Is First Friday Mass an obligation?
I am just a regular parishioner who goes to church every Sunday and to other holiday obligations. But it is very rare that I attend the mass on first Friday. My question is, is it an obligation to go to this special mass, and what is the significance of it?
By the way, this magazine is wonderful. Very inspirational to everyone and has lots of good and interesting stories to share. God bless the people who made it possible. Keep up the great work.
-- Chino Hills resident
Dear Chino Hiils resident,
We asked Paul Dion, STL - ParishWorld blogger and Theology Editor - to answer your question and this is what he said. We know many like yourself will be enlightened and blessed by this reponse.
No one who is a regular reader of Parish World is “just a regular parishioner.” So, here we go.
The First Friday Mass is part of a very special popular devotion that has been around since about the 1920’s. Being a popular devotion, it is not imposed on all Catholics and the First Friday devotional Mass is therefore not obligatory.
The devotion that it supports is to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the late 19th century a French nun by the name of Margaret Mary had visions of Jesus with his heart visible through His chest. These visions took place at the convent where she was staying at Paray-le-Monial in France. The nun was a very holy person and in fact was canonized early in the 20th century.
Along the course of the visions, the Sacred Heart made a promise that found its way into the hearts of His people around the world. Essentially is this: Anyone who attends the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and participates in the sacred banquet of holy communion for nine consecutive first Fridays will not die outside the loving kindness and presence of the Sacred Heart in the form of the sacraments of Penance, Sacrament of Healing (Anointing of the sick) and the Viaticum.
This devotion, along with its promise, received unprecedented, and very rare support from the Pope who canonized Saint Margaret Mary when he mentioned the promise of the First Fridays in his Bull (letter) announcing his intention to canonize Margaret Mary. As you can imagine, this devotion “took off” and is one of the cornerstone devotions of our Catholic prayer life to this very day.
The reason why you, and many others, wonder if attendance at Mass on First Friday is obligatory is that you hear people saying all the time, “It’s First Friday tomorrow, I have to go to Mass.”
It’s because so many people do not do the novena, that they then forget about it. But many keep doing it most of their lives. How do I know that? I am one of those “habitués.”
Here is a link that you may enjoy.
Paul Dion, STL