by Fr Richard Heilman | January 3, 2017 10:22 AM
This Saturday, January 7, marks the first of five First Saturdays leading up to the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima. In a sense, it marks our “last chance” to offer five consecutive First Saturdays before the 100 year period is over. In a recent article, I wrote about a “Nineveh 90” challenge to take the last 90 days before this 100 years is up to do what the people of Nineveh did, when Jonah warned them to repent. “Nineveh 90” begins on February 13, 2017 (You can read about it HERE). I highly recommend you, also, offer this “Five First Saturdays” devotion, that begins this Saturday, January 7.
The First Saturdays Devotion (also called the Act of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Blessed Virgin Mary) is a Catholic devotion which, according to Lúcia of Fátima, was requested by the Virgin Mary in an apparition at Pontevedra, Spain in December 1925. This devotion has been approved by the Roman Catholic Church.
The pious practice of honoring the Blessed Mother on Saturday is an ancient custom, derived from the tradition that Jesus appeared to her on Holy Saturday. The liturgical observation of venerating Mary on Saturday is attributed to Mary was largely the Benedictine Alcuin (735-804), “Minister of Education” at the court of Charlemagne, composed a Votive mass formulary for each day of the week. Alcuin assigned two formularies to Saturday in honor of Our Lady. The practice was quickly embraced by both clergy and laity.
The First Saturdays devotion had already been an established custom in the Catholic Church. On July 1, 1905, Pope Pius X approved and granted indulgences for the practice of the First Saturdays of twelve consecutive months in honor of the Immaculate Conception. This practice greatly resembled the reported request of Mary at the Pontevedra apparitions.
At the age of 14, Lúcia Santos, one of the purported visionaries of Our Lady of Fátima was admitted as a boarder to the school of the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Vilar, near the city of Porto. On October 24, 1925, she entered the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy as a postulant in the convent in Tui, Spain, just across the northern Portuguese border.
Sister Lucia later reported that on December 10, 1925, the Virgin Mary appeared to her at the convent in Pontevedra, Spain, and by Her side, elevated on a luminous cloud, was the Child Jesus. According to Lucia, Mary requested the institution of the Devotion of the Five First Saturdays in reparation to her Immaculate Heart.
Look, my daughter, at my Heart encircled by these thorns with which men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, strive to console me, and so I announce: I promise to assist at the hour of death with the grace necessary for salvation all those who, with the intention of making reparation to me, will, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, say five decades of the beads, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.
Such sorrow is particularly bitterly endured on Holy Saturday after Jesus was placed on the Sepulcher (before the Resurrection on Easter). Devotees of Fátima believe that the First Saturdays help to console the sorrows of God, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary for the sins against Her Immaculate Heart.
1. Spirit of Reparation
The spirit of reparation is a loving desire to make reparation to and console the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Our Mother. It considers the offenses which the Immaculate Heart of Mary now receives from those who reject her maternal intervention and despise her prerogatives.
One should make this intention before carrying out Our Lady’s requests. A renewal of the actual intention at the time is best.
2. Confession in the Spirit of Reparation
If one cannot go to confession the first Saturday of the month, one can go within eight days. Even one’s monthly confession would be sufficient, which would need the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
3. Reparatory Communion
This is the essential act of this devotion. If a just reason prevents the Communion on a First Saturday, with the priest’s permission it may be received the following Sunday.
4. Recitation of the Rosary
The rosary is a vocal prayer said while meditating upon the mysteries of Our Lord’s and Our Lady’s lives. To comply with the request of our Blessed Mother, it must be offered in reparation for the offenses committed against her Immaculate Heart and said properly while meditating.
5. 15-minute Meditation
Also offered in reparation, the meditation may embrace one or more mysteries; it may include all, taken together or separately. This meditation should be the richest of any meditation, because Our Lady promised to be present when she said “…those who keep me company….”
One could wonder: why five Saturdays? Our Lord answered that question when He appeared to Sr. Lucy May 29, 1930.
My daughter, the reason is simple. There are five types of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
1. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception;
2. Blasphemies against her virginity;
3. Blasphemies against her divine maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognize her as the Mother of men;
4. Blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children, indifference or scorn or even hatred of this Immaculate Mother;
5. Offenses of those who outrage her directly in her holy images.
1. Salvation of our own soul
To all those who, on the First Saturday of five consecutive months … fulfill all the conditions requested, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their soul. This little devotion practiced with a good heart, is then enough to procure infallibly for us – ex opere operato so to speak – as with the sacraments – the grace of final perseverance, of eternal salvation! And this promise is without any exclusion, limitation, restriction. To all who ….. I promise. Heaven for eternity for five Holy Communions!
2. Salvation of sinners
So numerous are the souls which the justice of God condemns for sins committed against Me that I come to ask for reparation. Sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray. (Our Lady to Sister Lucy at Tuy, June 13,1929.) ‘In consideration of this little devotion, They (Jesus and Mary) wish to give the grace of pardon to souls who have had the misfortune of offending the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” wrote Sister Lucy in a letter of May, 1930.
3. Peace in the world
“Whether the world has war or peace depends on the practice of this devotion, along with the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is why I desire its propagation so ardently, especially because this is also the will of our dear Mother in Heaven.” Sister Lucy, March 19,1939.
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