The Catholic Church has no lack of devotions. We can choose from dozens of novenas, prayers of thanksgiving and prayers for the intercession of the Blessed Mother or almost any saint. But whether we lack devotion–the whole point of praying the prayers—is another question.
For a long time I bypassed the First Friday devotion. When the first Friday of the month came up–like today–It just seemed like another thing to keep track of when I had enough trouble getting to Mass on time (still do) and making time for prayer.
First Friday devotion, I’ve learned, is about Jesus. He should be the main focus of our love, so a devotion that centers on Him and His Sacred Heart is set apart from other devotions, according to the Sacred Heart Legion. First Friday devotion started in the 1600s when Christ began appearing to a French Visitation nun named Margaret Mary Alacoque.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart
So what exactly is the First Friday devotion? Most simply, it calls for receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist on the First Friday of nine consecutive months in honor of His Sacred Heart. That sounds easy enough, but along with that we should have:
- A true love of Jesus Christ and His Sacred Heart, the source of His excessive mercy, help, graces and blessings.
- Special respect for, and veneration of, the Blessed Sacrament.
- A desire to make Reparation for the neglect, indifference and ingratitude of the majority that results in Jesus Christ being left alone, abandoned and forgotten on our altars, never visited to offer consolation for such neglect, though He has given us the miracle of His Divine Presence in the Blessed Sacrament as a supreme gift to us in His desire to be always with us. (Acts of reparation to pray on First Friday are available to download.)
If necessary to receive communion in a state of grace on First Friday (or any day), we should go to confession before Mass.
Many graces available
The Lord offers many graces to those who have devotion to His Sacred Heart. As Pope Pius XII wrote in his encyclical Haurietis Aquas, (On Devotion to the Sacred Heart):
It is altogether impossible to enumerate the heavenly gifts which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has poured out on the souls of the faithful, purifying them, offering them heavenly strength, rousing them to the attainment of all virtues.
Among these heavenly gifts, the Lord gave St. Margaret Mary 12 promises for those who are faithful to the First Friday devotion:
1.“I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.”
2. “I will establish peace in their homes.”
3. “I will comfort them in their afflictions.”
4. “I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death.”
5. “I will bestow a large blessing upon all their undertakings.”
6. “Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy.”
7. “Tepid souls shall grow fervent.”
8. “Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.”
9. “I will bless every place where a picture of My Heart shall be set up and honored.”
10. “I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.”
11. “Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.”
12. “I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.”
Evidence the Lord reaches out to us
The point of First Friday devotion is to show real devotion to Jesus and His Sacred Heart but the promises are an added incentive. They are evidence that the Lord is reaching out to us in our busyness and indifference.
Biographer Rt. Rev. Emile Bougaud wrote about this in his “The Life of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque,”
“Every new evidence of coldness on the part of man causes God to descend a degree in order to touch the heart from which He cannot succeed in detaching Himself.”