You may hear “old-timer” Catholics and a few pious younger ones refer to the first Friday and the first Saturday of any given month as a special day. But why?
To the untrained Catholic, it seems the only thing to celebrate on the first Friday of the month is the fact that it's the last day of the work week. Hooray, TGIF! And, the only reason to celebrate the first Saturday of the month is that it's the first day of the month a person can sleep in and watch morning cartoons. But, thanks be to God alive in our Catholic faith there are more profound reasons to celebrate these spiritually advantageous days.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is remembered on Friday, the day His Heart was pierced for love of us on the cross. Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 1600’s and told her “Behold My Heart, which has loved everyone so intensely, yet is loved so little in return.”
Jesus went on to ask St. Margaret if she would teach the world devotion to His Sacred Heart. St. Margaret related that Jesus desired faithful souls to come nine consecutive first Fridays to confession, to Holy Mass, to devoutly receive the Holy Eucharist and spend time consoling the Sacred Heart of Jesus by staying with Him in the church in adoration.
To the soul who observed the nine months Jesus made 12 promises. 1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life. 2. I will give peace in their families. 3. I will console them in all their troubles. 4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of death. 5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings. 6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy. 7. Tepid souls shall become fervent. 8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection. 9. I will bless the homes in which the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored. 10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts. 11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their name written in My Heart, and it shall never be effaced. 12. I promise thee in the excess of the mercy of My Heart, that its all-powerful love will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the first Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.
Wow! All that for simply coming to Church on the first Friday for nine months for love of Jesus’ Heart? Yes! Believe it!
Because the Sacred Heart of Jesus is so intimately united to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, devotion to Her Heart is observed the very next day, Saturday. When the Blessed Mother appeared to the three shepherd children at Fatima in 1917, she spoke about the offenses against the Heart of her Son and how devotion to her own heart would bring about needed reparation.
She asked that the faithful to make these acts of reparation on the first Saturday of each month for five consecutive months by attending Holy Mass and devoutly praying the holy rosary. The faithful should offer their prayers of reparation for the following intentions: week 1) Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception; week 2) Blasphemies against the Blessed Mother’s Virginity; week 3) Blasphemies against Mary’s Divine Motherhood and her motherhood over all humanity; week 4) Blasphemies by those who implant in the hearts of children indifference, contempt and hate against the Virgin Mary; and in week 5) Blasphemies by those who insult Mary directly in her images.
Lent is upon us and so now is the time to try getting up early on the first Friday before work and shutting off the cartoons a little earlier on the first Saturday to grow in devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It will change your life and the life of your entire family. Great graces await you. Before you know it, you may become a pious “old-timer” Catholic, too!
Fr. Gardner is pastor of St. Peter in Fort Yates and the Catholic Indian Mission, as well as the satellite parishes in Cannon Ball, Porcupine, Selfridge and Solen.
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