By TARA CONNNOLLY Staff writer
A devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Eucharistic adoration and a holy hour drew faithful to Holy Ghost, Bethlehem Sept. 6 to begin a nine-month First Friday Devotion at Holy Ghost to deepen their relationship with the Lord and pray for one another.
Father Mark Searles, director of the Diocesan Office for Vocations Promotion, presided at the opening devotion. Assisting was Father David Kozak, pastor of Holy Ghost.
Father Searles welcomed the faithful and said the devotion would continue for nine months – similar to the nine days associated with a novena, which originated from the nine days the apostles spent in prayer before Pentecost.
“I believe that the young people and families in our Diocese are hungry for more time with the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. And several commentators and leaders in our Church have spoken that where the Lord's presence is honored, reverenced and adored in Eucharistic adoration, the whole Church is lifted up and strengthened,” he said.
“We also will pray for more laborers in the vineyard – especially to the priesthood – and for our own vocation in life.”
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which venerates and honors the heart of Jesus, became widespread through
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1675 within the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi.
“When Jesus spoke to St. Margaret Mary and revealed the beauty and mercy of his heart to her, he spoke of several promises for those who reverence his heart, including an abundance of graces, blessings and even the conversion of the most hardened hearts,” said Father Searles.
“We are in a great time of need for that mercy and grace, and so I believe it is a perfect time to pray this novena, to offer confessions during the holy hour for more people to receive God's mercy, and to encourage more young people to encounter Christ in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.”
Father Searles read the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus made to St. Margaret Mary:
“I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life.
I will establish peace in their families.
I will comfort them in their trials.
I will be their secure refuge during life, and, above all, in death.
I will shed abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
Sinners will find in my heart an infinite ocean of mercy.
Lukewarm souls will become fervent.
Fervent souls will rapidly grow in holiness and perfection.
I will bless every place where an image of my heart shall be exposed and honored.
I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.The names of those who promote this devotion will be written in my heart, never to be blotted out.
I promise thee, in the excessive 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 penitence; they shall not die in my disgrace nor without receiving their sacraments; my divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.”
The service also featured the sacrament of reconciliation, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, benediction, reflection and the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
First Friday Adoration, Holy Hour and Sacred Heart Devotion, will continue on First Fridays, Oct. 4, Nov. 1, Dec. 6, Jan. 3, Feb. 7, March 6, April 3 and May 1, 7 to 8 p.m. at Holy Ghost Church, 417 Carlton Ave., Bethlehem. Young adults, families and faithful of all ages are welcome.