ALMIGHTY God, who shewest to them that be in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; grant unto all them that are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s religion, that they may eschew those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
A reading from Gilbert of Hoyland, Sermons on the Song of Songs
Why does Jesus need a door? He says in the Gospel, ‘I am the door’! (Jn 10:7). Here is a surprising paradox. He is the door and he knocks at the door. He wishes to enter, but through him ‘whoever enters will be saved and find pasture’ (Jn 10:9). There is a great difference between one door and another. For there is a door of one kind in the evidence of nature; there is another door in the sacraments of the Church; there is a third door in the experiences of grace.
At the first door, by the guidance of natural reason, wisdom acting through its works makes itself known to us; we gain access to some share of truth; we gather some knowledge of the Godhead, not however of the distinction of Persons in the Godhead. At this door the distinction of Persons is not made nor is grace conferred. Therefore at this door one should not delay forever or knock too long.
Through the second door, by our initiation into the saving sacraments, we enter the unity of the Church and the Communion of Saints. At this door some so stand inside as to be half outside, until they approach the third door, which we interpret as a familiar access through the affection of charity to some enjoyment and contemplation of the Beloved. This door, so secret, so intimate, does not lie open to all but is reserved for the bride alone…
However, it makes little difference, I suppose, whether you visit him or her visits you, except that you then seem to visit him, when you take the first step and are the first to call upon him. But he visits you, when he takes the lead, knocks at your affections, slips in unexpected, and, when you have no such visit in mind, moves you with a touch of delicacy beyond your hopes.
When he knocks in this way at your door, do not delay. Arise, hasten, let perhaps he turn away. For this happens even in our verse; ‘I opened the bolt of my door to my beloved, but he had turned away and gone’ (Song 5:6). Why go off, good Jesus? Why turn away? Why cheat the beloved of her desire? Do you prompt her desire and withdraw her delight? Or perhaps, in this way, do you draw out her yearnings to greater keenness and warmer desire by withdrawing your presence? It is so. It is obviously so. All the disappointments of love add more fuel to love itself, and all the deceptive wiles raise love to its peak.