There are different stages that you must necessarily take in order to reach the knowledge of God. The book of Proverbs explains what they are. First you must be attentive, so that you can listen. But what is required is not only a sensible attention, that we can name concentration, but first the attention of the heart. We often hear people say that they have difficulties in praying because of a lack of concentration. Well, I guess that this is a false pretext because concentration is not necessary to approach God. You might need your concentration to study, to realize a difficult technical work or to win a football game, but you definitively do not need it to speak or to listen to God. What you need is to turn your heart to God, which is not concentration, but attention of your heart. It is different and it even gives the possibility to concentrate on something else while your heart is with God.
For example, when you drive, it is better to not be concentrated on God, but on the road and the directions. Otherwise I am afraid that your piety which would not be sustained by the virtue of prudence would be the cause of an accident. A piety without prudence would be a false piety, which could bring spiritual or material damages. So when you drive your car or conduct your own life, be concentrated on the proper object in order to avoid accidents, material or spiritual. Do what you have to do, and do it well. And you can always keep the attention of your heart with God, whatever you do. The 2nd chapter of the book of Proverbs says: That thy ear may hearken to wisdom: incline thy heart to know prudence.
If you pass this first stage of the attentive prudence, then you may reach the second stage, which is another step toward the acquisition of the knowledge of God. This second stage is the fear of the Lord. For if thou shalt call for wisdom, and incline thy heart to prudence: If thou shalt seek her as money, and shalt dig for her as for a treasure, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord. (Prov.2:3-5) Let us understand well: we have to desire wisdom as earthly people desire money. It is a quest for wisdom and a quest means that we have to take the means to obtain it and make the necessary effort.
Where can we find wisdom? Where can we be sure to find it unerringly? It is to the Incarnate Wisdom that we have to go. The Eternal Wisdom has a name: Jesus Christ! Saint Louis de Montfort says that nothing is more consoling than to know divine Wisdom, and after having given the reasons, he adds that the knowledge of eternal Wisdom is also the most useful and the most necessary since eternal life consists in knowing God and Jesus Christ, his Son. Eternal life is knowing God, and we can begin to know Him now, and consequently already anticipate eternity during this life.
The time of Christmas is a beautiful invitation to turn to the Eternal Wisdom that we can contemplate, since it is now visible through the person of Jesus Christ. I said in the beginning that we cannot apprehend the fullness of the mystery of the Incarnation in one instant. So, the Church comes to help us and offers us a whole week which is like one day which develops throughout the week. The Octave of Christmas allows us to take a spiritual break and to focus on the mystery of the birth of Jesus.
For us, who are supposed to desire wisdom as a treasure, what an opportunity! We just have to turn to Jesus and to contemplate him. We do not need our concentration but rather our imagination. Let it fly toward the manger of Bethlehem and let us offer the attention of our hearts to the Baby Jesus. Simplicity and tranquility are the doors of contemplation. It is not difficult, it is not demanding. But you still have to make the effort to give a good part of your time for this spiritual activity that we call mental prayer or meditation. And you have to do it every day. I said you have to, but it is not the case. We should not have to take time to pray and to meditate. It rather should be a ‘natural’ consequence of our love for God, even though it involves supernatural acts of faith and of charity.
But if our charity is not yet burning, at least our daily meditation will kindle it more and more. Saint Francis de Sales explains that it puts our intelligence in the clearness and the divine light and exposes our will to the celestial love. I think that the beautiful Introit of the Mass depicts very well the canvas of our meditation. It is precisely taken from the book of wisdom. When a profound stillness compassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent, Your all-powerful Word, O Lord, bounded from heaven’s royal throne. It is really in the silence of our souls that we can hear the Word of God.
May Our Lady help us to silence. Then the light of God will shine in the nights of our earthly lives. We will just have to follow it toward eternity.