open the gates

Dec 1, 2022

Open the gates!
Let the upright… come in,
Isaiah 26


All of these beautiful church doors have one thing in common.

They are closed.

Ok, I accept that the photographer appreciates the beauty of the doors themselves, and if the doors were open they wouldn’t be as easily seen in the pics.

While these closed doors are beautiful, open doors, as open gates, indicate an invitation to enter, which is why the cry to OPEN that all may enter features in today’s first reading.

A couple of months ago Pope Francis wrote a letter on Liturgy (at this link) in which he makes significant mention of Romano Guardini (1885-1961) much of whose writing has become inspiring spiritual classic including his (available here as pdf) work entitled Sacred Signs.

Here’s a bit from the The Doors section of Guardini’s little book:

“A church is a similitude [ie similar to or reminder] of the heavenly dwelling place of God. Mountains indeed are higher, the wide blue sky outside stretches immeasurably further. But whereas outside space is unconfined and formless, the portion of space set aside for the church has been formed, fashioned, designed at every point with God in view. The long pillared aisles, the width and solidity of the walls, the high arched and vaulted roof, bring home to us that this is God’s house and the seat of his hidden presence. It is the doors that admit us to this mysterious place. Lay aside, they say, all that cramps and narrows, all that sinks the mind. Open your heart, lift up your eyes. Let your soul be free, for this is God’s temple.

“It is likewise the representation of you, yourself. For you, your soul and your body, are the living temple of God. Open up that temple, make it spacious, give it height.

“Heed the cry of the doors. Of small use to you is a house of wood and stone unless you yourself are God’s living dwelling. The high arched gates may be lifted up, and the portals parted wide, but unless the doors of your heart are open, how can the King of Glory enter in?

I like that!


Each one of us is God’s living dwelling, God’s temple. Open up that temple, make it spacious, portals parted wide, inviting and welcoming. Give it height that those who walk upright may enter and feel at home.



  1. Thank you so much Fr John for this reflection and especially for the link to the Sacred Signs which I have quickly peruse and will reflect upon later today.
    Blessings as we enter into this season of longing and expectation

  2. Do we remember the ‘game’ done with our hands glasped and shaped like a steeple:
    “This is the church
    And this is the steeple;
    Open the doors
    And here are the people”!

    • This beautiful imagery of the high vaulted church roof where our souls can rise up and be free moving to our body being a temple of the Holy Spirit where we can open ourselves so that those we encounter can walk upright in our company and feel at home is very graphic and impacting. Thank you for your inspired imagery.

  3. Yes I’m thoroughly nourished while being inside that church, yet I’m also learning through evangelisation, that I need to walk out of those doors/gates to search for those who haven’t come in!

  4. Love this a lot!

    • Thank you for another releasing/energising piece, and for the links … a very fulfilling Advent so far!

  5. Beautiful.
    I feel the same about the doors in my own home. Keeping them open. They too are the way to God, through my listening and silence.

  6. All the closed Church doors. “I stand at the door and knock.”
    And to feel and receive God we do have to open our Heart to God. God has to become our Number one in our life and we have to learn to really love God.

  7. Reminded me of my favourite door in the painting “The light of the world” by William Holman Hunt.

  8. This reminds me of the Lenten gift on the site earlier this year, of A.S.K – Ask, Seek, Knock. Gratias John.


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