It became a habit when he was 11 years old and struggling with his math class.
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In January of 1980, John Paul II told a group from the Charismatic Renewal:
From the time I was little, I learned to pray to the Holy Spirit. When I was 11, I was feeling sad because I was having a lot of trouble with math. My dad showed me in a little book the hymn “Veni Creator Spiritus,” and he told me, “Pray this and you’ll see that He’ll help you to understand.” I’ve been praying this hymn every day for more than 40 years, and I’ve seen how much the Divine Spirit helps us.
Here is a typical English translation of the Latin text
Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.
Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father, Thou
Who dost the tongue with power imbue.
Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o’erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.
Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.
Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.
Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.
And in Latin
Veni Creátor Spíritus,
Mentes tuórum vísita:
Quae tu creásti péctora.
Qui díceris Paráclitus,
Altísimi dónum Dei,
Fons vivus, ignis, cáritas,
Et spiritális únctio.
Tu septifórmis múnere,
Digitus paténae déxterae,
Tu rite promíssum patris,
Sermóne ditans gútera.
Accénde lumen sénsibus,
Infírma nostri córporis
Virtúte fírmans pérpeti.
Hóstem repéllas lóngius,
Pacémque dones prótinus:
Ductóre sic te práevio,
Vitémus omne nóxium.
Per te sciámus da Patrem,
Noscámus atque Fílium
Teque utriúsque Spíritum
Credámus omni témpore.
Deo Patri sit glória,
Et Fílio, que a mórtuis
Surréxit, ac Paráclito,
In saeculórum sáecula.
[This article first appeared in Aleteia’s Spanish edition.]