by Fr. Walt Wainwright

In today’s gospel reading from Matthew’s gospel Jesus presents to the crowd that has come to listen to him tow images that would certainly get their attention.  One is that He speaks of a treasure buried in a field and the other the discovery of a very priceless pearl.  Of course, both treasures would get the undivided attention of his listeners as most of the people in the crowd were of the poor class.  To find a treasure, unthinkable but if it happened look for the quickest way to obtain that treasure for your own.

But treasures come in many different forms.  Sure, sometimes they are of the material kind, perhaps a precious stone that would make life a lot easier or the gift of property that would add greatly to one’s sense of security.  All true but the other kinds of treasures might come in the fulfillment of a promise made or through the example of a person’s life and what a blessing that can be for us.

I would like to share with you today at least a glimpse of one such treasure.  In the 1930’s there was a Dutch Carmelite priest by the name of Titus Brandsma.  He was appointed by bishops of Holland to be the advisor to the editors of the many Catholic newspapers of that day that were circulated in Holland.  He gave his full attention to this appointment and set about fulfilling all the responsibilities it entailed.

In the 1941’s the Nazis invaded Holland and one of their goals was to take control of the printed word especially in the newspapers and since there were so many Catholic publications they wanted to control what they wrote in their newspapers.  Before long they issued decrees that all the newspapers had to print the propaganda of the Nazi party.  Since this ran contrary to truth and justice as the Catholic Church believed, Titus Brandsma fought against such a decree.  He personally visited all the newspapers in Holland giving encouragement and hope to all the editors telling them not to give in to the threats of the Nazis.

At one point in his struggle against the Nazis he wrote to the editors of the newspapers, “We are here in a dark tunnel.  We must pass through it.  Somewhere at the end shines the light that leads to the eternal light of truth.”

In January of 1942, Titus Brandsma and several other clergy were arrested and sent to Dachau prison.  There he endured weeks of brutal treatment, all the while maintaining his prayerful determination not to give in to this struggle against justice and truth.  His faith simply would not allow him to surrender to such threats.  However as his health deteriorated, he was sent to the mental hospital and subjected to mental experimentation.  There on July 26th, 1942 Titus Brandsma was killed by a lethal injection of acid.

If we take some time and prayerfully reflect on his life and the courage of his faith and determination we can easily come to the realization that Blessed Titus Brandsma is truly a treasure.  The example of his life is not only an inspiration of heroism but of what true faith and courage mean.  It is very possible that you have never heard of him before reading these few lines but I hope your life is enriches at least a little and realize that you have found a new treasure.

Continue to enjoy the summer days.

Fr. Walt