It is a shame that some Catholics have succumbed to the falsehood that any spiritual book written prior to Vatican II is antiquated and of no value for the souls of contemporary Catholics hungering for spiritual nourishment and guidance. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Have you ever heard of The Little Book of Eternal Wisdom written by Blessed Henry Suso, O.P., a fourteenth century Dominican priest and mystic? I just discovered this gem and will be spending a great deal of time mining the wisdom contained in this forgotten book. While its language needs some updating (which I have attempted to do in the following excerpts), its insights are eternal. It’s a little lengthy but worth the read.
The book sets forth an on-going dialogue between God (Eternal Wisdom) and a man (the Servant) who is searching for Wisdom and Truth. In Chapter XXIII (How We Ought Lovingly To Receive God) the Servant comes to a life-changing realization of how he has taken the Eucharist for granted. Let’s listen in on a portion of the conversation between this soul and His God. We will no doubt find much fruit for our own contemplation:
“The Servant…Lord, teach me how I should behave myself towards You, how, with due honor and love, I should receive You.
Eternal Wisdom.--You should receive Me worthily, you should partake of Me with humility, you should keep Me earnestly, you should embrace Me with conjugal love, and have Me in My godly dignity before your eyes. Spiritual hunger and actual devotion must impel you to Me more than custom…
The Servant…I have plucked the red roses and have not smelt them; I have wandered among the blooming flowers and have not seen them; I have been as a dry branch amid the fresh dews of May. Never, O never can I sufficiently repent Your having been for many a day so near me, and my having been so far from You. O, sweet guest of pure souls, what a sorry welcome have I hitherto given You, what an ill return have I so frequently made You! How little desirous have I not shown myself of the sweet bread of angels! I had the precious balsam in my mouth, and felt it not. Ah, Thou delight of all angelic eyes, never as yet did I feel true delight in You! If it were announced to me that a bodily friend would visit me in the morning should I not rejoice at it all the night before? And yet, never did I prepare myself for the reception of You, as in reason I ought, You worthy guest, whom heaven and earth equally honor… O God, how often have I stood distracted and without devotion on the very spot where You were before me, and with me in the Blessed Sacrament; my body indeed stood there, but my heart was elsewhere. How often have I thought so little of You in Your presence, that my heart has not even offered You an affectionate salutation, with a devout inclination? Gentle Lord, my eyes ought to have looked at You with joyous delight, my heart ought to have loved You with the fullness of desire, my mouth ought to have praised You with heartfelt, fervent jubilee; all my strength ought to have melted in Your glad service. What did not Your servant David do who leapt so joyously with all his might before the ark, in which there was nothing but corporal bread of heaven, nothing but corporal things! Lord, now do I stand here before You, and before all Your angels, and with bitter tears fall at Your feet…O, forgive me all the dishonor that ever I offered You, for I am sorry for it, and must ever be sorry for it; for the light of Your wisdom begins only now to enlighten me; and the place where You art, not only according to Your divinity, but according to Your humanity, shall be honored by me evermore…Tell me, gentle Lord, what is it You give Your beloved with Your real presence in the Sacrament, provided she receives You with love and desire?
Eternal Wisdom.--Is that a fitting question for a lover? What have I better than Myself? He who possesses the object of his love, what else has he to ask for? He who gives himself, what has he refused? I give Myself to you, and take you from yourself, and unite you to Me. You lose yourself, and art wholly transformed into Me. What does the sun in his brightest reflection bestow on the unclouded sky? Yes, what does the bright star of the morning dawn bestow on the dark night? Or what do the fair and ravishing adornments of summer bestow after the cold, wintry, melancholy season?
The Servant.--O Lord, they bestow precious gifts.
Eternal Wisdom.--They seem precious to you because they are visible to you. Behold, the smallest gift that flows from Me in the Blessed Sacrament reflects more splendor in eternity than any sunny brightness; it sheds more light than any morning star; it adorns you more ravishingly in eternal beauty than ever did any adornment of summer the earth. Or is not My bright divinity more radiant than any sun, My noble soul more resplendent than any star, My glorified body more ravishing than any ravishment of summer? And yet all these things have you truly received here.
You can find this classic at The Library of Christian Classics.
June 7, 2011