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A Little Book of Eternal Wisdom
* A Little Book of Eternal Wisdom
o A FORWARD
o THE PARABLE OF THE PILGRIM
o TRANSLATORS NOTE
o BLESSED HENRY SUSO'S PREFACE TO HIS BOOK
* LITTLE BOOK OF ETERNAL WISDOM
o PART THE FIRST
+ CHAPTER I. How Some Persons Are Unconsciously Attracted by
+ CHAPTER II. WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE THE CRUCIFIXION
+ CHAPTER III. How It Was With Him on The Cross According to
The Exterior Man
+ CHAPTER IV. How Very Faithful His Passion Was
+ CHAPTER V. How The Soul Attains Hearty Repentance and Gently
Pardon Under the Cross
+ CHAPTER VI. How Deceitful The Love of This World is, And How
Amiable God Is
+ CHAPTER VII. How Lovely God Is
+ CHAPTER VIII. An Explanation of Three Things Which Most of
All Might Be Likely To Be Repugnant To A Loving Heart In God.
One Is, How He Can Appear So Wrathful And Yet Be So Gracious
+ CHAPTER IX. The Second Thing.--Why God, After Rejoicing The
Heart, Often Withdraws Himself From His Friends, By Which His
True Presence is Made Known
+ CHAPTER X. The Third Thing.--Why God Permits His Friends To
Suffer So Much Temporal Suffering
+ CHAPTER XI. On The Everlasting Pains of Hell
+ CHAPTER XII. On The Immeasurable Joys of Heaven
+ CHAPTER XIII. On The Immeasurable Dignity of Temporal
+ CHAPTER XIV. On The Unspeakable Advantages to Be Derived From
Meditating on The Divine Passion
+ CHAPTER XV. From The Fond Caresses Which The Soul Has Has
With God Beneath The Cross, She Returns Again To His Passion
+ CHAPTER XVI. On The Worthy Praise of The Pure Queen of Heaven
+ CHAPTER XVII. On The Unutterable Heart-Rending Grief of The
Pure Queen of Heaven
+ CHAPTER XVIII. How It Was With Him At That Hour in Regard of
His Interior Man
+ CHAPTER XIX. On The Taking Down From the Cross
+ CHAPTER XX. On The Lamentable Separation of the Grave
o THE SECOND PART
+ CHAPTER XXI. How We Should Learn to Die, And of The Nature of
An Unprovided Death
+ CHAPTER XXII. How One Should Live An Interior and Godly Life
+ CHAPTER XXIII. How We Ought Lovingly To Receive God
+ CHAPTER XXIV. A Prayer To Be Said When Thou Goest To Receive
Our Lord's Holy Body
+ CHAPTER XXV. How We Should At All Times Praise God
o THE THIRD PART
+ ON SUNDAY, OR AT MATINS
+ ON MONDAY, AT PRIME
+ TUESDAY, OR AT TIERCE
+ ON WEDNESDAY, OR AT SEXT
+ ON THURSDAY, OR AT NONE
+ ON FRIDAY, OR AT VESPERS
+ ON SATURDAY, OR AT COMPLINE
A LITTLE BOOK OF ETERNAL WISDOM
BLESSED HENRY SUSO
TO WHICH IS ADDED THE
"PARABLE OF THE PILGRIM"
BY: WALTER HILTON
Canon of Thurgarton
BURNS OATES & WASHBOURNE LTD.
PUBLISHERS TO THE HOLY SEE
F. Thomas Bergh, O.S.B.
Petrus Esus Southwarcen
dis 14 Aprilis, 1910
A Little Book of Eternal Wisdom
Jesus and Mary! Sacred names, always united in the mind and heart of
every true Christian. Jesus, model of true manhood; Mary, model of true womanhood. Jesus, begotten of the Father before all ages, the figure of His
substance, by whom were made all things of the Creator; original type, remaining unfallen when every copy fell! Woman, destined from eternity to
crush the head of the unclean demon. Jesus and Mary! Models of the interior
life, to you is dedicated this new edition of a work of one of your devoted
servants, which is well calculated to lead many souls up the path of perfection till they reign with you in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The LITTLE BOOK OF ETERNAL WISDOM is among the best of the writings of
Blessed Henry Suso, a priest of the Order of St. Dominic, who lived a life
of wonderful labours and sufferings, and died in the Fourteenth century with
a reputation for sanctity which the Church has solemnly confirmed. Gregory
XVI granted to the whole Order of St. Dominic the privilege of celebrating
his office, and of offering the Mass yearly in his honour, appointing
Second of March for his festival.
The Order of St. Dominic, known in the Church both as the Order of
Truth and the Order of Preachers, so rich in pontiffs, martyrs, and confessors, is also illustrious for its theologians, its ascetic writers,
its great masters of the Spiritual life. Its mystic theologians stand in the
first rank of those who have sealed the wondrous heights of sublime perfection. Not only have they stood on the mountain tops of the spiritual
life, but they have pointed out, with a clearness surpassed by no other writers, the path of ascent, marking for the unwary its every danger. The
wiles of the enemy are exposed; where, when, and how he seeks to accomplish
our ruin. Our defence is first outlined, and then given in detail. The source of strength is pointed out, and thus the perilous journey may safely
Among the ascetic writers of the Order, mention may be made of St. Thomas Aquinas, Blessed Albert the Great, Master Humbert, St. Antoninus, Dom
Bartholomew of the Martyrs, Ven. Louis of Granada, St. Vincent Ferrer, St.
Catherine of Sienna, and St. Catherine of Ricci, whilst the Illuminated Doctor John Tauler and Blessed Henry Suso are among the first of the great
mystic theologians of the Church.
THE LITTLE BOOK OF ETERNAL WISDOM was translated and published for the
Catholics of England years ago, but has long been out of print. It would be
difficult to speak too highly of this little book or of its author. In
soundness of teaching, sublimity of thought, clearness of expression, and
beauty of illustration, we do not know of a spiritual writer that surpasses
Henry Suso. He clothes virtue in such lovely garments, the path to the sublime heights of perfection is so clearly marked out, that the willing soul is allured onward and assisted upward, till she stands with her blessed
guide in the full light of the Eternal Wisdom.
To this preface it was deemed advisable to add the celebrated "Parable
of the Pilgrim," taken from the writings of Walter Hilton, a Carthusian monk, and afterwards abridged by the venerable contemplative Father Baker,
of the Order of St. Benedict.
The devout reader is earnestly requested to read this parable again and
again before commencing the study of Suso's golden book of Eternal Wisdom.
This parable outlines the whole plan of the spiritual life, it conveys most
useful instructions for those who seriously aim at perfection, which Hilton
designates as the Vision of Peace given to the Soul in Jerusalem. This parable will be understood and appreciated by those only who are hungering
after Justice. They should read it frequently, and fervently pray for grace
to become true pilgrims and pursue the path here clearly marked out, that so
they may arrive at the glorious end.
C. H. McKenna, O.P.
THE PARABLE OF THE PILGRIM
A certain man had a great desire to go to Jerusalem. Not knowing the
right way, he inquired of one he hoped could direct him, and asked by what
path he could reach there in safety. The other said, "The journey there is
long and full of difficulties. There are several roads that appear and promise to lead there, but their dangers are too great. However, I know one
way which, if you will faithfully follow according to the mark's and directions that I shall give you, will certainly lead you there. I cannot,
however, promise you security from many frights, beatings, and other ill-usages and temptations of all kinds, yet if you only have courage and
patience enough to suffer them without quarreling, or resisting, or troubling yourself about them, but pass on quietly, having this only
mind, and sometimes on you tongue, `I have naught, I am naught, I desire naught but to be in Jerusalem,' my life for yours, in due time you will get
there in safety."
The pilgrim, full of joy at the news said, "If only I arrive at length
in safety at the place I desire so much, I care not what miseries I suffer
on the way; therefore, only let me know the course I am to take, and, God
willing, I shall not fail carefully to observe all your directions."--"Since
you have so good a will," said the guide, "though I myself was never so
happy as to be in Jerusalem, yet be assured that if you follow the instructions I shall give, you will arrive safe at the end of your journey."
The advice is briefly this: Before taking the first step on the highway
that leads there you must be firmly grounded in the truths of the Catholic faith. Moreover, whatever sins you find sullying your conscience you must
cleanse by hearty penance and absolution according to the laws of the Church. Having done so begin your journey in God's name; but be sure to have
with you two necessary instruments, Humility and Charity. These are contained in the words above mentioned, which must always be present to your
mind, "I am naught, I have naught, I desire only one thing and that is our
Lord Jesus, and to be with Him at peace in Jerusalem." The meaning and power
of these words you must have continually, at least in your thoughts either
expressly or virtually. Humility says, "I am nothing, I have nothing." Charity says, "I desire nothing but Jesus." You must never lose these two
companions, neither will they consent to be separated from each other, for
they agree lovingly together, and the deeper you establish yourself in
humility the higher you will advance in charity, for the more you see and
feel yourself to be nothing the more ardently you will see and love Jesus,
that by Him who is All you may become something.
This humility is to be exercised not so much in considering your own
vileness and sinfulness, though in the beginning this consideration is good
and beneficial, but rather in a quiet consideration of the infinite being
and goodness of Jesus. You are to behold Him either through grace in sensible devotional knowledge of Him, or, at least, in a full and firm faith
in Him. And such a contemplation of the infinite sanctity and goodness of
Jesus will operate in your mind a much more pure, spiritual, solid and perfect humility, than the reflecting on your own nothingness, which produces a humility much more gross, boisterous and imperfect. In this mirror of sanctity you will behold yourself to be not only the most wretched, filthy creature in the world, but also, in the very substance of
your soul, setting aside the foulness of sin, to be a mere nothing; for
really, in comparison with Jesus who is All, you are nothing. And until you
have and feel that you have the love of Jesus, although you think you have
done ever so many good deeds, spiritually and worldly, you have nothing, for
nothing but the love of Jesus will abide in and fill your soul. Therefore cast aside and forget all other things in order that you may have that which
is the best of all. If you do this you will become a true pilgrim, who leaves behind him house, wife, children, friends, and goods, and denies himself all things in order that he may go on his journey lightly and without hindrance.
If your desire for Jesus still continues and grows stronger, so that
you go on your way courageously, they will then tell you that you may become
ill, and perhaps with such a disease as will bring frightful dreads into
your mind; or perhaps you will become very poor and you will find no charitable person to help you. Do not heed what they say, but if you should
happen to fall into sickness or poverty, still have faith in Jesus and say,
"I am naught, I have naught, I care for naught in this world, and I desire
naught but the love of Jesus, that I may see Him at peace in Jerusalem."
If it should ever happen that through some of these temptations and
your own weakness, you waver and perhaps fall into sin, and thus lose the
way for a time, return as soon as possible to the right path by using such
remedies as the Church ordains. Do not think of your past sins, for that
will harm you and favour your enemies; but make haste to go on your way as
if nothing happened. Think only of Jesus, and of your desire to gain His
love, and nothing will harm you.
Finally, when your enemies see that you are so determined that neither
sickness, fancies, poverty, life, death, nor sins discourage you, but that
you will continue to seek the love of Jesus and nothing else, by continuing
your prayer and other spiritual works, they will grow enraged and will not
spare you the most cruel abuse. They will make their most dangerous assault
by bringing before you all your good deeds and virtues, showing that all men
praise, love, and honour you for your sanctity. This they will do to make
you vain and proud. But if you offer your life to Jesus you will consider all this flattery and falsehood as deadly poison to your soul, and will cast
it from you.
In order to shun such temptations renounce all vain thoughts and think
of Jesus only, resolving to know and love Him. After you have accustomed yourself to think of Him alone, any thoughts not relating to Him will be
unwelcome and painful to you.
If there is any work you are obliged to do for yourself or neighbour fail not to do it as soon and as well as you can, lest by delay it may
distract your thoughts from Jesus. If it is unnecessary work do not think
about it, but dismiss it from your thoughts saying, "I am naught, I can do
naught, I have naught, and I desire naught but Jesus and His love."
It will be necessary for you, as for all other pilgrims, to take, on
the way, sleep and refreshments and sometimes innocent recreation; but if
you use discretion in these things, although they seem to delay you, they
will give you strength and courage to continue on your journey.
To conclude, remember that your principal aim, and indeed only business, is to give your thoughts to the desire of Jesus, and to strengthen
this desire by daily prayer and other spiritual works. And whatever you find
suitable to increase that desire, be it praying or reading, speaking or
being silent, working or resting, make use of it as long as your soul finds
delight in it, and as long as it increases the desire of having and enjoying
nothing but the love of Jesus and the blessed sight of Jesus in true peace
in Jerusalem. Be assured that this good desire, thus cherished and continually increased, will bring you safely to the end of your pilgrimage.
Observing these instructions, you are in the right path to Jerusalem.
To proceed on this journey, it is necessary to do, inwardly and outwardly,
such works as are suitable to your condition, and such as will help to
increase in you the gracious desire that you have to love Jesus only. No
matter what your works are, whether thinking, reading, preaching, labouring,
etc., if you find that they draw your mind from worldly vanity and strengthen your heart and will more to the love of Jesus, it is good and
profitable for you to pursue them. But if through custom, you find such works in time lose their power and virtue to increase this love, cast them