On 13 July 1917, Our Lady appeared for the third time to the three children of Fatima and showed them the vision of hell and made the now famous thirteen prophecies. In this vision Our Lady said that “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to Her Immaculate Heart and that She would come to ask for the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.”
Eight years later, on 10 December 1925, Our Lady did indeed come back. She appeared (with the Child Jesus) to Lucia in the convent of the Dorothean Sisters in Pontevedra. The Child Jesus spoke first: “Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, which is covered with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment while there is no one to remove them with an Act of Reparation.”
The Great Promise
Our Lady then said: “My daughter, look at my heart surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it 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 all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the First Saturday of five consecutive months go to Confession and receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making Reparation to Me.”
Why are there five First Saturdays and not seven, or nine?
The Five Reasons
Lucia once asked this question of Our Lord and received as an answer: “My daughter, the motive is simple, there are five kinds of offences and blasphemies uttered against the Immaculate Heart of Mary: (1) blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception (2) blasphemies against Her Virginity (3) blasphemies against Her Divine Maternity (4) blasphemies in the hearts of those who openly seek to foster in the hearts of children indifference or even hatred for this Immaculate Mother (5) the offences of those who directly outrage Her in Her Holy Images.”
From the above, it is easy to see that each of the Five Saturdays can correspond to a specific offence. By offering the graces received during each First Saturday as reparation for the offence being prayed for, the participant can hope to help remove the thorns from Our Lady’s Heart.
What do I have to do?
The devotion of the First Saturdays, as requested by Our Lady of Fatima, carries with it the assurance of salvation. However, to derive profit from such a great promise, the devotion must be properly understood and duly performed. The requirements as stipulated by Our Lady are as follows: (1) Confession (2) Communion (3) Five decades of the Rosary (4) Meditation on one or more of the Rosary mysteries for fifteen minutes (5) To do all of these things in the spirit of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and (6) To observe all these practices on the First Saturday of five consecutive months.
(1) Confession: A reparative confession means that the confession should not only be good (valid and licit), but also be offered in the spirit of reparation, in this case to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.
This confession may be made on the First Saturday itself or some days before or after the First Saturday.
Thus, when Lucia explained the difficulties some experience in confessing on Saturdays and asked whether confession made within the preceding octave would suffice, the Child Jesus replied: “Yes, the confession could precede, even for a longer period, provided when they receive Me, they be in the state of grace, and the confession is made with the intention of making the Reparation to My Mother’s Immaculate Heart.”
“But if the person forgets to make the reparation intention at the confession?” asked Lucia.
“Let him make the intention in the next confession, taking the earliest possible opportunity to confess.” (2) Communion: The communion of reparation must be sacramental, duly received with the intention of making reparation. This offering, like the confession, is an interior act and so no external action to express the intention is needed. The Communion must be made within the twenty-four hours of the First Saturday. For justifying reasons, approved by a priest, a person may receive the Communion on the Sunday following the First Saturday (a concession granted by the Child Jesus Himself).
(3) The Rosary: The Rosary mentioned here was indicated by the Portuguese word ‘terco’ which is commonly employed to denote a Rosary of five decades, since it forms a third of the full Rosary of fifteen decades. This too must be recited in the spirit of reparation.
(4) Meditation for fifteen minutes: Here the meditation on one mystery or more is to be made without simultaneous recitation of the Rosary decade. As indicated, the meditation may be either on one mystery alone for fifteen minutes, or on all fifteen mysteries, spending about one minute on each mystery, or again, on two or more mysteries during the period. This can also be made before each decade, spending three minutes or more in considering the mystery of the particular decade. This meditation has likewise to be made in the spirit of reparation to the Immaculate Heart.
Many find it difficult to meditate because they have not made any attempt before. But a start could be made by using pictures depicting different mysteries, or by reading slowly and devoutly appropriate meditations prepared for our use, or even by reading the Gospel narratives containing the mysteries, with or without commentaries. Those who do not wish to read could be recommended to spend fifteen minutes in recalling to mind all the facts that they know about the Birth, Infancy, and Youth of Jesus (Joyful Mysteries); about the sufferings of Jesus represented in Lent, Holy Week and the Stations of the Cross (Sorrowful Mysteries); and about Easter, the Ascension, the Coming of the Holy Spirit and its effects on the Apostles and the world (Glorious Mysteries). Consider, besides, the life of Our Lady from Pentecost until Her death and Her Assumption into Heaven, where She exercises Her privilege as the Mother of God in order to obtain from Her Divine Son graces for Her children on earth, even coming down bodily to earth at times in order to warn us of the great dangers ahead and to give us timely aid to combat them.
(5) The spirit of Reparation: All these acts have to be done with the intention of offering reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the offences committed against Her. Everyone who offends Her commits, so to speak, a two-fold offence, for these sins also offend her Divine Son, Christ, and so endanger our salvation. They give a bad example to others and weaken the strength of society to withstand immoral onslaughts. Such devotions therefore make us consider not only the enormity of the offence against God, but also the effects of sin on human society as well as the need for undoing these social effects even when the offender repents and is converted. Further, this reparation emphasises our responsibility toward sinners who, themselves, will not pray and make reparation for their sins.
There are many who seem to be worried because, though they try to observe the Five First Saturdays in accordance with the request of Our Lady of Fatima, they fail to remember to make the intention of Reparation in due time for Confession, Communion, meditation or the Rosary recitation. But this difficulty may be overcome by making a resolution at the very start when one decides to observe the First Saturdays for the next five consecutive months, that all the acts or devotions connected with them will be offered in reparation to the Immaculate Heart.
(6) Five consecutive First Saturdays: The idea of the Five First Saturdays is obviously to make us persevere in the devotional acts for these Saturdays and overcome initial difficulties. Once this is done, Our Lady knows that the person will become devoted to Her Immaculate Heart and persist in practising such devotion on all First Saturdays, working thereby for personal self-reform and for the salvation of others.
Conversion of Russia
Unless Russia is converted, the movement against God and for sin will continue to spread, promoting wars and persecutions, and making the attainment of peace and justice impossible for this world. One means of obtaining Russia’s conversion is to practise the Fatima Message. The stakes are so great that to encourage Catholics to practise the devotion of the First Saturdays, Our Lady has assured us that She will obtain salvation for all those who observe them for five consecutive months in accordance with Her conditions.
At the supreme moment, the departing person will be either in the state of grace or not. In either case Our Lady will be by his side. If in the state of grace, She will console and help him to resist whatever temptations the devil might put before him in his last attempt to take the person with him to hell. If not in the state of grace, Our Lady will help the person to repent in a manner agreeable to God and so benefit by the fruits of redemption and be saved.
Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
O Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Heaven and earth and tender Mother of men, in fulfilment of thy ardent wish, I consecrate to thee myself, my brethren, my country and the whole human race. Reign over us and teach us how to make the Heart of Jesus reign and triumph in us and around us, as it has reigned and triumphed in thee. Reign over us dearest Mother, that we may be thine in prosperity and in adversity, in joy and in sorrow, in health and in sickness, in life and in death. O most compassionate Heart of Mary, Queen of Virgins, watch over our minds and hearts and preserve us from the sins of impurity which thou dost so sorrowfully lament. We wish to be pure like thee and to atone for the many crimes committed against Jesus and thee. We desire to call down upon our country and the whole human race the peace of God in justice and in charity.
Therefore we now promise to imitate they virtues by living as true Christians without regard to human respect. We resolve to receive Holy Communion on the First Saturday of every month and to offer thee five decades of the Rosary each day together with our sacrifices in the spirit of reparation and penance. Amen.
Acknowledgement: The Remnant, 31 July 1986.
[Taken from the Latin Mass Society's May 2005 Newsletter.]