"The supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone."

St Albert the Great

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"God has no need of men."

St Philip Neri

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"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."

St Augustine

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Blessed Henry Suso (1295 - 1366) Dominican and German mystic

 

A LITTLE BOOK OF ETERNAL WISDOM (cont)

 

by Blessed Henry Suso

THE FIRST PART

Ch 5. How The Soul Attains Hearty Repentance and Gently Pardon Under the Cross


The Servant.--Now then, cheer up thou soul of mine! Collect thyself entirely from all exterior things into the calm silence of thy interior, that so thou mayest break away, and wander at large, and run wild in the rugged wilderness of an unfathomable sorrow of heart, up to the high rock of misery, now contemplated; and mayest cry aloud from the depths of thy sad and languishing heart, till it resound over hill and valley throughout the sky, and pierce even to heaven before all the heavenly host; and speak with thy lamentable voice thus: Alas, ye living rocks, ye savage beasts, ye sunny meads! who will give me the burning fire of my full heart, and the scalding water of my sorrowful tears, to wake you up, that ye may help me to bewail the unfathomable heartrending woe which my poor heart so secretly suffers?

Me had my heavenly Father adorned above all living creatures, and elected to be His own tender and blessed spouse. And lo, I have fled from Him! Woe is me! I have lost the beloved of my choice, my only one! Woe on my wretched heart! forever woe! What have I done, what have I lost! I have fled from myself, all the host of heaven, all that could give me joy and delight, have fled from me! I sit forsaken, for my false lovers were deceivers. O misery and death! How falsely and miserably have ye not forsaken me, how despoiled me of all the good with which my only love had arrayed me! Alas honour! alas joy! alas all consolation! how am I utterly robbed of you! Whither shall I turn myself?

The entire world has forsaken me, because I have forsaken my only love. Wretched me! when I did so what a lamentable hour it was! Behold in me a late daisy, behold in me a sloe thorn, all ye red roses, ye white lilies! take notice how very quickly that flower withers, fades, and dies, which this world gathers! For I must always thus living, die; thus blooming, fade; thus youthful, grow old; thus healthy, sicken.

And yet, tender Lord, all that I suffer is of small account compared to my having made wroth Thy fatherly countenance; for this is to me a hell and a grief above all grief. Alas, that Thou shouldst have been so graciously kind, that Thou shouldst have warned me so tenderly, and drawn me so affectionately, and that I should have so utterly despised it all! O heart of man! what canst thou not endure! As hard as steel must thou be not to burst utterly with woe. True, I was once called His beloved spouse: woe is me! I am not now worthy to be called His poor handmaid. Nevermore, for bitter shame, may I raise my eyes. Henceforth in joy and sorrow my mouth to Him must be dumb.

O how narrow for me is this wide world! O God, were I but in a wild forest, where no one might hear or see me, but where I could cry aloud to my heart's desire, to the relief of my poor heart; for other consolation I have none! O sin, to what a pass has thou brought me! Woe to thee, thou false world! woe to him that serves thee! How hast thou rewarded me, seeing that I am a burthen to myself and thee, and ever must be. Hail, all hail to you, ye rich queens! ye rich souls, who, by the misfortunes of others, have become wise; who have continued in your first innocence of body and mind; how unwittingly blessed ye are! O pure conscience! O free and single heart! how ignorant are ye of the state of a heart oppressed and sorrowful through sin!

Ah me, poor spouse, how happy was I with my Beloved, and how little did I know it! Who will give me the breadth of the heavens for parchment, the depth of the sea for ink, leaves and grass for pens, that I may write fully out my desolation of soul, and the irreparable calamity which my woeful separation from my Beloved has brought upon me! Alas that ever I was born! What is left but for me to cast myself into the abyss of despair?

Eternal Wisdom.--Thou must not despair. Did I not come into the world for the sake of thee and all sinners, that I might lead thee back to My Father in such beauty, brightness, and purity, as otherwise thou never couldst have acquired?

The Servant.--O what is that which sounds so sweetly in a dead and
outcast soul?

Eternal Wisdom.--Dost thou not know Me? What! art thou fallen so low, or hast thou lost thy senses, because of thy great trouble, my tender child? And yet it is I, the all-merciful Wisdom, I Who have opened wide the abyss of infinite mercy, which is, however, hidden from all the saints, to receive thee and all penitent hearts. It is I, the sweet Eternal Wisdom, who became wretched and poor that I might guide thee back again to thy dignity. It is I, Who suffered bitter death that I might bring thee again to life. Lo, here I am, pale, bloody, affectionate, as when suspended between thee and the severe judgment of My Father, on the lofty gibbet of the cross. It is I, thy brother. Behold, it is I, thy bridegroom!

Everything that thou ever didst against Me will I wholly forget, as though it had never happened, provided only that thou return to Me, and never quit Me more. Wash thyself in My precious blood, lift up thy head, open thy eyes, and be of good cheer. Receive as a token of entire peace and complete expiation My wedding ring on thy hand, receive thy first robe, shoes on thy feet, and the fond name of My bride for ever! Lo, I have garnered thee up with such bitter toil! Therefore, if the whole world were a consuming fire, and there lay in the midst of it a handful of flax, it would not, from its very nature, be so susceptible of the burning flame as the abyss of My mercy is ready to pardon a repentant sinner, and blot out his sins.

The Servant.--O my Father! O my Brother! O all that can ravish my heart! And wilt Thou still be gracious to my offending soul? O what goodness, what unfathomable compassion! For this will I fall prostrate at Thy feet, O heavenly Father! and thank Thee from the bottom of my heart, and beg of Thee to look on Thy only-begotten Son, whom, out of love Thou gavest to bitter death, and to forget my grievous misdeeds.

Remember, heavenly Father, how Thou didst swear of old to Noah, and didst say: I will stretch My bow in the sky; I will look upon it, and it shall be a sign of reconciliation between Me and the earth. O look now upon it, tender Father, how cruelly stretched out it is, so that its bones and ribs can be numbered; look how red, how green, how yellow, love has made it! Look, O heavenly Father, through the hands, the arms, and the feet, so woefully distended, of Thy tender and only-begotten Son. Look at His beautiful body, all rose colour with wounds, and forget Thy anger against me. Remember that Thou art only called the Lord of Mercy, the Father of Mercy, because Thou forgivest. Such is Thy name. To whom did Thou give Thy best-beloved Son? To sinners. Lord, he is Mine! Lord, he is ours!

This very day will I enclose myself with His bare extended arms in a loving embrace in the bottom of my heart and soul, and living or dead will never more be separated from Him. Therefore, do Him honour today in me, and graciously forget that wherein I may have angered Thee. For, methinks it were easier for me to suffer death than ever to anger Thee, my heavenly Father, again. Neither afflictions nor oppressions, neither hell nor purgatory, are such causes of lamentation to my heart, as that I ever should have angered and dishonoured Thee, my Creator, my Lord, my God, my Saviour, the joy and delight of my heart.

Oh, if for this I could give voice to my grief of soul, through all the heavens, till my heart should burst into a thousand pieces, how gladly would I do it! And the more entirely Thou forgivest my evil deeds, so much the greater is my sorrow of heart at having been so ungrateful in return for thy great goodness. And Thou, my only consolation, Thou my tender elected one, Eternal Wisdom! how can I ever make Thee a complete and proper return of thanks for having at so dear a rate healed and reconciled with Thy pangs and wounds the breach which all created beings could not have made good? And, therefore, my eternal joy, teach me how to bear Thy wounds and love-marks on my entire body, and how to have them at all times in my keeping, so that all this world, and all the heavenly host, may see that I am grateful for the infinite good which, out of Thy unfathomable goodness alone, Thou hast bestowed on my lost soul.

Eternal Wisdom.--Thou shouldst give thyself and all that is thine to Me cheerfully, and never take them back. All that is not of absolute necessity to thee shouldst thou leave untouched; then will thy hands be truly nailed to My cross. Thou shouldst cheerfully set about good works and persevere in them; then will thy left foot be made fast. Thy inconstant mind and wandering thoughts shouldst thou make constant and collected in Me; and thus thy right foot will be nailed to My cross. Thy mental and bodily powers must not seek rest in lukewarmness; in the likeness of My arms they should be stretched out in My service. Thy sickly body must often, in honour of my dislocated bones, be wearied out in spiritual exercises, and rendered incapable of fulfilling its own desires. Many an unknown suffering must strain thee to Me on the narrow bed of the cross, by which thou wilt become lovely like Me, and of the colour of blood. The withering away of thy nature must make Me blooming again; thy spontaneous hardships must be to My weary back as a bed; thy resolute resistance to sin must relieve My spirit; thy devout heart must soften My pains, and thy high flaming heart must kindle My fervid heart.

The Servant.--Now, then, fulfill Thou my good wishes, according to Thy highest praise, and according to Thy very best will; for indeed Thy yoke is sweet, and Thy burthen light: this do all those know who have experienced it, and who were once overladen with the heavy load of sin.