“I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus.”
-Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque
If you’ve never heard of the First Friday or First Saturday Devotions, then learning to celebrate the Solemnities of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (June 11th 2021) and the Immaculate Heart of Mary (June 12th 2021) is a great place to start! While the First Friday and Saturday devotions occur all year long on the respective days of each month, there are also these days set aside to specifically honor the long-held (yes, even before Saint Alocoque) devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
It can be overwhelming to commit to attending the first Friday and Saturday of every month if you’re not used to frequenting Mass and Church events outside of the regular obligations but I encourage you to try anyways. Start with these Solemnities, make a big deal of them, read about them, maybe use some of the ideas below to really dig deep into these devotions and what they mean to you then when July rolls around start off the month continuing the devotion by attending First Friday and First Saturday if you’re able. If you can only do one, then do that! I’ll link below some websites that have more information concerning the history and tradition of these devotions for those interested.
Ideas for Celebrating the Alliance of the Two Hearts
Attend Mass on Both Days
Some parishes may have dedicated Masses scheduled or events outside of Mass you can attend but if not, don’t worry, the heart of this Devotion is based on personal consecrations to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. Read and discern over what is being asked in each devotion and then plan accordingly – most of the time one needs to go to confession, receive communion on both days, and offer up communion in reparation. For Saturdays, there is are added meditations and a Rosary!
Host a Cookout
Why a cookout? It’s Summer! One of the first ever liturgical celebrations I did was in conjunction with a small, young-adult group I was a part of not too long ago. This was also the first ever “larger” event that I hosted and I loved every second. Over time I’ve realized a small formula to help with hosting events to make them feel organic but meaningful: have something to eat/drink, something to do, and something to pray. Simple, but powerful! In the case of this cookout: we smoked BBQ while guests brought sides, drinks, and desserts plus yard games (“something to do”) and then we prayed before dinner. Should I do another in the future, I would spend a little more time in prayer and talking about the devotion but the rest of the evening was just wonderful.
Commit to the Devotions
As I mentioned before, a powerful takeaway from these Feasts would be to carry them throughout the year. I don’t think it’s coincidental that we’re being asked to dedicate the First Fridays and Saturdays. What better way to start out your month and align your goals, plans, and hopes? Make a point to schedule these in your calendar, take time off work if you need to/are able to, and maybe even make it a standing event with friends or family: every First Weekend is devoted to celebrating the Two Hearts and then grabbing a bite to eat or spending time together.
Practice a Penance in Reparation to the Two Hearts
In an increasingly gluttonous and hyper-stimulating world, I think it’s always good to practice fasting, abstinence, and penance to balance out all the worldly things being thrown at us. Perhaps you fast the days leading up to these Feasts or next month on the First Friday and First Saturday or at least abstain from meat. If you struggle with fasting: try giving up music, wearing a St. Thomas Aquinas chord, taking cold showers, or praying a full-crown of Rosaries. Offer whatever it is you pick in reparation to the Two Hearts – it’s similar to a friend buying you flowers or your favorite candy for you when you’re sad. They needn’t go so far to show their sympathy, just their presence would be enough, right? But the gesture emphasizes their intentions and that is ONE reason why penance is so beautiful (there’s many more but I digress…)
Schedule to have your home enthroned! It is basically a small event where a priest or group of dedicated organizers bring an image of the Two Hearts to your home. It is then blessed, the home is prayed over, and the image is enthroned in a place where it is seen often – some people may have it over their home altar if they have one while others may simply pick a wall that can’t be missed. We are essentially dedicating our earthly sanctuary to the Heavenly Sanctuaries of the Two Hearts. You are left with something that will provide protection, encouragement, and a powerful reminder in the most important place this side of Heaven: home.
A part of what Jesus said to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque also included a plea to keep Him company on Thursdays. In and of itself, to keep Him company in Adoration (or prayer, if Adoration is not readily available) is a beautiful thing always! In the case of the First Friday and First Saturday or these Solemnity Days coming up – to have a Holy Hour on Thursday is a wonderful way to prepare. This way we can enter these Solemnities with a focused state of true repentance and offering.
Watch “For Greater Glory”
One of my favorite movies that I feel goes very well for this time of year, particularly these Solemnities because the focus on the Sacred Heart of Jesus is very clear throughout the movie. For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada (2012) is based on a true story – the Cristero War that took place during the late 1920’s in Mexico. However, the people the movie is based on have their own feast day that took place not too long ago on May 21st. If you’re looking for a movie that will inspire you to live out your Faith and life “for greater glory” this is it.
Let me know what traditions you might start this year! How will you be celebrating the Solemnities of the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart?
First Friday Devotion: America Needs Fatima – ‘The Nine First Fridays Devotion’
First Saturday Devotion: Catholic Answers – ‘First Saturday Devotion Requirements’
Feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus/Immaculate Heart of Mary: article explaining why we celebrate the two back-to-back
Cristero Martyrs: Saints of the Cristero War