Why do we encourage to celebrate First Friday in such a special way??? St Margaret Mary Alacoque asks us for a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, because through the Sacred Heart of Jesus devotion we are reminded about Jesus’ perfect love for mankind. St Margaret Mary Alacoque had received special apparitions concerning devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The first apparition took place on 27 December, the feast of Saint John the Evangelist, probably in 1673, while Margaret Mary was a nun in the Visitation convent at Paray-le-Monial.
She related what happened to Fr. Claude de la Colombiere, describing how she had a vision of Jesus during which she was given some idea of the greatness of his love for mankind. Jesus told her that he wanted her to tell the people of this love, and a similar theme was expressed during the second apparition, early in 1674, when Margaret Mary saw Jesus’ Sacred Heart on a throne of flames, transparent as crystal, surrounded by a crown of thorns signifying the sins of mankind, with a cross above it.
Again Jesus told her of his infinite love for mankind and his desire that he should be honored through the display of this image of his heart, with the promise that all who did so would be specially blessed.
The third apparition probably took place on 2 July 1674, while Margaret Mary was praying before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, that is the host consecrated during Mass which had become the Body of Christ. She saw a vision of Jesus in glory, with his five wounds shining like suns, and he then showed her his heart on fire with love for mankind, a love that unfortunately was often ignored or treated with contempt. He 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.
The fourth apparition, which probably took place on 16 June 1675, was the most important. Again it happened as Margaret Mary was praying before the Blessed Sacrament, when he again showed her a representation of his heart, further complaining of the ingratitude and coldness of mankind towards him, and particularly when this was the case with those specially consecrated to him.
To make up for this he asked that the first Friday after the feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for the “Body of Christ”), should be dedicated as a feast in honor of his Sacred Heart, when people should receive Holy Communion in reparation.
The “Great promise” associated with this devotion applied to those who went to Communion on nine consecutive First 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 last hour.”
This promise is really one of the grace of final repentance, that is of dying in a state of grace, and so there is some similarity here to the promise attached to the brown scapular. If somebody dies in this state then although they may have to spend time in purgatory they will eventually get to heaven.
To qualify for this tremendous grace it is necessary to receive Holy Communion validly and worthily, that is not being in a state of mortal sin, on the nine consecutive first Fridays as stated. In addition the communicant must have the intention, at least implicitly, of making reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for all the sinfulness and ingratitude of mankind.