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Back to basics: Berala revives First Fridays devotions

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The Blessed Sacrament exposed for First Friday devotions at St Peter Chanel Berala. Photo: Supplied

First Fridays devotions were once a mainstay of Catholic devotional life in Australia, and one Sydney priest is doing his part to bring them back into fashion.

Fr Joshua Miechels, parish priest of St Peter Chanel and St Joseph in Berala has introduced a holy hour of adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament followed by benediction on the first Friday of every month.

He is reviving the traditional First Friday devotion with the help of the Emmanuel Community to give parishioners more opportunities to spend time in prayer with Jesus.

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“One hour a month in front of the Blessed Sacrament is not much, but it’s at the invitation of Jesus, which tells us that it has significant power,” Fr Josh said in his address to parishioners on Friday 1 March.

“It certainly looks like bread, but it’s not bread at all—it’s the flesh of the co-eternal son of God.

“It has always been and will always be a heart beating and each time it beats it says, ‘I love you.’

“This is what we will do for all eternity if we consent to God saving our soul, adoring our Lord.”

The power of devotions was revealed to Fr Miechels after reading The Awakening of Mercy by former rector of the Sanctuary of Paray-le-Monial in France, Fr Benoit Guédas.

The book details the apparition of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St Margaret Mary Alacoque and the Lord’s call to establish special prayers and reception of Communion on the first Friday of each month.

Fr Miechels says his own experience shows that practising the devotion only leads to a deeper relationship with Christ.

“I tried it myself and found it beneficial for me spiritually,” he told The Catholic Weekly.

“I thought it would be important for others as well because a lot of people don’t know how to pray.

“It’s such a simple, yet important thing that people always ask me how to do and this devotion gives them a great space to learn.

“It doesn’t require a whole lot of formation or intense knowledge of Catholic practice; it is simply a path to Jesus and a chance for dialogue with him.”

“It helps us love him more and by extension better live out our Christian life.”
From an evangelisation perspective, the priest says devotions have become an integral part of Catholic mission and identity.

“It’s very different to anything else found in other churches and is a staple of our Catholic faith.

“You can only get Coca-Cola from Coca-Cola, and so it’s the same principle here.

“There is a unique wisdom found in Catholic tradition and devotions like this are a great way of tapping into that.

“We speak of popular piety a lot in this day and age, and this is certainly one tool at its disposal.”

Fr Miechels and the Emmanuel community will continue to host First Friday devotions for the remainder of the year.

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