German mystic and Dominican friar
While studying at Cologne, Heinrich (Henry) Suso came under the influence of Meister Eckhart, whose writings he defended against charges of heresy. He became a popular preacher and was associated with Johannes Tauler.
At first harshly ascetic, he gradually emphasized detachment rather than mortification as central in the Christian discipline. His mysticism was expressed in terms of the contemporary literary romantic cult of the minnesingers. This gave him the epithet "Sweet Suso". His writings include Das Büchlein der ewigen Weisheit [the little book of eternal wisdom], an autobiography and a guide to beginners in the spiritual life; Das Minnebüchlein [the little book of love]; a scholarly defense of Eckhart and an attack on the Beghards and Brethren of the Free Spirit; and miscellaneous sermons. He was beatified in 1831.
Works by Henry Suso
Imagine bearing a cross to remind you of Christ's sacrifice. This is a common practice in Christianity -- contemplating the pain Christ bore for our sins. But now imagine bearing a cross, literally. This is what Henry Suso did for much of his life. Suso was so adamant about feeling Christ's pain and being reminded of his own ineptitude that he drove nails and needles into a wooden cross and strapped it to his back. This practice of self-harm for religious purposes is known as mortification, and Suso's autobiography profiles a perfect example of this unique custom. Along with many chapters on his suffering and how he made it through, Suso writes of his family, his conversion, and how God blessed his work. This autobiography is a provoking look into Suso's life, and the intensity of his faith and actions will spur many believers to reevaluate their lifestyle and perhaps make some changes. We don't all have to wear a literal cross, but Suso will inspire many to think of Christ's sacrifice in a new way.
This book has everything a reader needs to explore the world of German mysticism. William Inge begins with an introduction of histories, biographies, and summaries of the movement, and his scholarly articles will prove useful for the student of mysticism. Then he includes in the book many examples of the writings of the 14th century Dominicans, the Friends of God. These friends were an informal group of Catholics who strove to deepen both their communal relationships as well as their inner spirituality. Eckhardt, Tauler, and Suso were the major proponents of this theology, and each is represented in Inge's collection. This book is a unique and convenient volume that will assist readers interested in the fascinating movement of German mysticism.
“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. . . . 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.”—from the introduction by C. H. McKenna
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