The holy priest would spend 10 days in prayer to invoke the coming of the Holy Spirit into his life.
Jesus’ final instructions to his apostles were to “wait for the promise of the Father” in Jerusalem. They proceeded to spend the next nine days in prayer before celebrating the Jewish feast of Pentecost.
Do you know what the Jews celebrated on Pentecost?
These nine days are typically referred to as the “first novena,” and the Church has maintained a tradition of spending a special time of prayer during these nine days. However, there also grew a separate tradition of beginning this time of prayer on Ascension Thursday, which rounded out the devotion to a total of 10 days.
According to Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, “[St. Josemaria Escriva] often told me that ever since 1926 or 1927 he had practiced the devotion to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity very intensely. Every year he followed the Novena to the Holy Spirit using the book by Francisca Javiera del Valle.”
This book is entitled, About the Holy Spirit and was initially published in Spanish, though it is now available in English through Scepter Publishers.
The St. Josemaria Escriva Institute has also made available online an alternative devotion that uses homilies and prayers of St. Josemaria Escriva for the Ten-Day Devotion. They note that, “The Ten-Day Devotion to the Holy Spirit is a long-standing custom encouraged by the Church that begins ten days before Pentecost on Ascension Thursday, the day that Jesus our Lord ascended into Heaven. This time of preparation is an opportunity to ask the Holy Spirit to help us to know ourselves better, to strengthen our hearts, and to make firm resolutions for our interior lives.”
Even if you are unable to dedicate the time to read or listen to the reflection each day, one option would be to simply recite the following prayer composed by St. Josemaria Escriva, which calls upon the Holy Spirit for inspiration.
Come, O Holy Spirit: enlighten my understanding to know your commands; strengthen my heart against the wiles of the enemy; inflame my will … I have heard your voice, and I don’t want to harden my heart to resisting, by saying “later … tomorrow.” Nunc coepi! Now! Lest there be no tomorrow for me! O, Spirit of truth and wisdom, Spirit of understanding and counsel, Spirit of joy and peace! I want what you want, I want it because you want it, I want it as you want it, I want it when you want it.
Pray a novena to the Holy Spirit and kindle a fire within