Let one who eagerly strives for contemplation of celestial things, who sighs for knowledge of divine things, learn to assemble the dispersed Israelites.

Let him endeavor to restrain the wanderings of the mind; let him be accustomed to remain in the innermost part of himself and to forget everything exterior.

Let him make a church, not only of desires but also of thoughts, in order that he may learn to love only true good and to think unceasingly of it alone: “In the churches bless God” (Ps. 67:27).

For in this twofold church, namely of thoughts and of desires, in this twofold concord of efforts and wills, Benjamin is carried away into the height, and the divinely inspired mind is raised to supernal things: “There is Benjamin a youth in ecstasy of mind” (Ps. 67:28).

Where do you think, except “in the churches”?  “In the churches bless God, the Lord of the fountains of Israel.  There is Benjamin a youth in ecstasy of mind” (Ps. 67:27-28).

Nevertheless each one must first make of his thoughts and desires a synagogue rather than a church.

You know well that synagogue means “congregation.”  Church means “convocation.”

It is one thing to drive some things together in one place without the will or against the will; it is another to run together spontaneously by themselves at the nod of the one who commands.

Insensible and brute beings can be congregated but they cannot be convoked.  Yet even a concourse of rational things themselves must occur spontaneously at a nod in order rightly to be called a convocation.

Thus you see how much difference there is between a convocation and a congregation, between church and synagogue.

Therefore if you perceive beforehand that your desires are becoming devoted to exterior delights and that your thoughts are being occupied with them incessantly, then you ought with great care to compel them to go within so that for a while you may at least make of them a synagogue.

As often as we gather the wanderings of the mind into a unity and fix all the impulses of the heart in one desire of eternity, what are we doing other than making a synagogue from that internal household?

But when that throng of our desires and thoughts, after being attracted by a taste of that internal sweetness, has already learned to run together spontaneously at the nod of reason and to remain fixed in the innermost depths, then it can certainly be judged worthy of the name of church.

Therefore let us learn to love only interior goods, let us learn to think often about them only, and without doubt we make churches such as we know that Benjamin loves.

Richard of St Victor (d. 1173): The Twelve Patriarchs, c. 84, translated by Grover A. Zinn, Paulist Press @ Lectionary Central.