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 the 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 scaled 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 be made.
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.