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First Friday Devotion

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Mar. 01, 2012

Who’s heard of First Friday?  That must be something new, something made up!  Actually Catholics have been devoted to First Fridays since the end of the 17th Century.  However, in recent decades many Americans have forgotten what First Fridays are all about.

First Fridays are set aside to make special devotion to Jesus in His Sacred Heart.  The practice developed around Jesus’s actual revelation of His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.  The 17th Century in France was a chaotic time—rebellion was brewing and the usually devout nation was witnessing a widespread falling away from the Faith.  The lukewarm state of France was being fueled by (among other things) a heresy called Jansenism.  This heresy portrayed God the Father as wrathful and uncompassionate. 

At a time when people were forgetting who Jesus and His Church were, as well as His loving nature, the Lord decided to appear to St. Margaret Mary.  Having long suffered sickness, ridicule, and difficulty, St. Margaret Mary was diligent at attending Adoration and praying before the Blessed Sacrament.  During these prayerful moments Jesus regularly appeared to St. Margaret Mary for over two years when He revealed something particularly special to her on December 27, 1673.  On this day, He invited her to rest her head on His chest like His beloved disciple St. John.  As she took this action she heard two things: His voice and His heartbeat.
Jesus told St. Margaret Mary that the world was in need—it needed to know the depths of God’s love.  He revealed His profound love by taking her heart and putting it within His own, “returning it with divine love into her breast.”  Henceforth, St. Margaret Mary became the disciple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, revealing to the world the image of a flaming heart pierced by a crown of thorns.  His Sacred Heart was to be honored so that it might remind mankind what it endured out of love, and reveal the power others had to offer themselves for those around them.  Over time, Christ also revealed a series of twelve promises concerning devotion to His Sacred Heart.  The twelfth and final promise was:  

In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

When St. Margaret Mary died, devotion to the Sacred Heart spread quickly.  Within 75 years the Church officially endorsed the practice of First Fridays.  Today the practice continues as many of the Faithful throughout the world attend Mass on the First Friday with the intention of consecrating themselves to the Sacred Heart.  When many find it difficult to attend daily Mass, the First Friday is a notable exception, being heavily attended in throughout the world.  Even in cultures where Holy Communion is not taken daily or frequently, the First Friday, again serves as the exception.  Additionally, Holy Communion is often taken to the sick and homebound on the First Fridays, in particular.
Like St. Margaret Mary, we live in an uncertain era plagued by doubt and skepticism.  Plagued by anxiety and fear, having forgotten not only how to love, but having forgotten the depths of God’s own love for us.  This devotion was revealed by Christ, Himself, to remedy these very problems!  This powerful and effective devotion needs to be resurrected by the young Faithful!  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, pray for us!  Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!