First Friday devotion in the Catholic Church dates back to the late 17th century in France when a Visitation nun, Margaret Mary Alacoque, experienced a series of apparitions in which Jesus explained to her “the devotion to His Sacred Heart as He wanted people to practice it. He asked to be honored in the symbol of His Heart of flesh; he asked for acts of reparation, for frequent Communion, Communion on the First Friday of the month, and the keeping of the Holy Hour.” (www.ewtn.com). Among the 12 promises that our Lord shared with St. Margaret Mary is the following:
In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.
Here at St. Augustine we keep the tradition of First Friday from October through May with Eucharistic Adoration following the 10:30am School Mass until 5pm when the Augustinian Corona is recited.
What is Eucharistic Adoration?
Eucharistic Adoration is the adoration of Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist. During Adoration, the Eucharist is placed in a special holder, called a monstrance, while the faithful come to pray and worship Jesus continually. Though there are special prayers that may be sung or said during Adoration, many people choose to simply spend some quiet time in reflection or meditation in the presence of the Lord.
After the 10:30am Mass on the first Friday of the month, Adoration begins with Exposition of the Eucharist; this is when the priest solemnly and reverently places the Eucharist in the monstrance, exposing it for the faithful. Incense is used and a traditional hymn is sung (sometimes in English, sometimes in Latin). The hymns used are in the back of the “Breaking Bread” hymnal.
There is no prescribed or set way to pray during Adoration. Some people pray the rosary, some practice a form of meditative prayer called Lectio Divina, some just sit silently. If guidance is desired, prayer books are always available at the entrance to the Church. There is also no set amount of time that one is expected to spend in prayer. Some adorers come for a few minutes while others may be present an hour or more. There should, however, always be at least one person present which is why we have sign-up sheets.
Towards the end of the time period set aside for Adoration (usually 5pm), the Augustinian Corona is recited. This is a devotion which incorporates elements of the Rosary and the Apostles’ Creed. Booklets are provided for this devotion which is led by one of the Friars. After the Corona, Adoration concludes with Benediction, which is when the priest kneels before the altar, another song is sung, a prayer is said, the priest blesses those present and the Eucharist is reposed – returned to the tabernacle.
For more information on Eucharistic Adoration, check out www.therealpresence.org.