The church has sometimes been criticized for adopting a “fortress mentality” in relation to the world and is, thereby, thought to undermine its positive influence and role in the world. Monastic enclosure sometimes receives a similar critique by those who believe that monks and nuns should be out evangelizing rather than taking refuge behind monastery walls. So too, certain persons are described as having closed minds impervious to new or different perspectives. To the degree that any of these assertions is true, those concerned can learn a lesson from this morning’s excerpt from Isaiah according to which a strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us. Open the gates to let in a nation that is just. In these few words we are cautioned against a “fortress mentality” on the one hand, and a complete uncritical openness to what seeks entrance from outside, on the other—be these in terms of the church, the monastic enclosure, or the human mind and heart. Instead, we are urged to practice vigilance and untiring discernment that will enable us to guard against all that would harm us, spiritually, while not closing ourselves to what is beneficial. In the imagery of Isaiah, it’s about setting up walls and ramparts to protect us, while always knowing when to open the gates that what is righteous and just may enter and bless us—a desirable but challenging task!