Our Catholic Traditions: First Friday Devotions

Are you familiar with First Friday devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? If not, read on! It is a rich and beautiful devotion that all Catholics should at least be aware of. 🙂

(Image in Public Domain)

What is the First Friday Devotion, you ask?

The First Friday Devotion was popularized by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. St. Margaret Mary was a mystic to whom the Lord appeared frequently and entrusted her with the mission of establishing devotion to His Sacred Heart.

Basically, the devotion consists of going to Mass and receiving Holy Communion for nine (9) consecutive first Fridays of the month. The person honoring this devotion will go to Mass with the particular intention of honoring Jesus’ Sacred Heart and in reparation for those who do not love Him or receive Him. In His own words, He said to St. Margaret Mary:

“I promise you in the excessive mercy of M Heart that its all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on nine first Fridays of consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they will not die under My displeasure or without receiving their sacraments, My divine Heart making itself their assured refuge at the last moment.”

Jesus actually made 12 promises to anyone who would honor Him by this devotion. This shows His amazing mercy and love: we give him a little thing, like the sacrifice of our time for Mass, and He gives back so much more!

Other Practices

Going to Mass and receiving Our Lord in Communion is the only requirement for the First Friday Devotion; however, that doesn’t mean you have to stop there. Some other practices to honor Our Lord’s Sacred Heart for First Friday (or any day!) include:

Our Lord’s heart bleeds for those who do not know Him or love Him or receive His precious Body and Blood. Many of us do not have the opportunity to go to daily Mass, but perhaps we can make the effort to make it one extra day a month? What do you say? Can you join with me in making reparation to Our Sweet Lord on the First Fridays of each month?

Further Reading

catholictradition.org

miraclerosarymission.org

catholic.net

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Tweetable: First Friday Devotions

(Linked to Catholic Blogger’s Network.)

7 Ways to Honor the Blessed Mother in May

Did you know that May is traditionally the “Month of Mary” in the Catholic Church? Well, it is. 🙂

Mother Mary

Image by Peter Griffin (unknown) via Public Domain Pictures, CCO Public domain

Here are seven simple ways you can honor her his month:

1. Daily Mass.

The absolute best way to honor the Blessed Mother is to honor, love and worship her Son. If you can, try to make an extra effort to get to daily mass. If you can’t make it everyday, try to go a couple of times during the week.

2. Pray the Rosary.

The rosary is one of the most powerful prayer on earth. Try and pray the rosary every day. Pray as a family as often as you can.

3. May crowning.

If your parish (or a parish nearby) does a May crowning, do try to attend. Often there is a small procession and prayers but it isn’t usually too long. Still, it is a lovely way to show Mother Mary our love for her.

4. Pray a novena.

I found a beautiful prayer that you can say each day in the month of May. I usually do a daily devotional during the month of May. Even if you start the devotional late, it is still a lovely way to honor Our Lady. Remember, there is no time in eternity. 😉

5. Take a pilgrimage.

If there is a Marian shrine not too far from you, going for a visit or day of recollection would be a wonderful way to honor the Blessed Mother. Some shrines offer different Marian devotions during May that you could participate in if it fits your schedule as well.

6. Short aspirations.

As you go about your busy day, try to lift your heart up to the Lord and Our Lady and whisper a little prayer. Any of the invocations of the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary would make excellent aspirations.

One thing I do to help me remember to do this is to put small “sticky” notes discretely around the house. When I see them it reminds me to say a short prayer.

7. May flowers.

If you have a statue of the Blessed Mother at home, why not put some flowers at her feet? It’s a sweet way to honor Our Lady and let her know you are thinking of her.

What are your suggestions to help us honor Our Lady in May? Do share your suggestions and thoughts in the comment box!

What the Catholic Church Teaches about Marriage

The Lord has been putting it in my heart to do a little series on marriage* for a while, and since February is the ‘month of love’ with St. Valentine’s Day and all, I figured now would be a good as time as any to get it going. 🙂

In this first installment, I am going to talk about marriage as a sacrament based on Scripture and the Catechism. Then over the next couple of weeks I’ll talk about what makes a good marriage, loving your spouse and finally a post on submission (which always seems to be a hot topic!). So let’s get started:

Marriage as a Sacrament

Before we talk about marriage as a sacrament, let’s remind ourselves what a sacrament is. According to the Baltimore Catechism, a Sacrament is “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.” The New Catechism states this a bit differently, a Sacrament is “an outward sign of an inward reality instituted by Christ to give grace.”

In the case of marriage, the outward sign would be the couple – husband and wife – itself. The inward reality, of course, would be Christ’s love for the Church.

As married people, we are a sign to the world of Christ’s abiding love for all people, the people whom He lived, suffered, died and rose again. We are a sign of the unseen heavenly realities of which our lives are directed. This is an incredible truth of our faith!

The Scriptural basis for marriage

You are probably familiar with many of the Scripture verses that relate to marriage, but let me remind you of one of them again. If you can, it may be nice to spend some time praying over this and the other verses during the month.

Genesis 2:21-24So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs, and closed up its place with flesh. the Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: ‘This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

This is one of several Scriptures. I encourage you to read Matthew 19:4-7, Mark 10:7-12, 1 Corinthians 7: 3-5, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5: 22-32, Revelation 19:6-8 for more verses, especially the ones pertaining to Christ and His Church.

What the catechism says about marriage

The catechism (articles 1601-1666) has some beautiful passages about the sacrament of marriage and I hope you will read them. There are a couple of powerful passages, however, that I want to point out:

“”The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” (article 1601)

“”By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God.” This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they “help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.” (article 1641)

The word covenant is worth noting here. Remember God’s covenant to Abraham? God made an everlasting promise to Abraham. In marriage, a couple makes an everlasting (until death) covenant to each other, before God, which in turn grants them their “own special gifts in the people of God.”

The Purpose of the Sacrament of Marriage

The church teaches us that the purpose of the sacrament of marriage is twofold: to help each spouse to grow in holiness and the “procreation and education of offspring (1601).”

Simple words, yet they aren’t always easy live out! I think that’s why we need the special graces afforded to us in the Sacrament of Matrimony. In the day in and day out of living, we can forget the gift and the grace of our marriage state. It’s worth taking time time to reflect on our special calling once in a while. We need the reminder that marriage, Catholic marriage particularly, is so much more than what the world view of marriage shows us.

Next week I’ll get more practical and will share my thoughts on what makes a good marriage. 🙂

(Linked to Saints and Scripture Sunday)

*Just for your information, I will not be touching on topics such as divorce, marriage vs civil unions, birth control or other “hot” topics related to marriage in this series. I may in the future, but for now, I want to use this series to be an encouragement and support for those who are discerning marriage or who already married and looking to deepen their relationship with their spouse. 🙂

Our Catholic Traditions: Weekly and Monthly Devotions

In order to help us grow in our faith, the Church encourages many different types of devotions and dedications. Our Mother Church also encourages us to use these devotions to delve deeper into our faith. One way She does this is by encouraging weekly and monthly devotions dedicated to a particular saint or article of faith.

Our Catholic Devotions: Weekly & Monthly Devotions

I first learned of many of these devotions when I was discerning a religious vocation with the Little Sisters of the Poor. They had (and I assume still do) special prayers and practices for each day of the week or month of the year. After leaving that religious congregation, I discovered that it was universally practiced in the Catholic Church and not just their order.

Here are the weekly devotions:

Sunday: The Holy Trinity

Monday: The Souls in Purgatory

Tuesday: Our Guardian Angels

Wednesday: Saint Joseph

Thursday: The Eucharist

Friday: The Passion of Jesus (Divine Mercy) and/or The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Saturday: The Immaculate Heart of Mary

And the Monthly Devotions:

January: The Holy Childhood of Jesus

February: The Holy Family

March: Saint Joseph

April: The Blessed Sacrament

May: Our Lady

June: Sacred Heart of Jesus

July: The Precious Blood of Jesus

August: The Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Assumption of Mary)

September: The Seven Sorrows of Mary

October: The Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary

November: The Poor Souls in Purgatory

December: The Immaculate Conception

Over the coming weeks and months, I will do my best to expound a little on the history and particulars of each devotion. In the meantime, in case you missed it, here’s a little primer on Why Honoring the Lord’s Day is Important and Ten Ways to Honor the Lord’s Day.

One more thing: for those of you who may want to know (or can’t ever remember) what days each of the Rosary Mysteries are prayed here they are:

Sunday: The Glorious Mysteries

Monday: The Joyful Mysteries

Tuesday: The Sorrowful Mysteries

Wednesday: The Glorious Mysteries

Thursday: The Luminous or Joyful Mysteries

Friday: The Sorrowful Mysteries

Saturday: The Joyful Mysteries (or Glorious Mysteries after 3pm)

A suggestion: This isn’t traditional, but over the years I have developed a habit of focusing on one Mystery over the seasons. For example: During Advent and Christmas I prayed the Joyful Mysteries every day. During Lent I pray the Sorrowful Mysteries everyday. During the Easter season I pray the Glorious Mysteries every day. And during Ordinary time I rotate the Mysteries as listed above.

Doing this has helped me enter deeper into the season and mystery that is being celebrated. You may want to give it a try to see if it helps you. 🙂

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Tweetable: Weekly & Monthly Devotions

Our Catholic Traditions: Devotion to the Holy Childhood of Jesus

Infant of Prague(Photo Credit)

One of the things I’d like to do this year is grow in my understanding and appreciation for the many traditions (with both the “big T” and “little t”) that are held dear in our Catholic Faith. I know for myself, I can take for granted all riches and graces and beauty of our faith. So in that vein, I will be exploring many of the monthly and/or weekly traditional devotions held within the church and sharing them with you. May we together make 2012 a year of growth in our faith and holiness.

The first tradition that I recently discovered is that January has always been dedicated to the Holy Childhood of Jesus. It was a surprise to learn that this devotion dates back to the 300’s AD – and even earlier.

I confess that I never had any particular devotion to the Childhood of Jesus; but, I do remember my Aunt Pat giving me a statue of the Infant of Prague. She always said that if I kept a dollar bill under the statue I’d always have money. (Is that because there’s always a dollar under the statue or because the Lord is watching over me, or a little bit of both?!)

As I searched for information about this devotion to the Holy Childhood, I didn’t find tons; but, if you’d like to explore the history and practices of devotion to the Childhood of Jesus (and the Infant of Prague), you can check out the sites here, here and here.

I also found a prayer that I am going to begin on Friday as a novena. If you would like to join me, here it is:

O Jesus, Prince of Peace and King of the Universe, you chose to humble yourself and come into the world, not as a powerful ruler, but as a helpless infant; grant us the grace of humility and gentleness before you and our brothers and sisters. Grant, too, O Lord, that we may always strive to achive the virtue and innocence of your own Holy Childhood. Instill in us a growing faith you, O Lord, and the strength to resist temptation in a world which so widely rejects you. Look upon us with compassion and forgive us our sins. Fill our hearts with kindness and understanding, especially for children, the aged and those we dislike or who dislike us.

O Jesus, who so loved children that you admonished us, “Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven,” grant us a child-like faith and purity of heart. Give us the grace not only to pray fervently, but to help spread your Gospel by deed as well as word. Amen. (from Franciscan Mission Associates pamphlet)

(Found the prayer here.)

Linked to Saints and Scripture Sunday.