Once you have had the experience of God’s benevolence, you need no longer feel abashed in aspiring to a holier intimacy. Growth in grace brings expansion of confidence. You will love with greater ardor, and knock on the door with greater assurance, in order to gain what you perceive to be still wanting to you. ‘The one who knocks will always have the door opened to him’. It is my belief that to a person so disposed, God will not refuse that most intimate kiss of all, a mystery of supreme generosity and ineffable sweetness.
Bernard of Clairvaux
from On the Song of Songs 3.5; quoted in In the School of Love, Edith Scholl, ed., p. 154-155.
When he came to me, he never made known his coming by any signs, not by sight, not by sound, not by touch. It was not by any movement of his that I recognized his coming; it was not by any of my senses that I perceived he had penetrated to the depths of my being. Only by the movement of my heart did I perceive his presence; and I knew the power of his might because my faults were put to flight and my human yearnings brought into subjection. I have marveled at the depth of his wisdom when my secret faults have been revealed and made visible; at the very slightest amendment of my way of life I have experienced his goodness and mercy; in the renewal and remaking of the spirit of my mind, that is of my inmost being, I have perceived the excellence of his glorious beauty, and when I contemplate all these things I am filled with awe and wonder at his manifold greatness.
–Bernard of Clairvaux
On the Song of Songs 40:91-92, excerpted in In the School of Love: An Anthology of Early Cistercian Texts, selected and annotated by Edith Scholl, OCSO.
You ask then how I knew God was present, when his ways can in no way be traced? He is life and power, and as soon as he enters in, he awakens my slumbering soul; he stirs and soothes and pierces my heart, for before it was hard as stone, and diseased. So he has begun to pluck out and destroy, to build up and to plant, to water dry places and illuminate dark ones; to open what was closed and to warm what was cold; to make the crooked straight and the rough places smooth, so that my soul may bless the Lord, and all that is with me may praise his holy name.
–Bernard of Clairvaux
On the Song of Songs 74:6, from In the School of Love: An Anthology of Early Cistercian Texts, selected and annotated by Edith Scholl, OCSO.