Blessed Henry Suso

Blessed Henry Suso’s blessed plight

There is not one amongst the saints that has not lived on the cross, not one that has not been content to suffer thereon with his adorable Master. All of them, like our holy father, St. Benedict, “preferred the scorn of men to their praises, and desired rather to be exhausted with labour than enriched with the favours of this world. Blessed Henry Suso, having been given a short and, with him, extremely rare respite from his continual trials, complained thus of it to the religious sisters who were his spiritual daughters: “I fear I am going to the bad, because for almost four weeks now I have had nothing to endure from anybody. I am very much afraid God has forsaken me. ” Scarcely had he spoken these words when someone came with the news that two powerful persecutors of his had sworn to destroy him. He experienced at first an emotion of fear. “I should like to know how I have deserved to be slain.” “It is on account of the conversions you have made.” “Then God be praised,” he replied; and returning to the convent grille, exclaimed joyously: “Courage, my daughters! God has me still in His thoughts, He has not yet forgotten me.”

Dom Vitalis Lehodey ‘Holy Abandonment’



It is what it is

God has now become all things to him, and all things have become, as it were, God to him, for all things present themselves to him now in the manner in which they are in God, yet they remain each one what as it is in its natural essence…Be steadfast, and never rest content until thou hast obtained the now of eternity as thy present possession in this life, so far as this is possible to human infirmity.  –Blessed Henry Suso

Accepting within stillness,
Perceiving in silence,
Seeing while remaining unseen,
Eternity nails in the flesh of Christ,
Barefoot and head bowed,
Understanding and wisdom,
Eyes open and alert,
Lacking self-consciousness,
The serpent and dove,
Being old while remaining young,
Masculine and feminine combined,
Joseph and Mary loving one another,
Worldly parents to the Savior,
Patient in time,
Affirmed within infirmity,
Daily receiving the Eucharist,
A Holy Hour,
Going out into the world,

Isaiah Chapter 6

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called,
and the house was filled with smoke.
And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips,
and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Then flew one of the seraphim to me,
having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar.

And he touched my mouth, and said:
“Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.”
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”

Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”


Conviction a must: all or nothing

I woke this morning with a strange conviction, a determination made during sleep blossomed while reading in bed a biography of Henry Suso written by the mysterious religious sister known only as S.M.C. of the congregation of Catherine of Siena.  The book I find marvelous as a book in being, printed in 1947 by Blackfriars Publications.  The solid mindset established with the opening of my eyes today is effected by many realms of realities and potentialities.  Two in particular are worth mentioning.  One is the fact I took Saturday and Sunday off from work, allowing complete removal from my new employment.  I made the determination I would think nothing about work, no studying or preparing for the test I will have to take after my ninety day probationary period commences.  I would remove myself from the influence of my new professional environment.  The second factor is a classical guitar concert I attended last night in Shaker Heights by the Serbian artist Ana Vidovic.  She was a delight, a beautiful meditation within sound and vision, however the crowd left me cold, feeling distant and out of my element, a calm matter-of-fact aversion of not belonging, a feeling subtlety establishing permanency.  Discernment identified, the nocturnal conclusion is that if nothing moves forward with the Hospice of the Western Reserve this week, the fact must be interpreted as a solemn sign.  Assumption Abbey will resume as the religious vocation God intends.  The inspiration and invigoration arising during my training with the Hospice cannot be denied, yet the silence is bewildering.  I felt a profound connection with the calling and the organization’s administrators.  I called last week, being informed my paperwork was in order and I would be receiving a call from my organizer within days.  Nothing.  Nothing for three weeks.  I will pursue with effort, tomorrow going to the hospice’s corporate office, asking to meet with one of the women conducting the training sessions, presenting my startled and upset reaction that it has been over three weeks and I have received absolutely no response.  If matters do not progress toward certainty, it must be conclusively determined I have no calling with the hospice.  My focus returns singularly upon North Dakota.  Words from the Henry Suso biography:

Neither was Henry any more natural and at ease within himself than he was with his fellows.  For a while all would go well and he would be happy in this more complete service of God, but such seasons of good cheer were followed by periods of depression and temptation.  He would consider within himself that, after all, there had been nothing really wrong with the life he had been leading, a mediocre religious life of conformity, and so there could be no reason in making himself singular by trying to better it.  Many good people contrived to get the best out of both worlds, and why should he set himself out to be different?  At times those questions fretted him almost beyond endurance, for at the bottom of his heart he knew that for him the spiritual life must be all or nothing.



An individual amidst the Holy Sacrifice of Mass

Two seemingly contrasting thoughts that I would like to bring together.

…no one who was searching the same way for the same thing he was called to. And so he went about, an unloved stranger, and with great self-discipline he stayed away; but doing so caused him much joy later on. –Henry Suso

–Now Father Paul Bernier, Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, from his book “Living the Eucharist: Celebrating Its Rhythms in Our Lives”.

…On Sundays, perhaps the most important event that takes place is the gathering of the community to share in Christ’s own sacrificial meal. It is easy to skip over this fact and concentrate on the liturgical action whereby we are fed at both the table of Christ’s word and of his flesh. Central to a proper understanding of the Eucharist, however is a proper appreciation for the significance of the community that gathers for the celebration….The early church focused instead on what happens to the people who share that bread and wine in memory of Christ.

….For the past few hundred years we have been influenced by a spiritual individualism that has had an insidious effect on our proper understanding of what the church is all about. It leads us to imagine God’s reign as an interior reality in the souls of individual believers scattered over the face of the earth. However, it is not as individuals but precisely as a people that the church can be a credible sign of salvation to the rest of the world.

I do not mean to dive in over my head, yet there is a point that seemed essential this afternoon, instructive in defining my path. A contemplative pursing a three step transformative process, one central to the ancient church, one furthered in the sixteenth century through St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila, many others picking up from there. The Spanish saints invented nothing. They revealed and expressed through written word a truth exercised within the ancient church. The transformative process is threefold in nature. The first being purgation, a cleansing beyond confessional absolution. Psychological damage incurred, self-afflicted and inflicted, is brought to the surface, allowing faith, hope, and charity to center within my heart. The vessel cleansed, never perfect, for within imperfection I will always be. However I am aware of who I am. I am aware of who I am not. I know myself. I am content with myself. I do not want to be someone else. Denials and delusions are defeated. I am not overly sensitive, nor reliant upon others in ways that diminish my centering upon the Trinity, Mary, and the saints. Within weakness, vulnerability, surrendering, a strong prayer life devoted to the Eucharist, I am self-dependent, able to always protect my enlightened self. Knowing who I am, nurturing my soul through prayer and the Eucharist, I come into the second process that being illumination, the gifts of the Holy Spirit graced into my life. My effort is rewarded. God, a loving God, bestows generously. Photosynthesis through the Eucharist experienced. Interiorly my work has been intense, austere as Henry Suso defines. Yet now the words of Father Paul Bernier become important. I remember telling Sister at Our Lady of the Pines that there are times my heart is so filled with love during mass, I am so inspired and lifted by the Poor Clares, that I just want to shower love upon others, yet I am not sure what to do. My heart overflows with an immense love. I plead with Mary to dispense properly, being the Throne of Wisdom, I bow before her majesty. Sister assured me it was a very good sign. She knew what I was talking about. She smiled deeply. Her eyes radiated. I knew when I pleased her, yet let me stress I was not focused upon pleasing her. I was brutally honest. I will say something else. She enforced a strict rule of no apologies, no should of, no maybes, no attempts at false humility, no constant confessing, or defacing myself. Matters were discussed straightforwardly. If she affirmed it was not pop psychology trying to make me feel ok. It was a pat on the back to encourage proper direction. She expanded, stressing the experienced overwhelming infused love during mass must develop into an awareness of those surrounding me, and also those not present: my family, coworkers, basketball friends, those in my life. Focusing upon the Eucharist allows me to love profoundly. This is what Father Paul writes about. That is what the ancient, as well as modern, church accomplishes. To be aware of the incredible fact that celebrating mass with me are creatures made in the image and likeness of God. Gathered together in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we are all equal, one body as St Paul declares. Others want to get to heaven. Others are smart, many smarter and more accomplished than myself. Some are holier and some are not so holy. I am not concerned with damaging nor complimentary details. Particulars, inevitable to a certain degree, deserve no serious attention for I am content in who I am. I am not trying to be anything more. I do not need to feel I am special in any regard, nor am I apologetic for striving upon the contemplative path. I am at peace. I am not isolated, closed as Pope Francis would say. Closed also in the sense that I am only open to those willing to nurture delusion. I do not manipulate. I am content to play the fool if need be. Above all of that thinking is nothing, an emptiness leaving acute awareness. A void created, a focus upon the Eucharist, passive, open, I am able to be filled, highly tuned to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Faith, hope, and charity blossoming into a divine expression. The joy of mass is elevated to the third step of the contemplative process as recognized by the ancient church that being unification, theosis, a transformation in which the will of God becomes an individual’s will. Reaching unification one sees himself and others, all things, as God does, and thus acts accordingly. That one I will leave alone, although I think in everything I have stated the opening to unification is evident. I recall the image of a fireplace poker being left in the burning fire. The poker unifying with the fire, taking on the properties of fire, attains the same luminosity and heat of the fire. It becomes one with the fire.

A perfect photo in concept. I pray this gentleman would be complimented by my usage. It appeared perfect.

A perfect photo in concept. I pray this gentleman would be complimented by my usage. It appears apropos.


Exercising to exhaustion

Relishing my secret garden, Cain Park, within Evan’s Amphitheater, a bluegrass folk quartet proficient upon various instruments—guitar, standup bass, banjo, violin, mandolin, tambourine, harmonic, flute—a sultry alluring woman of red entertaining upon an Irish pennywhistle, the bandleader expounding upon her acquiring her musical skills in prison—a surprise since she appears innocent, anything but an ex-convict, musically at other times she is able to hypnotize with her husky voice, sound effusing, traditional music popping, the practiced perfection is appealing. Minimalist in attendance, the performance does not suffer. Spider Stompers and Sugar Pie. The Conversion of St Paul’s Shrine providing morning Sabbath mass, a sixth day amidst an Our Lady Undoer of Knots novena, Adoration–Sister Mary Thomas hovering near, Father’s day, a nice Saturday with family, my mother experiencing her first wedding anniversary alone, myself celebrating a yearly anniversary of private matters, today, this day, I enjoy a Sunday afternoon of reclining, comfortable in the Evans Amphitheater. Yesterday, I spent the early evening with my niece’s toddler Andre. My niece, vacationing in Mexico, will be away for a week or so. Interregnum, Andre stays with his great-grandmother. I spend the night entertaining the child. I found something spiritual within the endeavor. Walking just under a half mile to a local park, I wanted to see how he would do upon a small adventure, thinking I might have to carry him. He was fine, walking the whole way, holding my hand, calling out at various things he found interesting while walking. His father having abandoned him, a lack of adult male figures in his life, I am touched how much my attention and approval means to him. Once at the park, his shortness of years did not allow him to cover up how obvious of intent he was in impressing me. I smiled, chuckling, providing attention as he sought one courageous exercise after another. Sometimes, I would have to step in when bravado placed him in precarious positions—following older children to the highest slide, or other types of activity beyond his size and abilities. The boy is not afraid of anything as far as I can see. The trip home also proved quite enlightening regarding character. Playground activity behind him, departing the park, he suddenly determined it was no longer necessary to hold hands. I concluded no harm, grasping his hand, showing him he was not the boss, before letting go of his hand, granting his freedom. To my surprise, he responded with a scream ‘I run’ and like that he started running. I could maintain pace with a hurried walk so next to him I traveled. I will be darn if he did not make it almost the whole way home jogging. I could only laugh when we arrived at my mother’s with Andre soaked through his shirt with sweat. Even more delighted was I after a bathing from great-grandmother, Andre collapsed completely into sleep, utterly exhausted. Something spiritual within the endeavor, I imagined God Our Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Holy Mother witnessing our endeavors within life, the tiring, the exhausting of ourselves, and then the conclusion of eternal sleep. It must please everything Divine to the greatest degree to witness us expel ourselves in passion and the pursuit of perceived pleasures, fearing for our salvation, and the delight of us collapsing into salvation. The ruminations, send me to a Henry Suso exploration. Henry Suso’s writing is such a joy. There is something so endearing, wonderfully profound, amusing, a tinge of comedy, within his words. Confident, I am positive we would understand one another, enjoying one another’s company splendidly, two characters of the same making.

Another afflictive exercise…limit himself to an exceedingly small measure of drink…once before Christmas…the Servitor…utterly renounced and put from him all bodily comforts, and moreover had taken upon himself three penitential exercises…he remained after matins until daybreak standing on the bare stones before the high altar…he avoided going to any warm place…never warmed his hands…horribly swollen…the cold…exceeding great….slept upon his bench…stood before the altar on the bare stones till daybreak….abstain altogether from drinking during the day, however great his thirst might be…mouth as dry as that of a sick person in a distemper, and his tongue was so cracked that for more than a year afterwards it would not heal…he stood in choir at compline thus parched with thirst…when the holy water was sprinkled around…he would eagerly open his parched mouth, and gape wide…a little drop of water might fall upon his dried-up tongue and cool it a little…appearing…the gentle Mother of God in heaven…”it is I, the Mother, who gave thee to drink from the little goblet the other night; and, since thou art so exceeding thirsty, I will in pity give thee once more to drink….I will give thee to drink of that healthful drink which flows from my heart….not a corporeal drink which I will give thee, but a healthful, spiritual, and excellent drink of real and true purity”…the Servitor had become very ill, owing to the excessive burden of the afore-mentioned exercises…Our Lord went to the Servitor with the box…opened it…in the box there was fresh blood…Our Lord spread it over the Servitor’s heart…spread it over his hands and feet and all his limbs…”Lord! why dost Thou mark him thus?”…”I will lovingly mark his heart and all his frame with sufferings, and I will heal him, and restore him to health, and I will make of him a man after My whole heart”…from his eighteenth to his fortieth year, a life of exercises…described above—and when his whole frame was now so worn and wasted that nothing remained for him except to die or leave off these exercises, he left them off; and God showed him that all this austerity and all these practices were nothing more than a good beginning, and a breaking through of his uncrushed natural man; and he saw that he must press on still further in quite another way, if he wished to reach perfection. ‘The Life of Blessed Henry Suso’

Henry Suso

Henry Suso

Andre close to trouble

Andre close to trouble


Holy Spirit novena marching forward

The Gift of Fortitude

By the gift of Fortitude the soul is strengthened against natural fear, and supported to the end in the performance of duty. Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and energy which move it to under take without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face dangers, to trample under foot human respect, and to endure without complaint the slow martyrdom of even lifelong tribulation. “He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.”


Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in time of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from Thee, my God and greatest Good. Amen.

Once when he was sitting there…it happened, as in a vision, as if he were somehow led into a different land. It seemed to him that his angel was standing very kindly in front of him to is right. The servant got up quickly and embraced the beloved angel, hugging him and pressing him to his soul as lovingly as he could. There seem to be nothing at all separating them. From a full heart he began to speak with a lamenting voice and weeping eyes, ‘Alas, my Angel. Whom dear God has given me for consolation and protection, I beg you by the love you have for God not to abandon me. “The angel answered and said, “Do you dare to mistrust God? Look, God has embraced you so lovingly in his eternity that he shall never leave you”. –Henry Suso ‘The Exemplar, the Life of the Servant’


The Knight of God –Henry Suso poetry

“For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts ix. 16

As the song of him who singeth,
Playing on a harp of gold,
So to me was Christ’s evangel
In the days of old.

Thus across the lake of Constance
Went I forth to preach His Word,
And beside me sat the squire
Of a noble Lord.

None in all the ship so knightly,
None so bravely dight as he-
“Tell me,” I besought, “thine errand
Yonder o’er the sea.”

“I go forth,” he said, “to gather
Many a knight and noble bold;
They shall tilt at joust and tourney,
Whilst fair eyes behold.

“And the bravest and the noblest
He shall win a glorious prize,
Smiles to boot, and courtly favour
In the ladies’ eyes.”

“Tell me what shall be the guerdon?”
“Lo, the fairest in the land
Sets a gold ring on his finger
With her lily hand.”

“Tell me how the knight may win it?”
“Scars and bruises must he boast,
For the knight shall be the winner
Who endures the most.”

“Tell me, if when first assaulted,
He in knightly guise shall stand,
Shall he win the golden guerdon
From his lady’s hand?”

“Nay, right on, till all is over,
Must a worthy knight hold on;
Bear the brunt, and stand a conqueror
When the fight is done.”

“And if he be wounded sorely,
Will he weep and will he mourn?”
“Nay, in place of winning honour,
He would win but scorn.”

Then my spirit sank within me,
And within my heart I spake-
“O my Lord, thus fight the knightly
For their honour’s sake.

“Small the prize, and stern the battle,
Worthless gain, and weary fight-
Lord, a ring of stones most precious
Hast thou for Thy knight!

“Oh, to be the knight of Jesus!
Scorning pain, and shame, and loss;
There the crown, the joy, the glory,
Here, O Lord, Thy Cross.”

Then I wept, with bitter longing
Thus the knight of God to be;
And the Lord, who saw me weeping,
Gave the cross to me.

Bitter pain, and shame, and sorrow
Came upon me as a flood-
I forgot it was the tourney
Of the knights of God.

And again I wept, beseeching,
“Take the Cross, O Lord, from me!”
Till a light broke like the morning
Over the wild sea.

Then there spake the Voice beloved,
Still and sweet my heart within-
“is it thus, O knight of Jesus,
Thou the prize wilt win?”

“O my Lord, the fight is weary-
Weary, and my heart is sore!”
“And,” he answered, “fair the guerdon,
And for evermore.”

“I have shamed Thee, craven-hearted,
I have been Thy recreant knight-
Own me yet, O Lord, albeit
Weeping whilst I fight.”

“Nay,” He said; “yet wilt thou shame Me
Wilt thou shame thy knightly guise?
I would have My angels wonde
At thy gladsome eyes.

“Need’st thou pity, knight of Jesus?-
Pity for thy glorious hest?
On! let God and men and angels
See that thou art blest!

In the middle ages, the knight was the heroic figure men aspired to be in fantasy and deed–a life of bravery and honor. Chivalry demanded a code of ethics–manliness included virtuous conduct and thought, fighting the good fight, speaking words of wisdom, generosity, and kindness. In a world of brutality and wicked tongues, the knight righteously matched violence with violence, cruelty with compassion and intelligence. The defenseless were to be protected, the weak to be venerated, respected and sheltered. A true knight’s every effort was to God and others. In tournaments, the battlefield and life, a knight dedicated his efforts to a chosen damsel. The lady of honor acknowledging his respect by tying a scarf to the knight’s jousting lance or armory. St Francis aspired to be a knight in his younger days, before turning his heroic efforts over to the religious life. His lady of honor became Lady Poverty, captured so lovingly, allegorically, and fantastically in ‘Sacrum commercium Sancti Francisci cum domina Paupertate’ (The Sacred Bond of Saint Francis with Lady Poverty). The idea leads so fittingly into a devotion to Our Holy Mother.

Knight Praying