You may or may not be familiar with the Devotions on the Firsts. I know I wasn't... until my encounter with the Holy Trinity during my summer pilgrimages, when with all my body, mind and soul, I offered myself, sinner though I am, to the Will of God, begging His refuge; and to my wondrous surprise (understatement!), my empty heart was set alight with His love. It made me thirst to learn more about, and proclaim the Gospel truth, and become his servant in thought, word and deed, as well as becoming an everlasting witness to my faith, which I am to actively and publicly communicate. Through the Holy Spirit, God graciously planted in me a deep and growing desire for three things. I wish not to describe all these three things in this post - as it is not yet time for me to share with you my encounters during my pilgrimages. But I can tell you that the third one was a request for penance, reparation and a deeper devotion to our Heavenly Father through prayer, for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, which by my lowly self, am not worthy of, yet need beyond the bounds of my own human capacity.
I thought the only way I would be able to offer this penance and reparation was by concentrating harder during my standard daily prayers, the Rosary, etc., but I realise now, that those who intercede on our behalf want more than this. By God's will, I stumbled across a beautiful book in which the Blessed Virgin Mary explicitly promised to assist all those at the hour of death if we make reparation to her Immaculate Heart. More recently, I discovered the devotion which the Sacred Heart of Jesus requests on the First Friday of every month, for nine months. So here, I share with you what I have discovered about these things; what they are, and why we are called to do them. I would love to invite you to share my spiritual journey, as a young Catholic discovering more about the depths of God's love and my desire to live a life of holiness.
Today is an ultra special day. It is not only the first day of the month dedicated to The Most Holy Rosary, which means that like last year, I strive to pray my rosary whenever I can - but at least once a day. It is also the First Friday of the month...
First Friday Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The First Friday Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is based on a promise made by our Lord Jesus Chirst during an Apparition to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. This promise was implicitely approved by the Church in the 1920 canonization of St. Margaret Mary.
The 12 Promises are contained in a letter written in May, 1688, by St. Margaret Mary to Mother Saumaise:
"On a Friday during Holy Communion, [Our Lord] said these words [...], 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 the month consecutively, 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."The Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. 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 pour abundant blessings 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 effaced."
12. "The all-powerful love of my heart 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 in their last hour."
The following First Friday devotions are advantageous in honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus:
- - The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
- - Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
- - Act of Reparation
- - The Litany To The Sacred Heart of Jesus
I want so badly to please our Lord Jesus Christ, and I'm inviting you to do the same alongside me - from wherever in the world you are. Over the next 9 months, I will share more with you real-life experiences relating to the 12 promises, and how this devotion is sure to change my life. Perhaps I could even help you with finding that 'picture of My Heart', or give you examples of how peace in my own family home has come as a result of my outpouring of this devotion. For any young Catholics in the London area, I'll be heading to the 19:00 First Friday Mass at the parish of Our Lady of Fatima in White City.
Tomorrow is also an ultra special day. It is the first Saturday of the month of The Most Holy Rosary - a month of Our Lady.
Devotion of the Five First Saturdays to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
On July 13th 1917, Our Lady of Fatima, after showing the three Fatima seers a vision of hell, she said
"You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my immaculate heart... I shall come to ask for... the Communion of reparation on the First Five Saturdays."
On December 10, 1925, Our Lady said to Sister Lucia (who was then one of the three children)
"Look, my daughter, at my heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful [Children of God] pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me with your prayers and sacrifices. I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for their salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me."
Why Five Saturdays?
Five first Saturdays of reparation were requested to atone for the five ways in which people offend the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
1. attacks upon Mary's Immaculate Conception
2. attacks against her Perpetual Virginity
3. attacks upon her Divine Maternity and the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all mankind
4. for those who try to publicly implant in children's hearts indifference, contempt and even hatred of this Immaculate Mother
5. for those who insult her directly in her sacred images.
Letter of Sister Lucia explaining this devotion:
1 November, 1927, letter to Doña Maria de Miranda, her godmother, Sister Lucia wrote:
"I don't know if you already know about the reparatory devotion of the five Saturdays to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. As it is still recent, I would like to inspire you to practice it, because it is requested by Our dear Heavenly Mother and Jesus has manifested a desire that it be practiced. Also, it seems to me that you would be fortunate, dear godmother, not only to know it and to give Jesus the consolation of practicing it, but also to make it known and embraced by many other persons.
"It consists in this: During five months on the first Saturday, to receive Jesus in Communion, recite a Rosary, keep Our Lady company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, and make a confession. The confession can be made a few days earlier, and if in this previous confession you have forgotten the (required) intention the following intention can be offered, provided that on the first Saturday one receives Holy Communion in a state of grace, with the intention of repairing for offences against the Most Holy Virgin and which afflict Her Immaculate Heart.
"It seems to me, my dear godmother, that we are fortunate to be able to give Our dear Heavenly Mother this proof of love, for we know that She desires it to be offered to Her. As for myself, I avow that I am never so happy as when first Saturday arrives. Isn't it true that our greatest happiness is to belong entirely to Jesus and Mary and to love Them and Them alone, without reserve? We see this so clearly in the lives of the saints...They were happy because they loved, and we, my dear godmother, we must seek to love as they did, not only to enjoy Jesus, which is the least important -- because if we do not enjoy Him here below, we will enjoy Him up above -- but to give Jesus and Mary the consolation for being loved...and that in exchange for this love they might be able to save many souls."
The following First Saturday devotions are helpful in honoring the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
1. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
2. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
3. Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary*
4. Act of Reparation
5. The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
6. The Sacrament of Reconciliation
*You may use any of the traditional forms or your own words in making the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Everything in Mary leads toward her Son, Jesus the Christ. Everything in Mary lifts up our hearts to praise God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
And so, tomorrow, I intend to celebrate this, by seeking the grace to offer my devotion in the above ways, and to celebrate the life she so willingly brought to this world, by joining the 40 days for life group, who are currently praying and fasting for the conversion of those who work at abortion clinics, and to end abortion in London (and indeed the UK). The power of prayer is wondrous, ladies and gentlemen - for two days ago, the Marie Stopes abortion clinic (where they prayed outside) closed for the day. Imagine the power this set of devotions would have for the conversion of poor sinners, and the reparation of our own sins against the Blessed Virgin Mary's Immaculate Heart!!
A Day of Rest and Social Time!
Although I strongly encourage fervent prayer, I know that I am but a human being, limited to the needs of the human mind and heart too - so I am going to want some social time (Christian socialite that I am)! What better way for me to do this, than with my fellow young Catholics at First Sunday Plus @ The Church Of The Immaculate Conception in Farm Street?! I've never been before, but know a bunch of friends that do go! Promoted in London by the British Jesuits, it's a great opportunity for young Catholics to practice their faith in an Ignatian context. Mass kicks off at 19:15 and we'll be hitting the pub afterwards ^_^
I pray this blogpost may somehow encourage some of you to become active in some form of regular devotion, to contemplate and reflect on the requests of our merciful Jesus and Blessed Virgin Mary, and/or to even meet me at one of my First Fridays and/or First Saturdays over the next 9 or 5 months respectively. I especially ask all readers of this post to say at least one prayer for me in my devotions. ^_^
God bless you!