Why We Need to Make the First Friday Devotion a Common Catholic Practice Again
Two beautiful devotions I would like to offer you this day are the First Friday Devotion and the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Burke writes of this practice that,
“Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a most effective means of living always in the company of Our Lord Jesus Who we receive in Holy Communion. It consists of an ardent love for Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist with grief at seeing him so little honored, and it includes acts of reparation for the contempt and offenses committed against Him. Our devotion to the Sacred Heart is an extended act of love…”
(Burke, Raymond Cardinal, editor. The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Marian Catechist Apostolate, 2010)
How did this devotion begin?
The devotion is the fruit of a series of visions during which Our Lord Jesus appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. In His visits, Our Lord revealed his consuming love for us and the suffering caused by the coldness and ingratitude with which His love is received. He delivered the message to St. Margaret Mary through the revelation of His Own heart, “Behold this Heart which has so loved men that It spared nothing, even going so far as to exhaust and consume Itself, to prove to them Its love.” (Cardinal Burke, Enthronement). In his visits, Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary with his heart exposed, crowned with thorns, aflame, and topped by His cross. This image which is known by the title of the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been replicated in many ways and is the central icon of the devotion.
Twelve Promises and First Fridays
The First Friday devotion is linked to the last of twelve promises Jesus made to St. Margaret Mary for those who honor the Sacred Heart. The promises are as follows:
(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 all their afflictions.
(4) I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
(5) I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
(6) Sinners will find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
(7) Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
(8) Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
(9) I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed 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.
(12) I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; 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 twelfth promise is perhaps the most well-known of the promises, as Jesus promises to give the gift of final perseverance accompanied by the gift of the sacraments at the time of death. It should be noted that this is not a free ticket to heaven in which one can cease to live a life of faith as long as they have attended nine consecutive First Friday masses. Rather, it is a gift of perseverance, which is the grace to endure trials and suffering even unto death along with the promise of divine assistance in the sacraments.
While the twelfth promise may seize our attention, the first promise demonstrates the universal relevance of the devotion, “I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.” Every soul, whether single, married, or religious can be enriched by this devotion. The Heart of Jesus knows the trials of each state and will provide unique graces which will aid His children in their specific situations.
I also am personally drawn to the second promise, that Jesus will grant us peace in our homes. I think this is especially relevant to the modern world in which our homes are often hectic and overscheduled. We also live in an age filled with domestic abuse and addiction. I personally often struggle to be patient with my children.
Peace has the power to strengthen our relationships, drawing us closer to our children and our spouses. It also helps us bear our sufferings.
The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Closely related to the First Fridays Devotion is the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart. Most closely linked to promise nine, this devotion consists of displaying or “enthroning” an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a prominent place within the home. The image can either be a picture or statue. It should be noted that the Enthronement is more than just hanging a picture. Rather, it is more like the coronation of a king, Jesus the King of our home, and is performed with prayer and planning. Several days are spent in prayer and preparation which culminates with an Enthronement Ceremony that is performed in the home. In this way it is a religious act which invites Jesus’ to be present in a tangible way within our home.
“By the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart we link the tabernacle of our parish church to our home, inviting Our Lord to be our constant and most intimate Companion. The Enthronement is a way of life. It means that Christ is King of our hearts, and that we desire Him to be present with us always. By the Enthronement, we signify our desire to make our hearts and our homes holy, to sanctify our lives in every aspect.” (Burke, Enthronement).
As you can see, the Enthroned image becomes symbolic of Jesus’ residence within our homes. While not the same, it becomes a “type” or “reflection” of the tabernacle signifying that Jesus is present in our homes. We then day by day live in the presence of God.
Our parish priest encouraged our family to perform the Enthronement about a year ago. We can truly attest to the power of this devotion. Our family image is now one of the most meaningful images of Jesus we have in our home.
Moreover, we have taken up the practice of “night adoration” in front of the blessed image. Night adoration is a common practice accompanying the Enthronement. Night adoration consists of making a holy hour (or devoting one hour to prayer) in front of the Enthroned image on the Eve of the First Friday (i.e. Thursday before the first Friday of the month). Just as the Enthroned image is a reflection of the tabernacle, night adoration then emulates the long held custom of performing a holy hour in a church in front of the tabernacle.
In our house, we wait to perform night adoration until our children have been put to bed. We use it as an opportunity for Sara and I to pray together and soak up the silence we so rarely get in the midst of family life. We also offer the time as a sacrifice, as it can also be a struggle to stay alert as we pray into the night. In this way, night adoration also serves as an opportunity to join our sufferings to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
If you are interested in finding out more about the First Friday Devotion or the Enthronement, you can find many resources at enthronements.com. This website has many great resources including daily videos to help you prepare for your own household Enthronement.