As A New Year Begins So Does Chance To Start 2006 With 'First Friday' Devotions
By Susan Tassone
Once, while St. Margaret Mary was praying before the exposed Blessed Sacrament, she saw a vision of Jesus in glory, with His five wounds shining like suns. He then showed her His Heart on fire with love for mankind, a love that, unfortunately, too often, has been ignored or treated with contempt.
According to St. Margaret, whose revelations inspired the Sacred Heart devotion, the Lord asked her to make up for this coldness and ingratitude by receiving Holy Communion as often as she was allowed, and particularly on the First Friday of each month.
This idea of making reparation for the sins of others is also prominent in the messages given by Mary to the children at Fatima in 1917.
As a new year begins, perhaps we can make the resolution to honor both First Friday promises and also First Saturdays.
The “Great Promise” associated with this devotion applied to those who went to Communion on nine consecutive Fridays: “I promise you, 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 Divine Heart becoming their assured refuge at that hour,” said the Lord.
An analysis of this promise was done by Father Gnarocas, author of Seemingly Impossible...But True! The Nine First Fridays. As this good scholar points out, “I promise you” is telling us Jesus wants to make us understand that -- dealing with such an extraordinary grace -- He intends to commit His Divine Word on which we can put our surest trust.
The Lord adds “in the excessive mercy of My Heart,” points out Gnarocas, in order to reflect to us a promise so huge as to nearly exhaust the treasury of mercy.
Jesus explains His promise with the words: They will not die in My disgrace, nor without having received the Holy Sacraments, and in those last moments My Heart will be a safe refuge for them.
The question is asked: Will whoever shall have made well the nine First Fridays be certain of not dying without first having confessed and received Holy Viaticum and the Anointing of the Sick?
The answer is: Whoever, at the moment of death, is already in the grace of God, per se, has no need of the Sacraments to be eternally saved.
On the other hand, whoever is in mortal sin ordinarily needs to regain God’s sanctifying grace through at least the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In case of the impossibility of confessing, or even in case of sudden death, before the soul is separated from the body, God can supply for the lack of reception of the Sacraments with interior graces and inspirations which could induce the dying person to make an act of perfect contrition that would allow it to regain sanctifying grace and be saved eternally.
What the Sacred Heart does promise in an absolute way and without restrictions is that whoever has made well the Nine First Fridays will not die in mortal sin because he will be given the grace of forgiveness by means of Confession or by means of perfect sorrowful contrition, if he is a sinner. And if he is in the state of grace and just he will be given the grace of final perseverance.
Let's put it another way: if we have the devotion, His amiable Heart will serve for all as a safe refuge in that extreme hour without exception.
Jesus will be in the extreme hours of our death our safe, inviolable refuge against the devil -- and death in God’s Will be a consoling triumph of the excessive infinite mercy and omnipotent love of this Divine Heart.
If we are unable to make the Nine First Fridays, Our dear Holy Mother Mary has given us a shortcut through her First Five Saturdays.
On December 10, 1925, Our Blessed Mother appeared with the Christ Child to Sister Lucia and said, “Look, my daughter, at My Heart encircled with thorns, with which ungrateful men wound it every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. Give me consolation, you, at least; and announce for me that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all who on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, confess, receive holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to me.”
You have read it correctly! Our Lady herself assures that those who make this devotion will receive the graces necessary for salvation from her at the moment of their death!
[Susan Tassone is the author of books on purgatory]
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