Blessed Henry Suso (1295 - 1366) Dominican and German mystic
Catholic belief, prayers and spiritual teaching
Blessed Henry Suso (1295 - 1366) Dominican and German mystic
A LITTLE BOOK OF ETERNAL WISDOM (cont)
by Blessed Henry Suso
THE FIRST PART
Ch 17. On The Unutterable Heart-Rending Grief of The Pure Queen of Heaven
Pure Lady and noble Queen of Heaven and Earth, touch my stony heart with one of thy scalding tears, one of those which thou didst shed in bitter distress for thy tender Child under the wretched cross, so that my heart of stone may be softened, and may hearken to thee; for heart-rending grief is of such a nature, that no one can have a true knowledge of it, except him whom it touches. Touch then my heart, O Lady Elect, with thy sorrowful words, and tell me in short significant terms, simply as an admonition, how it was with thee in thy mind, and how thou didst support thyself at the foot of the cross, when thou didst behold thy tender Child, the beautiful and tender Wisdom, so lamentably expire.
Answer.--Thou shouldst hearken to it with sorrow and heartfelt woe; for although I am now exempt from suffering, yet, at that time I was not.
Before I had reached the foot of the cross, I had endured many a great unspeakable anguish of heart, especially at the spot where I first caught sight of the beating, kicking, and ill-usage of my Child, on beholding which my strength forsook me, and thus helpless was I carried after my dear Son to the foot of the cross.
But, in respect of what thou askest, how I felt in my mind, and how I supported myself, listen to as much as it is possible for thee to know; for the whole no heart that ever was made can fathom. Understand, then, that all the sorrow that ever could afflict a heart would only be as a drop in the ocean compared to the unfathomable sorrow which my maternal heart at that time endured; and, understand, at the same time, that the dearer, the sweeter, the more precious the beloved one is, the more insupportable is his loss and death.
Now, where on the whole earth was there ever a more tender one born, a lovelier one seen than my own best beloved one, Jesus Christ, by whom and in whom I had entire possession of all that the world could bestow? I was already dead to myself, and lived only in Him, and when at last my own fair love was slain, then only did I utterly die; and, as my only love was but one, and, moreover, dear to me above all other loves, so my only sorrow was but one, and a sorrow above all sorrows that ever were expressed.
His fair and gentle humanity was, to me, a delightful spectacle; His dignified divinity was, to my eyes, a sweet contemplation; to think of Him was my heart's delight; to speak of Him was my pastime; to hear His sweet words was music to my soul. He was my heart's mirror, my soul's comfort; heaven and earth, and all that is in them, I possessed in His sweet presence. Lo, when I saw my love suspended in mortal agony before me, alas, the sight!
Alas, what a moment was that! How died my heart within me! How was my courage extinguished! How did my strength fail me! I looked up, but I could not help my child. I looked down, and saw only those who so cruelly ill-used Him. O how narrow then to me was all this world! I had lost all heart; my voice had died from me; I had, moreover, lost all strength and yet, when I came to myself, I raised thy feeble voice, and spoke to my Child, complaining, such words as these: Alas, my Child! Alas, thou Child of mine! Alas, my heart's delightful mirror, in which I have so often taken delight to behold myself, how do I now see Thee miserably suspended before me! Alas, thou treasure above all this world!
My mother, my father, and all that my heart can express (such art Thou to me), take me with Thee! Or, to whom wilt Thou leave Thy wretched mother? Oh, who will permit me to die for Thee, to suffer for Thee this bitter death? Oh, misery and distress of a love-torn mother, how am I robbed of all joy, of all love, of all consolation! Oh, thou greedy death, why sparest thou me? Take, take away the poor mother with her poor Child; to her, to live is bitterer than to die! Him, even Him, whom my soul loveth, I see dying!
And as I thus lifted up my voice in lamentation, behold, my Child consoled me very affectionately, and, among other things, said: That in no other way might mankind be redeemed, and that on the third day He intended to rise again and appear to me and His disciples; and He said further: Woman, cease thy weeping; weep no more, my fair mother, I will not forsake thee for ever!
And while my Child thus tenderly consoled me, and commended me to the disciple whom He loved, and who also stood by, full of sorrow (those words of His were conveyed to my heart in a tone so lamentable, and so broken by sighs, that they pierced through my heart and soul like a sharp sword), even the hard hearts of the Jews were moved to compassion for me.
I cast up my arms and my hands, and, in the anguish of my heart, would gladly have embraced my beloved, yet this I might not do. And then I sank down, overwhelmed by my heart-rending grief, at the foot of the cross and became speechless; and when I returned to myself, and could do nothing else, I kissed the blood that trickled down from His wounds, so that my pale cheeks and mouth were all tinged with blood.
The Servant.--Ah, Thou unfathomable goodness, what infinite torture, what infinite misery is this! Whither shall I turn, or to whom shall I cast my eyes? If I look up at the beautiful Wisdom, I only see woe and distress, at which my heart is like to sink within me. They cry out and shout against Him outwardly, the agony of death struggles with Him inwardly, all His veins are on the rack, all His blood gushes away, it is nothing but ejaculations of woe, and cheerless dying without recovery.
Then, if I but turn my eyes to His pure Mother, I see her tender heart pierced, alas! with wounds as though a thousand blades had transfixed it. I see her pure soul lacerated by woe. Never were such gestures of misery and longing seen as hers; deprived was her sick body of all strength, her fair countenance besmeared with mortified blood. Oh, great misery above all misery! The torture of His heart consists in the affliction of His sorrowing Mother; the torture of His sorrowing Mother consists in the innocent death of her beloved Son, more painful to her than her own death. He beholds her and consoles her tenderly; she stretches out her hands to Him, and would gladly die instead of Him.
Alas! which of the two feels here the most bitterly? Whose is the greater distress? To both it is so unfathomable that there never was any equal to it. Alas! the motherly heart. Alas! the tender womanly mind. How was thy maternal heart ever able to support this infinite sorrow? Blessed be that heart compared to whose sorrow everything that ever was uttered of a heart's sorrow is only as a dream to the reality.
Blessed be Thou, O rising blush of morning, above all creatures! And blessed be the flower-enamelled rose-scented meadow of Thy fair countenance, adorned with the ruby red blood of Eternal Wisdom! Alas! Thou affable countenance of beautiful wisdom, how dost Thou fade in death! Alas! Thou beautiful body, how dost Thou hang suspended! Woe is me, Thou pure blood, how hotly dost Thou run down on Thy pure Mother who bore Thee!
Lament, ye mothers, lament with me over this affliction! All ye pure hearts, let this rose-coloured, pure blood which so be sprinkles your pure Mother, go to your hearts!
Behold, all hearts, ye who ever had sorrow, behold and see, if
ever there was sorrow like unto this sorrow! Truly, it is a wonder
that our hearts melt not here for pity and compassion; so great,
indeed, was this distress, that hard stones were rent asunder, the
earth trembled, the sun was extinguished, because they would fain
show compassion for their Creator!