Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February 15: Blessed Henry Suso, C., O.P., III Class

Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, we celebrate the feast of Blessed Henry Suso, confessor of the Order of Preachers.  The feast is III Class and the ordinary office is prayed according to the rubrics.  What is proper to the feast is given in the Proper of the Saints.

From the Martyrology:
At Ulm, in Germany, Blessed Henry Suso of Swabia, confessor, of our Order. He was celebrated for observance of the rules of religious life, for the holiness of his fife, and the reputation for miracles. He died January 25, but his feast is observed today.
From “Short Lives of the Dominican Saints” (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, and Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1901):

Henry Suso was a German by birth, and at the age of thirteen took the habit in the Dominican Convent at Constance. He showed but little fervor during his novitiate and lived in negligence and dissipation till he had completed his eighteenth year. But the Divine Wisdom, whose devoted disciple he was destined to become, was pleased to touch his heart. One day, as he sat at table in the refectory, he heard read aloud some passages from the Book of Wisdom, which produced a powerful effect on his soul. He began to undertake a thorough change of life, but was beset by March 2 grievous temptations, all of which he generously and perseveringly overcame. For two-and-twenty years he practiced the most terrific austerities. During eight years he wore on his shoulders a cross studded with sharp nails; twice every day he disciplined himself to blood; day and night he wore a hair shirt armed with one hundred and fifty sharp iron points; and in addition to these mortifications he observed extraordinary abstinence, enduring in particular the utmost extremity of thirst.

Nevertheless, when he had come to his fortieth year, it was revealed to him, that, after all these sufferings, he had only reached the first degree of true mortification, and that, if he would attain the perfect love of God, he must consent to pass through far more searching trials. He had to endure the most cruel calumnies, frightful interior desolation, the loss of friends and of reputation, and a thousand other crosses ; yet in the midst of all these afflictions, which were exquisitely painful to his sensitive heart, he never lost confidence or courage.

Blessed Henry Suso bore a tender devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. He engraved it with a sharp penknife over his heart, and found in that adorable Name a buckler of defense against all the assaults of his enemies. This devotion to the Holy Name was widely diffused amongst his spiritual children, many of whom used to wear a small scapular, on which were embroidered the letters I.H.S.

His love for our Blessed Lady was of the tenderest and most childlike description. During the Christmas season he always deprived himself of a portion of the fruit served at table, offering it in spirit to her and praying her to give it to her Divine Child, for whose sake he went without it. As soon as the first flowers appeared in spring, he hastened to weave a garland which he placed on the head of Mary's statue in the Lady Chapel, in the hope that, as she was the fairest of all flowers and the bliss of summer to his heart, she would not disdain to accept these first flowers from her servant. He had many devotional practices in honor of his Heavenly Mother and she sometimes deigned to show herself to him in vision.

Full of zeal for the salvation of souls, Blessed Henry labored constantly in the ministry of the Word, and was one of the most renowned preachers and spiritual directors of his day. He was endowed with a sublime gift of prayer and the numerous spiritual works which he composed won for him in his own time the title of the Ecstatic Doctor. The best known of his writings is his "Little Book of Eternal Wisdom," which treats chiefly of the Passion of Our Lord.

Blessed Henry passed to a better life in the Convent of Ulm in Germany, on the 25th January, A.D. 1365. From the time of his death he was beatified by the voice of the people, and Pope Gregory XVI approved of the veneration which had been paid to him from time immemorial and gave permission for his Office to be celebrated throughout the Dominican Order.


O God, you made the blessed Henry, your confessor, wonderful both in mortification of body and in charity; grant that we may show forth Christ crucified in our deeds, and live him in our hearts.  Through the same…