Monday, December 31, 2007

First Fridays and First Saturdays

A recomended New Year's Resolutions to all our readers!

The Nine First Friday and the Five First Saturday Devotions

Those involved in any form of Catholic Action, will be only too aware of the growing threats facing many of us who wish to remain faithful to traditional Catholic teaching and practice. Efficacious prayer is needed to accompany the action that all Catholics, by virtue of their baptism, are called to take in order to defend and promote our glorious Faith. Our Blessed Lord, in revelations to St Margaret Mary Alacoque at Paray-le-Monial in France, and Our Blessed Lady, in revelations to Blessed Jacinta, Blessed Francisco and Sr. Lucia at Fatima in Portugal, have given us the most efficacious means to overcome these threats, save our souls and win other souls for Christ - namely, the devotions of the Nine First Fridays in reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Five First Saturdays in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Sadly, even among traditional Catholics the prominence that should be given to these crucial devotions appears to be dwindling. This article is a plea to all Catholics to either start these devotions anew, or take them up again, and if at all possible, to practice them continuously.

The Nine First Fridays
Our Blessed Lord appeared to St Margaret Mary on many occasions. Four apparitions, known as the "Great Revelations" took place between 1673 and 1675. During these revelations, Our Blessed Lord requested the following:-
  • The institution of a Holy Hour in memory of His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (St Margaret Mary was asked to do this from 11pm to midnight on Thursday nights; a practice we could imitate).
  • A Communion of Reparation to be received on the First Friday of each month.
  • A Feast in honour of His Sacred Heart, to be kept on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi.
  • Consecration to His Sacred Heart.
Our Blessed Lord gave twelve promises to St Margaret Mary for souls who would practice devotion to His Sacred Heart:-
  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their homes.
  3. I will console them in all their afflictions.
  4. I will be their secure refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.
  5. I shall bestow abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and ocean of infinite mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall rise rapidly to a high degree of perfection.
  9. I will bless every place where an image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honoured.
  10. I will give to priests the power to touch the hardest 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 to all those who receive Communion on the First Friday of every month, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance, and that they shall not die without receiving the Sacraments, and that My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in that last moment.
A concrete way in which to practise this devotion, can be found in the book "The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus" by Fr John Croiset SJ (TAN books ISBN 0-89555-334-1). The sleeve notes from the book state the following:- "Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not "just another book on the Sacred Heart devotion", but it can be truly said to be the book on this devotion. Written by the spiritual director of St Margaret Mary (1647-1690), the book comes from the pen of a man intimately familiar with every aspect of the revelations given by Our Lord to this famous saint; thus, the book is actually the "key" to understanding the importance and the centrality of the Sacred Heart devotion for our lives as true Catholics . . . Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was actually commissioned by Our Lord Himself through St Margaret Mary, and as the author neared completion of it, the Saint told him that Our Lord said it was so completely in accord with His wishes that it would never be necessary to make any change in it. Later she revealed to Fr Croiset that it was Our Lord Himself who had inspired him with the ideas in this book and that it was so pleasing to Him that "none other but Himself could have arranged everything so much to His wishes".

The First Five Saturdays
The following is taken from Sister Lucia's memoirs (she is writing in the third person). The events took place at her convent in Pontevedra, Spain:-
"On December 10th 1925 the Most Holy Virgin appeared to her (Sr Lucia) and by Her side, elevated on a luminous cloud, was a child. The Most Holy Virgin rested Her hand on her (Sr Lucia's) shoulder, and as She did so, She showed her a heart encircled with thorns, which She was holding in Her other hand. At the same time, the Child said; "Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no-one to make an act of reparation to remove them." Then the Most Holy Virgin said; Look, My Daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me, and announce that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for 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 fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me."
A couple of years later, on November 1st 1927, Sr Lucia wrote a letter to Dona Maria Filomena Morais de Miranda, highlighting the importance of the First Saturday devotion and clarifying a couple of points. Here are some excerpts from that letter:-
"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. This confession can be made a few days earlier, and if in this previous confession you have forgotten the intention (of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary) one can offer the following confession for this intention, provided that on the first Saturday one receives Holy Communion in the state of grace, with the intention of repairing for offenses 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 of being loved . . . . and that in exchange for this love They might be able to save many souls . . ." (emphases mine).

Sister Lucia was asked by her confessor, Father Gonçalves, why Our Lady had asked for five First Saturdays, and not any other number. It was Sr Lucia's habit to make a holy hour from eleven in the evening to midnight, especially on Thursday evenings, according to the requests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Paray-le-Monial. On the night of May 29-30, 1930, she put Fr Gonçalves' question to Our Blessed Lord and received the following answer:-

"My daughter, the reason is simple. There are five types of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

  1. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception.
  2. Blasphemies against Her Perpetual Virginity.
  3. Blasphemies against Her Divine Maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognize Her as the Mother of men.
  4. The blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children indifference or scorn, or even hatred of this Immaculate Mother.
  5. The offenses of those who outrage Her directly in Her holy images.

An excellent little booklet giving more information about Fatima and the First Saturdays is “The Rosary and the Crisis of Faith – Fatima and World Peace” by Msgr Joseph Cirrincione and Thomas A Nelson (TAN books ISBN 0-89555-306-6)

See here for more on Devotion to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for this beautiful post..God bless you all in your important work..Happy New Year..

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen