It is no wonder, therefore, that our predecessors have constantly defended this most approved form of devotion— the pious devotion of the faithful toward the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus [and] the custom of receiving Holy Communion on the first Friday of every month at the desire of Christ Jesus, a custom which now prevails everywhere.—Pope Pius XI Miserentissimus Redemptor
In 1673, a French Visitation nun named Margaret Mary Alacoque had visions of Jesus. Jesus asked the Church to honour His Most Sacred Heart. In particular, Jesus asked the faithful to “receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months”.
The request was connected to a specific promise made to all who venerated and promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart. After Margaret Mary’s death, the First Friday practice steadily spread in the Church. It greatly increased in popularity when Margaret Mary was canonised a saint in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.
Today, Pope Francis is once again asking that the practice of First Friday be carried out by the faithful for a very important reason, to uproot the culture of abuse that has engulfed the Church.
“Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit,” the Pope said, recalling that “everyone of the baptised should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need”. This requires a “personal and communal conversion” which can only be done through “a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting”.
Pope Francis’ invitation aims to awaken “our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says ‘never again’ to every form of abuse” (Letter to the People of God, August 20, 2018.)
“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26).
So on this First Friday of February, let us make every effort to attend Holy Mass, fast from food or anything else you enjoy, be reconciled with God and neighbour and sincerely pray for transformation in the Church and an end to clerical and religious abuse.
YOU can make a difference! Let us all do a bit more to honour Pope Francis’ request.
Join the parish near you where there are all night vigils or come join the parishioners at St Theresa’s RC Church, Woodbrook, as they keep vigil starting with Mass at 6 p.m. on Friday, February 1 and ending with Mass at 6 a.m. on Saturday, February 2 —The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
First Friday Committee
Please include in your intercessions for the weekend of February 2 and 3:
For the victims of abuse at the hands of some members of the clergy and religious throughout the world, that they may find healing, support, and peace within the Catholic community, we pray to the Lord…
Prayer or Song to the Holy Spirit
Repentance Psalm – Psalm 51
Praise and Worship
Prayer of Reparation
For crimes of abuse committed by clergy
God and Father of Mercy,
We your people come before you today in deep humility,
Aware of our own sins and asking your forgiveness.
Lord, we trust you to take care of us.
Time after time, you have rescued your people from the power of their enemies,
You have renewed your covenant when your own people have broken it,
And you have healed the wounds which sin and unfaithfulness have unleashed on your sons and daughters.
Father, today we come before you invoking your mercy,
And offering you our prayers and sacrifices of reparation
For the scandalous crimes that have been committed
By some of those appointed to proclaim your Word and lead your Church.
Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
We pray for the victims of these crimes, both known and unknown.
Protect them with your mighty hand,
Heal them with the soothing balm of your Spirit,
And console them with the loving presence of our heavenly Mother.
We pray for those who have committed these crimes.
Give them sincere repentance
And the humility to accept the consequences of their actions.
We pray for those responsible for correcting the abuses that have occurred.
Give them wisdom, a desire for authentic reform, and courage to carry it out.
We pray for those who have been scandalised by these crimes.
As your Son Jesus calmed the winds and waves,
Let Him speak His Word again to calm the confusion and concern in their souls.
Renew the faith of us all—
A faith which acknowledges that you have appointed shepherds to lead us
And a faith that likewise acknowledges that we have only one Master, the Christ,
And all of us are brothers and sisters.
Father, at the beginning of time,
Your Spirit hovered over the darkness and chaos,
And brought about light and life, order and beauty.
After the chaos of Good Friday and the darkness of Holy Saturday,
Your Spirit again breathed on the apostles,
And brought about a new wave of grace for the world.
Send that Spirit now
Upon our souls, upon our Church, and upon our world.
Keep our eyes fixed on you,
And renew our commitment to follow your Son,
In holiness of life,
And with the joy and peace that come only from you,
And that nobody can take away from us.
We pray with humility and with confidence,
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
by Fr Frank Pavone, www.PrayerCampaign.org
Litany of Thanksgiving
SONG Make me a channel of your peace