I sought him whom my soul loves–this is what you are urged to do by the goodness of him who anticipates you, who sought him, and loved you before you loved him. You would not seek him or love him unless you had first been sought and loved. Not only in one blessing have you been forestalled but in two, being loved as well as being sought. For the love is the reason for the search and the search is the fruit of the love and its certain proof. You are loved so that you may not suppose you are sought to be punished. You are sought so that you may not complain you are loved in vain. Both these loving and manifest favors give you courage and drive away your diffidence, persuading you to return and stirring your affections. From this comes the zeal and ardor to seek him whom your soul loves because you cannot seek unless you are sought; and when you are sought you cannot but seek.
The Spirit of the Word is gentle and brings me gentle greetings, speaking to me persuasively of the zeal and desire of the Word, which cannot be hidden from him. He searches the deep things of God and knows his thoughts–thoughts of peace and not vengeance. How can I fail to be inspired to seek him, when I have experienced his mercy and been assured of his peace?
from Sermon 84, On the Song of Songs by Bernard of Clairvaux (CF 40, pp191-2, 193)