To dedicate Saturday in honour of Mary is an ancient custom. And it takes a special form since the apparition of Our Lady in Fatima, 1917. It is there, she drew the attention of the whole world to the devotion of First Five Saturdays. What is the object of this devotion? How to do it? What are the benefits for those who are performing it and lastly what is the spirit Our Lady demands of us in performing these devotion? Fr. Patrick Abbet presents the solution in a simple Catechetical format (Taken with permission from Ite Missa est, May - June 2020, Pp. 14-19)
- What is the First Saturdays Devotion?
The First Saturdays Devotion consists of Communions of Reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, received on the first Saturdays of five consecutive months.
- What is the origin of this devotion?
The origin of this devotion is the third apparition of Our Lady to the children of Fatima, on 13th July 1917. In this apparition, Our Blessed Mother spoke of the necessity of sacrifices for sinners. She then showed the three children hell. After this terrible vision, she said:
You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if they do not stop offending God, an even worse war will begin during the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is a great sign God gives you that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.
To prevent this, I shall come to ask that Russia be consecrated to my Immaculate Heart, and I shall ask that on the First Saturday of every month Communions of reparation be made in atonement for the sins of the world. If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, then Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, bringing new wars and persecution of the Church; the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer; certain nations will be annihilated. But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and the world will enjoy a period of peace ...
- Did Our Lady come back for the consecration of Russia and the Communions of Reparation?
Yes, Our Lady kept her promise and returned on 10th December 1925 at Pontevedra to request the practice of the Communions of Reparation. And she came back on 13th June 1929 at Tuy to ask for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.
- What happened at Pontevedra?
On 10th December 1925, Our Blessed Mother appeared to Lucy at Pontevedra, Spain. Sr. Lucy, while a Dorothean postulant, was in her cell when Our Lady appeared to her, placing one hand on Sr. Lucy’s shoulder and with the other hand showing her a heart surrounded by thorns. Next to the Blessed Virgin was the Child Jesus borne by a luminous cloud and He said to her:
Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.
Then the Most Blessed Virgin said:
Look, my daughter, at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the rosary, and keep me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the 15 mysteries of the rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.
- Is this devotion a new devotion?
This is not a new devotion. Saturdays have been associated with devotion to the Blessed Virgin for many centuries. In 1889, Pope Leo XIII granted a plenary indulgence to those who devoted fifteen Saturdays in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary. In 1905, Pope St. Pius X granted a plenary indulgence to all who would perform the twelve First Saturdays in honour of the Immaculate Conception. Lastly on 13th June 1912 – five years before the great manifestation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Fatima – the same Pope granted an indulgence to the faithful who, on the First Saturday of each month, perform some special exercise of devotion in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate, in order to make atonement for the blasphemies whereby the name and prerogatives of the same Blessed Virgin are reviled. This last devotion is very similar to our Five First Saturdays devotion.
- What makes this devotion so special?
Without doubt, it is the promise attached to the devotion which makes it so special. This is not an indulgence anymore which is promised, but the Grace of all graces, the promise of Salvation: ‘I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation’. This promise shows the quasi-infinite power granted by the Holy Trinity to Our Lady.
- Has a similar promise ever been granted?
Yes, Our Lord made a similar promise to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the seventeenth century:
I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in 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.
- How can God be making such an offer?
Certainly, the ease of the offer is proportional to the difficulties of today’s circumstances. God knows how difficult it is to save our soul in today’s world, with its apostasy, general corruption and dangerous technology. The poor faithful do not even receive salutary guidance from their pastors. In such circumstances, Our Merciful God offers us eternal salvation, through the hands of His Blessed Mother. Let us especially make sure that our children, who have to live in a world which is becoming worse and worse, may not be deprived of this promise.
- What are the requirements of this devotion?
The five requirements of this devotion are the spirit of reparation, communion, confession, Rosary and a fifteen-minute meditation.
- What is the spirit of reparation?
The spirit of reparation is a desire to make reparation to and console Our Lady for the offenses committed against her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. One should make this intention before carrying out Our Lady’s requests. A renewal of the actual intention at the time is best.
Our Lord explained to Sister Lucy-Mary on 29th May 1930 that the five Saturdays correspond to the five types of offenses and blasphemies committed against Our Lady:
Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception;
Blasphemies against her virginity;
Blasphemies against her divine maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognize her as the Mother of men;
Blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children, indifference or scorn or even hatred of this Immaculate Mother;
Offenses of those who outrage er directly in her holy images.
- What is the Communion of Reparation?
The Communion of Reparation is the essential act of this devotion. It means simply to receive communion with the intention of consoling the Immaculate Heart of Mary. If a just reason prevents the reception of communion on a First Saturday, with the priest’s permission, it may be received the following Sunday.
- Does confession need to take place on the same day?
No, Holy Confession, with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart, can be made eight days before or after the First Saturday, as long as Holy Communion is received in the state of grace.
- What does the recitation of the Rosary entail?
The normal five decades Rosary must be recited : while meditating upon the mysteries of Our Lord and Our Lady. As we say in the prayer after the Rosary, the meditation on the mysteries is what makes the recitation of the Rosary fruitful:
grant we beseech Thee, that, meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise.
- What about the fifteen-minute meditation?
The meditation may embrace one or more mysteries, but Our Lady asked that we meditate on each of the five mysteries at least once during the Five First Saturdays. In a letter written in 1927, Sr. Lucy explained to her mother how to make this meditation:
the fifteen minutes might, I think, give you some trouble, but it is quite easy. Who would have difficulty thinking about the mysteries of the Rosary? To think about the Annunciation of the Angel to Mary and the humility of our dear Mother, who seeing Herself so exalted, calls Herself the Handmaid of the Lord; at the Passion of Jesus, Who suffered so much for our love; and of our Most Holy Mother near to Jesus on Calvary? Who could not spend fifteen minutes in these holy thoughts, before the most tender of mothers?
- What are the other benefits of this devotion?
Besides the great grace of salvation, it is interesting and important to note that this devotion, together with the consecration of Russia by the pope, will lead to the conversion of sinners, peace in the world and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Even if we have done the Five Saturdays ourselves, let us continue to practise this beautiful devotion to console Our Blessed Mother, and hasten the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart. Let us also propagate this devotion widely, and thereby become missionaries of Jesus and Mary.