THE NINE FIRST FRIDAYS DEVOTION TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
This devotion is based upon one of the twelve promises made by Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary: “I promise thee, in the excess of the mercy of My Heart, that Its 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 penitence, and that they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving the Sacraments, and My Heart shall be their secure refuge at that last hour.”
THE TWELVE PROMISES OF THE SACRED HEART
1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will establish peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their afflictions.
4. I will be their assured refuge in life, and more especially at death.
5. I will pour out abundant benedictions on all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall advance rapidly to great perfection.
9. I will bless the house in which the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the gift of moving the most hardened hearts.
11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names inscribed in My Heart, never to be effaced from It.
12. I promise thee, in the excess of the mercy of My Heart, that Its 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 penitence, and that they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving the Sacraments, and My Heart shall be their secure refuge at that last hour.
ACT OF REPARATION TO THE SACRED HEART
Adorable Heart of Jesus, consumed with love for men and thirsting for their salvation, Heart so loving yet so little loved, deign to accept this act of reparation that we eagerly offer to make amends to Thee for the outrages, the irreverences and profanations which Thou dost receive in the adorable Sacrament of the Altar. Pardon, O most Sacred Heart, the forgetfulness and ingratitude of men, the abandonment and indifference with which they repay Thy immense love! Forgive us all, forgive all poor sinners! Remember not our innumerable faults, and from the open wound of Thy Sacred Side let floods of grace and mercy descend upon us. Guard and protect us, hide us in this divine wound till that happy moment comes, when in our heavenly country we repeat with the angels throughout eternity: “Glory, love, gratitude, and unceasing praise be to the most loving Heart of our Saviour!”
THE SACRED HEART AND EUCHARISTIC REPARATION
By Fr. Albert Tesnière, S.S.S.
REPARATION is one of the essential characteristics of the worship of the Sacred Heart. The Saviour declares it in express terms. There are three special sins against the Holy Eucharist which it is called upon to repair. On this subject we shall hear the repeated declarations of the Revelations of the Sacred Heart, and we shall see reasons that render such reparation urgent and necessary. What strength, what help, what means for its perfect accomplishment does the devotion of the Sacred Heart afford! We feel ourselves urged, as it were, to respond to the touching and pressing appeal made to Margaret Mary: “Do thou, at least, try to console Me by making Me some return!”
To be convinced that devotion to the Sacred Heart means reparation for sins against the Holy Eucharist, we need but to listen to the clear and earnest words of the Saviour to Margaret Mary: “One day, during the octave of Corpus Christi, I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament. I received from God some great graces of His love, and I felt moved by the desire to make to Him some return, and to render Him love for love. He said to me: ‘Thou canst do nothing greater for Me than by doing what I have so often asked of thee.’
“Then showing me His Divine Heart, He said: ‘Behold this Heart which has so loved men that It has spared nothing even to exhausting and consuming Itself in order to testify to them Its love. Instead of acknowledgment, I receive for the most part only ingratitude, irreverence, sacrilege, coldness and contempt in this Sacrament of Love. But what I feel much more deeply is that it is hearts consecrated to Me that treat Me so. I ask, therefore, that the first Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi be devoted to a special festival in honor of My Heart, by communicating on that day and by making an act of reparation for the ingratitude It has received while exposed on the altars.’ ”
Nothing could be more formal. The Feast of the Sacred Heart sums up the whole devotion of the Sacred Heart. It was to be instituted in reparation “for the ingratitude, irreverence, sacrileges, coldness, and contempt which the majority of mankind exhibit for the Saviour in His Sacrament of Love.”
It might appear that, in this contemplation of the outrages committed against the Eucharist, there is little room for thanksgiving, for the mere thought of them fills the heart with sadness and calls loudly for reparation.
It is, however, a most precious gift from the Sacred Heart, and one that deserves earnest thanks, to recognize Its abasement, to be moved to pity It, and to be sensible of the necessity of offering some indemnification to It.
Our heart cannot fail to be overcome by the tenderest sentiments if we reflect on the incomprehensible love that led the Divine Saviour to institute the Eucharist, in spite of all the offences, humiliations, and ingratitude which He foresaw would result from so doing.
We shall be still more moved when we think of the even more amazing love which leads Him to remain undaunted in the midst of a world which despises and rejects Him, which urges Him to give Himself to those that receive Him with the intention of outraging Him more cruelly, or to others that will profit nothing by His coming to them. Oh, what disgust the sweet Saviour must feel for such souls! What struggles He must endure!
Jesus was ignorant of nothing that He would be forced to encounter in the Eucharist. Long before Its institution, when looking upon Judas, the foresight filled His Heart with the sharp thorns of anxiety most sorrowful, dug in It an ever-increasing wound, and planted deeply in It a Cross that crushed and bruised It.
The first time that He manifested His Heart to Margaret Mary, it was “With the Wound He received upon the Cross, a crown of thorns around It, and surmounted by a Cross. And my Divine Saviour made me understand,” she tells us, “that, from the first moment of His Incarnation, all His torments were present to Him, and from that first moment the Cross was, as it were, planted in His Heart. It was then that He accepted all the outrages to which His love for man exposed Him in the Blessed Sacrament till the end of time.”
What renders sin grave and reparation necessary, is the injury done to Divine Majesty and the importance of the precept despised. Now, from each of these points of view, sins against the Eucharist take on a gravity unequalled by any other. They wound directly the sacred Person of the Christ, and go right to His Heart; they are the ungrateful response to His tenderest and most generous love; they despise His formal commandments, thus incurring eternal damnation; lastly, they audaciously put on the character of public apostasy. From all these considerations, they call for earnest and indefatigable reparation.
The Divine Master sorrowfully enumerates “ingratitude, contempt, irreverence, coldness, and sacrileges.” On another occasion, He spoke of the “outrages to which His love had subjected Him by exposing Himself on our altars to the end of time.” Finally, He bitterly complained of “meeting only coldness and rebuffs, despite His eagerness to do us good.” [...]
In many places the churches are far from being filled at the Sunday Masses, and at Easter communicants are not numerous. If in some places we find crowded churches, yet even there the absentees far exceed those present. Can we say that the tenth part of baptized Christians render to God and to His Christ the primary duties of religion? Alas! with regard to God, universal apostasy, neglect of His authority, immense ingratitude toward Jesus Christ, who employs so much love, makes so many sacrifices, in order to immolate and give Himself, prevail everywhere. Mortal damage done to souls, loss to Christian society, the disappearance of Christ's beneficent action on the world, the liberty offered to Satan to establish his deadly empire—this is what everywhere confronts us.
Viewing it from the point of love, of which the Eucharist is the highest expression, as well as the tenderest manifestation, who can comprehend the bitter disappointment, the sharp sorrow experienced by the most loving Heart of Jesus, who finds His delights only in being with the children of men? To procure those delights, He shrank not from embracing the abasement of the sacramental state and taking upon this miserable earth a new existence, just when His Father bade Him ascend to His glorious rest. Coldness, contempt, rebuffs, the obstinate turning away of the majority of men, are the only response, the only acknowledgment of His well-meaning Presence, that Presence so full of benevolence, of welcome, of courtesy to all. “I have spread forth my hands all the day to an unbelieving people” (Is. lxv, 2).
The duty of reparation must now be evident and urgent to one who comprehends the gravity, the horror, and the number of sins against the Eucharist. But at the same time that reparation must appear difficult and altogether above the strength of one who sincerely recognizes his own weakness, the small value of his own good works, and the immense disproportion between them and their need. [...]
If we wish to repair worthily, we must earnestly, humbly, and perseveringly implore the Sacred Heart for the grace to do so. That dear Heart longs for nothing so much as to pour out such grace upon us. After having demanded of Margaret Mary the institution of Its feast, the Communion of reparation and the honorable amend of the Holy Hour, He said again to her: “I promise thee that My Heart will dilate to shed abundantly the influences of Its divine love upon those that will render to It this honor, and urge others to do the same.”
The first grace necessary for reparation is a compassionate love for Our Lord. This will make the soul attentive to the cruel and bloody wounds, to all that He endured in His mortal life, to all the mystical pains that He still undergoes in His sacramental life. This compassionate love will make the soul generous to enter into His sufferings, to endure them, to take upon herself the greater part of them, and to look upon such participation as the most precious joy.
The Divine Lover, the despised Lover, looks for one that will compassionate and console Him. “One day,” says Margaret Mary, “Our Lord honored me with one of His visits, and said to me: ‘My daughter, art thou really willing to give Me thy heart as a place of repose for My suffering love which all others despise?’ ‘My Lord, Thou knowest that I am all thine! Do with me as Thou dost desire.’ Then He said to me: ‘Knowest thou for what end I give thee My graces so abundantly? It is to make of thee, as it were, a sanctuary in which the fire of my love burns constantly. I have chosen thy heart as a sacred altar upon which to offer to My Eternal Father holocausts to appease His justice, and to render Him infinite glory by the offering that thou wilt make to Him of thyself, uniting thereto the sacrifice of thy being in order to honor Mine.’ ”
The second grace to be asked for reparation, is a very compassionate, a very devoted charity for the misfortune of souls who, by their sins injure the Sacred Heart. To pray for them, to offer one's self for them, to humble one's self, to chastise one's self in expiation of their sins and to obtain their conversion, to persevere in this devotedness till the end has been obtained—this is reparation sincere and efficacious. This is the reparation so much desired by that Heart which never ceases to love those that tear It to pieces, patiently to endure all their blows to win for them by Its patience pardon and conversion. What does St. Paul say? “For I wished myself to be an anathema from Christ, for my brethren, who are my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. ix, 3). One day, when Our Lord had shown Margaret Mary the bad treatment He had received in a soul who had communicated with affection to sin, seized with fear and sorrow, she cast herself at His feet, watered them with the tears she could not restrain, and said to Him: “My Lord and my God, if my life will be of any use to repair these injuries, although what Thou dost receive from me is a thousand times greater, yet behold me! I am Thy slave. Do with me whatever Thou pleasest. He replied: ‘Whenever I make known to thee the bad treatment I receive from that soul, I wish thee to prostrate at My feet after Communion and make honorable atonement to My Heart. Offer to the Father for the same end the bloody sacrifice of the Cross, along with thy own being, to pay homage to Mine and to repair the indignities I receive in this Heart.’ At these words, I suffered great pains, and I repeatedly begged for mercy. After I had received Him one Easter Day, He said to me: ‘I have heard thy groaning, and I have shed My mercy on that soul.’ ”
[The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus: Readings for the Month of June: From the Writings of Father A. Tesnière, S.S.S.]