“First Fridays” are about devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Many saints have promoted devotion to the Lord Jesus’ human heart, as a way to emphasize both that the Son of God shares our very same humanity, and also his love for us. Over the centuries, sometimes an emphasis on the authority and holiness of Jesus has obscured the reality of his compassion and mercy.
In 1671, Margaret Mary Alocoque became a Visitation nun, and very soon after, she began receiving visions of the Lord. Jesus instructed her to begin offering a holy hour – this is where the idea came from! – on Thursday evenings; and to foster devotion to his Sacred Heart especially on First Fridays. He also told her that he wished for an annual feast of the Sacred Heart, which comes on the Friday after Corpus Christi. And Jesus told Saint Margaret Mary twelve promises for those who would observe nine First Fridays:
1. I will give them all of the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will establish peace in their homes.
3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
4. I will be their strength during life and above all during 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 you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant all to 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 their sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
The requirements are: Confession, Mass and Holy Communion each First Friday – with confession coming within eight days, before or after.
Five First Saturdays’ devotion was revealed by the Virgin Mary to Sister Lucia Santo, one of the three children who received Mary’s messages at Fatima:
Behold, my daughter, my heart encircled with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. Give me consolation, you, at least; and make known on my behalf that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all who on the First Saturday of five consecutive months confess their sins, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to my Immaculate Heart.
There are four elements of this devotion: first, Confession (up to 8 days before or after); second, reception of Holy Communion on the First Saturday; third, Recitation of the Rosary (5 decades); and fourth, 15 minutes’ silent meditation on one or more of the mysteries. All this is done with intention to make reparation to the heart of Mary. The communion, Rosary and meditation can take place the following Sunday “if a priest, for just cause, grants” that favor.
For more on First Saturday devotions, go here.
—From Saint Remy Bulletin, August 16, AD 2015.