The Devotion of the First Fridays of the Month – Promise of a Heart Ablaze with Love

Who would turn down a lottery ticket with a guaranteed prize…? We would gladly submit to the toughest demands in order to obtain one. Well, here is the winning ticket offered to us by God himself!

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is as old as the Church. It was at the Last Supper, the moment when the Eucharist was instituted as a memorial of the Passion that the Beloved Disciple listened to the unfathomable beating of the Divine Heart… And it was at Calvary’s peak, when Christ was consummating His redemptive holocaust, that the soldier “pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (Jn 19:34). From the pierced Heart of Christ issued the Church, and abundant graces have flowed over Christendom and men of every age.

However, this devotion has not yet reached its apogee, despite the repeated requests of the Saviour throughout recent times, especially since the 17th century. In order to draw humanity to His Heart “with the bands of love” (Hos 11:4), He deigned to make a series of promises to those who dedicate themselves to the practice of this devotion.

Promise and reparation

These days the word promise has become trivial. Many people make them, few fulfil them reliably, which is why the act of promising can have an empty ring to it and fail to inspire trust. But this cannot apply to a promise made by God, because “for Him, to promise is to already give; but it is first of all to give the faith capable of hoping for the gift to come and through this grace it is to make the receiver capable of thanksgiving (cf. Rom 2:20) and of recognizing, in the gift, the heart of the giver.”1 Indeed, “God is not man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfil it?” (Nm 23:19).

As we saw in the previous article, the Sacred Heart of Jesus made twelve promises to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque between 1673 and 1675. In the bull of her canonization, Benedict XV affirms that the words recorded by the nun are faithful to the revelations that the Good Jesus deigned to make to this servant of His. They have been so often confirmed by the voice of the Church that we ought to believe in them.

The twelfth of them, more commonly known as the great promise, refers to the Communion of reparation on the first Fridays of the month, which offers a guarantee of the most desirable thing to man on this earth, and also the most uncertain: entry into Heaven.

The great promise made by the Sacred Heart gives man assurance of what is most desirable and most uncertain: entry into Heaven

These are the Redeemer’s words: “I promise you, in the excess of the mercy of my Heart, that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the first Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die without my grace nor without receiving the Sacraments; my divine Heart shall be their safe refuge at that last hour.”2

Nothing could be more just on our part than to make reparation to an offended God; nothing could be more merciful on Jesus’ part than to grant a reward to those who do so, thus doing no more than their duty.

Fr. Croiset3 teaches us that the aim of this practice of devotion is, firstly, to render the greatest possible acknowledgment and honour to the love and tenderness that Jesus Christ currently has for us in the adorable Eucharist. Secondly, to make reparation in every possible way for the affronts and outrages to which love exposes Him every day in the Blessed Sacrament.

In ordinary terms, to repair is to restore integrity to something that has been corrupted or to fix what has been damaged, which presupposes a previously better state. In spiritual terms, reparation “is less about looking at the past, which we abandon to divine mercy, than it is about considering the future, which must be enkindled with more ardent and purer charity.”4

When this principle is applied to the atonement we must make to the Sacred Heart, to offer reparation is to respond with ardent love to what He has done for us, to restore the glory that was unjustly robbed from Him.

Reparation to the risen Jesus in the Eucharist

Our Lord knew to what extremes of evil humanity would fall if it did not heed the calls of grace. And here we are in today’s world, convulsed by crises, wars and revolutions, immersed in the most shocking atheism; it is difficult to find a corner where God is not gravely offended. Sins rise to the throne of the Divine Majesty like a thick, disgusting cloud of smoke and cry out to Heaven for vengeance.

In this sad scene of decadence, the Sacred Heart of Jesus asks us to make amends for the offences committed against Him in the Eucharist.5 For what reason?

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the house of the Heralds of the Gospel in São Carlos (Brazil)

When we say “Eucharistic Heart of Jesus” we do not just pronounce a title reminiscent of the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is not a remembrance, like a father or a famous man who, before leaving his loved ones, allows himself to be represented in a statue, a painting, a portrait or a monument. Christ took His love to unprecedented extremes; He wanted to enclose himself under the veil of the Eucharistic Species in order to fulfil His promise: “Lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).

Nothing could be more just than to make reparation to God, responding with ardent love to His giving of himself in the Eucharist

Now, if Christ is risen – and this is our Faith (cf. Rom 4:24) – and is in the Eucharist, then the same Divine Heart pierced by the spear of Longinus pulses resurrected, really and truly in the Sacrament of the Altar, in which we find Jesus as He is now: glorified at the right hand of the Father and in full possession of the glory of the Resurrection.

Therefore, the outrages committed against the Eucharistic Jesus can be compared to those of the executioners who killed the Saviour’s Body;6 the coldness and indifference, the disregard and lack of love on the part of so many who call themselves Christians are comparable to the culpable tepidity of Pilate, who made Jesus suffer the Passion.

It is therefore in this grave context that the Sacred Heart asks us to make the Communions of reparation on First Fridays. Let us take a look at His words.

A sublime reason behind a request

I promise you, in the excess mercy of my Heart, that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion…”

In this sentence we can glimpse a truly divine tactic, an infinitely affectionate, gentle, almost motherly gesture by Our Lord, in making us a promise that is more like a reminder, as if saying to us:

“I died for you; cannot you come to Me at least once a month? Come, my child, what keeps you away? Has not the Church been repeating in my name for two thousand years the promise I made to the Apostles: ‘He who eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life’ (Jn 6:54)? Here I show you the essential means to reach Heaven: living my life, communicated through the Eucharist.”

“…on the first Friday of nine consecutive months…”

Genesis tells us (cf. Gen 1:26-31) that on the sixth day of creation, God created man and woman in His image and likeness. “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31).

On the corresponding day of the week, Friday, the Incarnate Word consummated the Redemption, disfiguring himself to restore the beauty of the first man. With divine delicacy, Jesus calls for this small act of recognition: that we honour Him on the day He created us and redeemed us, opening the gates of Heaven to us.

It is worth pointing out here that Our Lord did not mean that we should honour Him only on First Fridays, but that we should keep Him company at least on this day. Those who truly love do not restrict themselves to dates or set times for devotional practices, but make their lives a continuous act of reparation!

You will be with Me in Paradise!

“…[He will grant] the grace of final repentance; they shall not die without my grace, nor without receiving the Sacraments…”

“Communion for the agonizing”, by Alexey Venetsianov – Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

We are stunned by the unheard-of prodigy of love that took place when the Divine Redeemer, hanging from the Cross, forgave the thief by pronouncing the first and most solemn canonization in history: “today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43). What had that criminal done to deserve such a reward – he who had spent his life stealing? He simply recognized his guilt and turned in repentance to Our Lord.

What a relief, at the moment of our agony, to be able to contemplate the Sacred Heart at our side, sustaining us in our final struggle

This same promise is made to us in other terms by the Sacred Heart, for what is final penitence if not the essential element for obtaining forgiveness and winning God’s grace? And what does it mean to die in God’s grace, if not to have the guaranteed “passport” for entry into eternal bliss?

As for the words “nor without receiving the Sacraments,” we should understand not the reception of the Sacraments absolutely, but inasmuch as they are necessary for salvation, so that we do not die in God’s displeasure.7

To achieve this grace of final perseverance, three conditions are required of us:

  1. Communion must be received on the first Friday of the month.
  2. For nine months in a row. If there is an interruption, the novena must be started again.
  3. This should be done not only in a state of grace, but with the special intention of honouring and making reparation to the Sacred Heart.

These conditions, easy on the surface. are more difficult than ever for Catholics today, and only authentic devotees of Our Lord are capable of complying with them.

The eloquent voice of the Sacred Heart

“…my divine Heart shall be their safe refuge at that last hour.

What a relief, at the moment of our mortal agony, to be able to contemplate the Sacred Heart at our side, sustaining us in our final struggle in this vale of tears! What unspeakable joy when, having crossed the threshold of eternity, we receive the sentence of the Divine Judge: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt 25:34).

In our day, however, humanity is also in the final throes of agony, and to it Our Lord seems to be directing the last appeals of His adorable Heart as never before. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench” (Is 42:3). Who will be able to plumb the unfathomable mysteries of the Heart of Jesus for the Holy Church in the current contemporary crisis?

For the last times is reserved the grace of hearing the eloquent voice of the Sacred Heart, which will inflame the world with divine love

In the 13th century, St. John the Evangelist foreshadowed something of this glorious future in a mystical communication to St. Gertrude: “My ministry in those early days of the Church was to be limited to saying a few fruitful words about the Divine Word, the Eternal Son of the Father, on which human intelligence could meditate constantly without ever exhausting His riches; but the grace of hearing the eloquent voice of the Heart of Jesus was reserved for the latter times. At the hearing of this voice, the aged world will be rejuvenated; it will leave its torpor, and the warmth of divine love will yet inflame it.”8

Mass in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus celebrated on the first Friday of April, 2024, in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Caieiras (Brazil (SP)

So we must not allow this precious key to Heaven be lost, for “the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him” (Jn 4:23). Let us unite ourselves to Our Lady, who carried the Divine Redeemer within her cloister for nine months, and ask her to present our act of reparation not only through the Communions of the nine first Fridays but, better yet, with a whole life earnestly spent in holiness.

We therefore need to turn to the Heart of Jesus “as a source of graces prepared for the time of Revolution, prepared for the difficult times that were to come, and beseech the Heart of Jesus, regenerative by the blood and water that flows from it, to wash us clean. This is precisely the magnificent prayer that should be considered on Fridays and, above all, on the first Friday of the month and on Good Friday.”9 ◊



1 RAMLOT, OP, Marie-Léon; GUILLET, SJ, Jacques. Promesas. In: LÉON-DUFOUR, SJ, Xavier (Org.). Vocabulario de Teología Bíblica. 17.ed. Barcelona: Herder, 1996, p.731.

2 The textual words of the revelation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were taken from the work: UM OBLATO DE MARIA IMACULADA. O Coração de Jesus segundo a doutrina de Santa Margarida Maria. São Paulo: Cultor de Livros, 2018, p.209.

3 Cf. CROISET, SJ, Jean. La dévotion au Sacré-Cœur de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ. 2.ed. Paris: Quillau, 1741, p.11.

4 LADAME, Jean. Doutrina e espiritualidade de Santa Margarida Maria. São Paulo: Loyola, 1985, p.81.

5 Our Lord’s complaint to St. Margaret in June 1675 reads as follows: “I receive from the greater part [of men] only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt they show Me in this Sacrament of love. But what I feel most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me who treat Me thus. On this account, I ask of you that the first Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special Feast to honour my Heart. On that day, Communion should be received and reparation made to my Heart by a solemn act to make amends for the indignities to which It has been exposed on my altars” (ST. MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE. Autobiografia. São Paulo: Loyola, 1985, p.68).

6 Cf. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. Summa Theologiæ. III, q.80, a.5, ad 1.

7 SALVADOR OF THE HEART OF JESUS, OFM Cap. A grande promessa do Sacratíssimo Coração de Jesus. 95.ed. São Paulo: Loyola, 2014, p.9.

8 PRÉVOT, SCJ, André. Amor, paz e alegria. Mês do Sagrado Coração de Jesus segundo Santa Gertrudes. Taubaté: Publicações S.C.J., 1937, p.20.

9 CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, Plinio. Conference. São Paulo, 4/3/1965.



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