It is known that he served as prior of the Constance convent - most likely between and , though possibly in the s. It is also known that he had various devoted disciples, a group including both men and women, especially those connected to the Friends of God movement. His influence was especially strong in many religious communities of women, particularly in the Dominican Monastery of St. Katharinentalin the Argau, a famous nursery of mysticism in the 13th and 14th centuries. The two became close friends. She translated some of his Latin writings into German, collected and preserved most of his extant letters, and at some point began gathering the materials that Suso eventually put together into his Life of the Servant.
He was transferred to the monastery at Ulm in about He seems to have remained there for the rest of his life. Here, during his final years possibly , he edited his four vernacular works into The Exemplar. Suso died in Ulm on 25 January Mortifications Early in his life, Suso subjected himself to extreme forms of mortifications; later on he reported that God told him they were unnecessary.
During this period, Suso devised for himself several painful devices. Some of these were: an undergarment studded with a hundred and fifty brass nails, a very uncomfortable door to sleep on, and a cross with thirty protruding needles and nails under his body as he slept. In the autobiographical text in which he reports these, however, he ultimately concludes that they are unnecessary distractions from the love of God. Writings Suso and Johannes Tauler were students of Meister Eckhart, forming the nucleus of the Rhineland school of mysticism.
This was a short defence of the teaching of Meister Eckhart, who had been tried for heresy and condemned in In this treatise and another possibly the Little Book of Eternal Wisdom were denounced as heretical by Dominican opponents, leading Suso to travel to the Dominican General Chapter held at Maastricht in to defend himself. At some point between and Suso translated this work into Latin, but in doing so added considerably to its contents, and made of it an almost entirely new book, which he called the Horologium Sapientiae Clock of Wisdom.
This book was dedicated to the new Dominican Master General, Hugh of Vaucemain, who appears to have been a supporter of his. At some point in the following decades, Stagel formed a collection of 28 of Suso's letters in the Grosses Briefbuch Great Book of Letters , which survives. There are also various sermons attributed to Suso, although only two appear to be authentic. Suso was very widely read in the later Middle Ages.
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The Latin Clock of Wisdom was even more popular: over four hundred manuscripts in Latin, and over two hundred manuscripts in various medieval translations it was translated into eight languages, including Dutch, French, Italian, Swedish, Czech, and English. First, the world of the Bible presents us with a new image of God. In surrounding cultures, the image of God and of the gods ultimately remained unclear and contradictory. There is only one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, who is thus the God of all.
Two facts are significant about this statement: all other gods are not God, and the universe in which we live has its source in God and was created by him. Certainly, the notion of creation is found elsewhere, yet only here does it become absolutely clear that it is not one god among many, but the one true God himself who is the source of all that exists; the whole world comes into existence by the power of his creative Word.
The second important element now emerges: this God loves man. The divine power that Aristotle at the height of Greek philosophy sought to grasp through reflection, is indeed for every being an object of desire and of love —and as the object of love this divinity moves the world  —but in itself it lacks nothing and does not love: it is solely the object of love.
The one God in whom Israel believes, on the other hand, loves with a personal love. His love, moreover, is an elective love: among all the nations he chooses Israel and loves her—but he does so precisely with a view to healing the whole human race. God loves, and his love may certainly be called eros , yet it is also totally agape. The Prophets, particularly Hosea and Ezekiel, described God's passion for his people using boldly erotic images.
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God's relationship with Israel is described using the metaphors of betrothal and marriage; idolatry is thus adultery and prostitution. Here we find a specific reference—as we have seen—to the fertility cults and their abuse of eros , but also a description of the relationship of fidelity between Israel and her God. The history of the love-relationship between God and Israel consists, at the deepest level, in the fact that he gives her the Torah , thereby opening Israel's eyes to man's true nature and showing her the path leading to true humanism. And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you We have seen that God's eros for man is also totally agape.
This is not only because it is bestowed in a completely gratuitous manner, without any previous merit, but also because it is love which forgives. Hosea above all shows us that this agape dimension of God's love for man goes far beyond the aspect of gratuity. How can I hand you over, O Israel! My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. God's passionate love for his people—for humanity—is at the same time a forgiving love.
It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice.
Here Christians can see a dim prefigurement of the mystery of the Cross: so great is God's love for man that by becoming man he follows him even into death, and so reconciles justice and love. The philosophical dimension to be noted in this biblical vision, and its importance from the standpoint of the history of religions, lies in the fact that on the one hand we find ourselves before a strictly metaphysical image of God: God is the absolute and ultimate source of all being; but this universal principle of creation—the Logos , primordial reason—is at the same time a lover with all the passion of a true love.
Eros is thus supremely ennobled, yet at the same time it is so purified as to become one with agape. We can thus see how the reception of the Song of Songs in the canon of sacred Scripture was soon explained by the idea that these love songs ultimately describe God's relation to man and man's relation to God.
Thus the Song of Songs became, both in Christian and Jewish literature, a source of mystical knowledge and experience, an expression of the essence of biblical faith: that man can indeed enter into union with God—his primordial aspiration. But this union is no mere fusion, a sinking in the nameless ocean of the Divine; it is a unity which creates love, a unity in which both God and man remain themselves and yet become fully one.
The first novelty of biblical faith consists, as we have seen, in its image of God. The second, essentially connected to this, is found in the image of man. The biblical account of creation speaks of the solitude of Adam, the first man, and God's decision to give him a helper. Of all other creatures, not one is capable of being the helper that man needs, even though he has assigned a name to all the wild beasts and birds and thus made them fully a part of his life.
So God forms woman from the rib of man.
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Here one might detect hints of ideas that are also found, for example, in the myth mentioned by Plato, according to which man was originally spherical, because he was complete in himself and self-sufficient. But as a punishment for pride, he was split in two by Zeus, so that now he longs for his other half, striving with all his being to possess it and thus regain his integrity.
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Two aspects of this are important. The second aspect is equally important. From the standpoint of creation, eros directs man towards marriage, to a bond which is unique and definitive; thus, and only thus, does it fulfil its deepest purpose. Corresponding to the image of a monotheistic God is monogamous marriage. Marriage based on exclusive and definitive love becomes the icon of the relationship between God and his people and vice versa.
God's way of loving becomes the measure of human love. This close connection between eros and marriage in the Bible has practically no equivalent in extra-biblical literature. Though up to now we have been speaking mainly of the Old Testament, nevertheless the profound compenetration of the two Testaments as the one Scripture of the Christian faith has already become evident.
The real novelty of the New Testament lies not so much in new ideas as in the figure of Christ himself, who gives flesh and blood to those concepts—an unprecedented realism. In the Old Testament, the novelty of the Bible did not consist merely in abstract notions but in God's unpredictable and in some sense unprecedented activity. When Jesus speaks in his parables of the shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, of the woman who looks for the lost coin, of the father who goes to meet and embrace his prodigal son, these are no mere words: they constitute an explanation of his very being and activity.
His death on the Cross is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in its most radical form. By contemplating the pierced side of Christ cf. It is there that this truth can be contemplated.
It is from there that our definition of love must begin. In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move.
Jesus gave this act of oblation an enduring presence through his institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. He anticipated his death and resurrection by giving his disciples, in the bread and wine, his very self, his body and blood as the new manna cf. The ancient world had dimly perceived that man's real food—what truly nourishes him as man—is ultimately the Logos , eternal wisdom: this same Logos now truly becomes food for us—as love.
The Eucharist draws us into Jesus' act of self-oblation. More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos , we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving. The imagery of marriage between God and Israel is now realized in a way previously inconceivable: it had meant standing in God's presence, but now it becomes union with God through sharing in Jesus' self-gift, sharing in his body and blood.
Union with Christ is also union with all those to whom he gives himself. I cannot possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with all those who have become, or who will become, his own. Communion draws me out of myself towards him, and thus also towards unity with all Christians. Love of God and love of neighbour are now truly united: God incarnate draws us all to himself.
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We can thus understand how agape also became a term for the Eucharist: there God's own agape comes to us bodily, in order to continue his work in us and through us. Only by keeping in mind this Christological and sacramental basis can we correctly understand Jesus' teaching on love. The transition which he makes from the Law and the Prophets to the twofold commandment of love of God and of neighbour, and his grounding the whole life of faith on this central precept, is not simply a matter of morality—something that could exist apart from and alongside faith in Christ and its sacramental re-actualization.
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Faith, worship and ethos are interwoven as a single reality which takes shape in our encounter with God's agape. Here the usual contraposition between worship and ethics simply falls apart. A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented.
This principle is the starting-point for understanding the great parables of Jesus. The rich man cf. Lk begs from his place of torment that his brothers be informed about what happens to those who simply ignore the poor man in need. Jesus takes up this cry for help as a warning to help us return to the right path.