Q. What is the meaning of “First Friday”?
A. The celebration of the First Friday devotion comes from the apparitions of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in France in the 17th century. Jesus told her: “Behold this heart which, not withstanding the burning love for men with which it is consumed and exhausted, meets with no other return from most Christians than sacrilege, contempt, indifference and ingratitude.”
Despite this rejection that is shown to Jesus, He offers those who are devoted to His Sacred Heart a wealth of grace and blessings. He says to St. Margaret Mary: “In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.”
This apparition or appearance of Jesus is an example of a private revelation, which is distinct from public revelation.
Public revelation is all that the Heavenly Father desired to reveal for our salvation in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus communicated his Word to the Apostles and it has been handed on from generation to generation through the successors of the Apostles, the Bishops.
The Deposit of Faith, which contains the entirety of public revelation, has two sources: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. All that is contained in public revelation must be believed by Catholics.
A private revelation may be given to an individual or group of people, but it does not add to or correct anything that God has publicly revealed. A private revelation does not demand acceptance by Catholics. However, private revelations may contribute to a deeper understanding of the faith or exhort apathetic and tepid souls to conversion of heart.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us of the burning love that Jesus has for all souls. When we look at the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are reminded of all that his Sacred Heart endured: scourging, mockery, betrayal, and crucifixion.
In this devotion, Our Lord invites us to return that love to Him, and fidelity to receiving Holy Communion on the first Friday of the month is a means of showing that love. First Friday devotion is a means to stir our hearts to love Him in a greater way. In doing this, Our Lord promises us abundant grace in return. To gain this grace, we must receive Holy Communion on nine consecutive first Fridays, have the intention of honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of reaching final perseverance, and offer each Holy Communion as an act of atonement for offenses against the Blessed Sacrament.
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