mentioned the recent announcement that Titus Brandsma will be canonized.

Not knowing anything of this story, my friends and I asked the priest to tell us the story.

Fr. Brandsma was a Dutch Carmelite priest who worked as a philosophy professor and journalist.

His campaign for the freedom of the Catholic press to refuse to print Nazi propaganda led to his arrest and eventual martyrdom by lethal injection at Dachau.

John Paul II canonized Fr. Brandsma in 1985 saying, “Of course, such heroism cannot be improvised” in attesting to Brandsma’s authentic Catholic upbringing and formation throughout his life.

“Although neo-paganism no longer wants love, love will regain the hearts of the pagans,” Brandsma had said.

John Paul II even recounted that the “nurse” who murdered Brandsma with the lethal injection could not resist acknowledging that Brandsma’s look toward her was one of compassion.

How much are we seized by the conviction that “love will regain the hearts of the pagans”, that death and evil will never have the last word?

Could there be a more beautiful farewell?

Today a friend and colleague of mine shared this incredibly moving video in which a priest who has received a terminal diagnosis bids farewell to the priests, seminarians, and women religious surrounding him with prayer and affection.

With birds chirping, the sunlight shimmering, and a gentle breeze blowing, it seems like Heaven was smiling upon this tender and profound occasion.

Father Michael Kottar speaks briefly saying, “In case I die…” What he chooses to say next reveals the clarity of a person of faith approaching death with a sense of what matters ultimately.

Watching the eyes of Fr. Kottar’s young listeners receiving his words with such ardour and brightness makes an impression. We have the sense that the future of which he speaks is being entrusted into good hands.