As I learn more about my Catholic faith, it's amazing to realize how many special prayers, devotions, etc. that people practice. One that really interests me is the First Friday Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The practice of First Friday dates to the end of the 17th century when St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a vision of Jesus.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart grew when St. Margaret Mary died, but it wasn't until 75 years after her death that the Devotion to the Sacred Heart was officially recognized and approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765.
"On Friday during Holy Communion, He said these words to His unworthy slave, if I mistake not: I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that its all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on nine first Fridays of consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they will not die under my displeasure or without receiving their sacraments, my divine Heart making itself their assured refuge at the last moment."
With regard to this promise it may be remarked: (1) that our Lord required Communion to be received on a particular day chosen by Him; (2) that the nine Fridays must be consecutive; (3) that they must be made in honor of His Sacred Heart, which means that those who make the nine Fridays must practice the devotion and must have a great love for our Lord; (4) that our Lord does not say that those who make the nine Fridays will be dispensed from any of their obligations or from exercising the vigilance necessary to lead a good life and overcome temptation; rather He implicitly promises abundant graces to those who make the nine Fridays to help them to carry out these obligations and persevere to the end; (5) that perseverance in receiving Holy Communion for nine consecutive First Firdays helps the faithful to acquire the habit of frequent Communion, which our Lord eagerly desires; and (6) that the practice of the nine Fridays is very pleasing to our Lord since He promises such great reward, and that all Catholics should endeavor to make the nine Fridays.
Prayer Source: Enthronment of the Sacred Heart by Rev. Francis Larkin, SS.CC., St. Paul Editions, 1978 Link
You can also read what some of the Popes have said about this devotion at www.sacredheartapostolate.com.
The Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as given by Our Lord to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque
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."
I found some great meditations on the Twelve Promises by Father Joseph McDonnell, S.J. reprinted at www.dailycatholic.org.
Our parish priest celebrates an evening First Friday Mass followed by Adoration and Confession. I'm going to challenge myself to make it to mass on First Friday and join in this beautiful devotion. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Pray for Us!