reflections, updates and homilies from Deacon Mike Talbot inspired by the following words from my ordination: Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach...
Thursday, June 3, 2021
First Friday, especially in June, Devotion to the Sacred Heart
The First Friday Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
By Kim Buck
The First Friday – the call of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Our Lord initially spoke very little about the First Friday. In fact, all He said was:
Thou shalt, moreover, communicate on the First Friday of each month.
St. Margaret Mary readily obeyed and began to receive Holy Communion each First Friday.
It was years later, during Holy Mass on the First Friday in May 1688, that she heard these words spoken to her by her Divine Saviour:
I promise you, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that Its all-powerful love will grant all those who communicate on nine consecutive first Fridays of the month the grace of final repentance. They will not die in My disfavour nor without receiving the sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their secure refuge in their last moments.
Unfortunately, there has been much theological dispute regarding this promise of the nine consecutive First Fridays. Objection has been made to the seeming simplicity of the requirements requested by the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in that the “grace of final repentence” will automatically be granted to all those who communicate on these nine consecutive First Fridays. Does this not seem all too easy?
But if we consider the matter in greater depth, we will find that it is not something simplistic and automatic that Our Lord expects here, but rather something more.
It involves receiving Holy Communion worthily. This means to say, being in a state of grace: having confessed and received absolution.
It therefore requires a depth of surrender of heart, a humility and participation in the practise and meaning of the Devotions as a whole.
In order to help us to understand more deeply the development of the First Friday Devotion let us look at the work of Father John Croiset, S.J..
It was he who became St. Margaret Mary’s confessor and Spiritual Advisor, following the death of St. Claude La Columbiere. Like St. Claude, he dedicated his life to the spreading of the Devotion.
In fact, through a request received in a message to St. Margaret Mary, Our Lord asked that Father Croisset write a detailed manual on the new Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
It is this book, The Devotion to the Sacred Heart, that we refer to here. Regarding the First Friday Devotion Father Croiset writes:
The object of this devotion is to make our Saviour Jesus Christ ardently and perfectly loved, and to make reparation for the outrages offered to Him in the past, as well as for those which He daily receives in the Blessed Eucharist.
Sacred Heart window, Co. Tyrone, Ireland
Father Croiset also points out, as I have noticed through my years of practise of this Devotion, that many people begin preparation for the First Friday, on the Thursday preceding it.
On this first Thursday, the Holy Hour is more greatly emphasised and confession is often made, in order to worthily communicate on the First Friday – in a state of grace.
Thus, one may wish to seek out a suitable Priest, who practices the Devotion himself. Such a priest will likely offer a number of beautiful, devotional practices which have become associated with the First Friday over the last centuries.
These include: particular or special confession times prior to Holy Mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, recitation of the Litany of the Sacred Heart. He may even celebrate a votive Mass for the Feast of the Sacred Heart each First Friday. Others may offer exposition throughout the night, into the First Saturday (dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary).
Following Father Croiset’s direction, it is important to spend the First Fridays (as also with the Feast of the Sacred Heart) contemplating the outrages and sacrileges, which have caused Our Lord so much distress.
Yet whilst the Sacred Heart revealed to St. Margaret Mary His suffering on account of our ingratitude, it is we who suffer most at being separated from Our Divine Lord. It is we who remain in sin, when we are not bathed in the Divine love, issuing forth from the Heart of Our Lord and Saviour.
Sacred Heart mural in Paray-le-Monial France
Therefore, whilst Our Lord pleads with us to make amends, through Reparation to Him, we should remember that, whilst clearly pleasing Him, the effects of Communion and Reparation on the First Friday work to bring us back to Him.
They work to bring us back to the source of all life, to the Heart of God, present in the person of Jesus Christ: the Sacred Heart. They work to make amends that will bring us and our fellowmen, back into relationship with our means of salvation; Our loving Friend and God, Jesus Christ.
He is hurting because He has given us everything and we have not acknowledged this. We have in fact, turned our backs on Him. Yet He gave us everything, not for Himself, but for us.
Preparing for the First Friday
To make the First Friday Devotion, let us prepare …
As we prepare ourselves to worthily celebrate this First Friday, let us think of these things. Let us think of how much Our Lord has loved us – so much so that He gave up His life for us. Let us recall how much He has given of Himself in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, to renew us, refresh us and to bring us eternal life and nourishment.
Let us think of something else as well.For in the Third Great Apparition to St Margaret Mary, Our Lord states that this incredible gift of the Eucharist is so often rejected – and even despised – by those grown cold in their hearts. Let us not forget this tragedy.
So how do we behave on this First Friday? Do we need confession, to worthily receive His Body and Blood in Holy Communion?
In what mind do we present ourselves for Holy Mass? How do we acknowledge His coming to us, as the Priest utters the words of consecration and Our Lord becomes present on the altar?
Let us look at how we approach the altar, to receive our Blessed Lord in His Sacrament. And once received, how do we express our gratitude?
The Sacred Heart of Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary, speaking of the ingratitude we men offer Him, in return for His ardent and passionate love for us. We have been ungrateful regarding His Sacred Heart, which is enflamed with passionate love. For it is, as the Litany of the Sacred Heart states, a ‘Burning furnace of Charity’.
As we begin the First Friday Devotions, let us look to the words of the Sacred Heart when He said:
My Divine Heart, is so inflamed with love for men … that, being unable any longer to contain within Itself the flames of Its burning Charity, It must needs spread them abroad … and manifest Itself to them (mankind) in order to enrich them with the precious treasures which I discover to thee, and which contain graces of sanctification and salvation necessary to withdraw them from the abyss of perdition.
Let us not forget these words of burning love for us and worthily receive Holy Communion each First Friday, being fully aware of all that Our Lord is asking of us, in terms of reparation and gratitude. Let us also be aware of the graces that are bestowed upon those who worthily receive Him in Holy Communion. With all this in mind, let us approach each and every First Friday, reverently, gratefully and with love.