How Do I Start the First Saturdays?
by Father Tom O'Mahony
(The following article is reproduced with acknowledgement from 'The Remnant' of July 31, 1986.)
On July 13, 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 December 10, 1925, Our Lady did indeed come back. She appeared (with the Child Jesus) to Lucy 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
Lucy once asked this question of Our Lord and received as an answer: "My daughter, the motive is simple, there are five kinds of offenses 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 of those who openly seek to foster in the hearts of children indifference or even hatred for this Immaculate Mother; (5) The offenses 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 offense. By offering the graces received during each First Saturday as reparation for the offense 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 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 of Our Lady, 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 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.
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 Lucy explained the difficulties some experience to confess 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 Lucy.
"Let him make the intention in the next confession, taking the earliest possible opportunity to confess."
The communion of reparation must be sacramental (under one species, or two as in the case of the Oriental Rites), 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 24 hours of the First Saturday. For justifying reasons, approved by a priest, a person may receive the communion the next day, 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 15 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 15 minutes, or on all 15 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 are unable to read could be recommended to spend 15 minutes in recalling to mind all the facts 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. 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 from 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, as said above, have to be done with the intention of offering reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the offenses committed against Her. Everyone who offends Her commits, so to speak, a two-fold offense, for these sins also offend Her Divine Son, Christ, and so endanger our salvation. They give 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 offense against God, but also the effect of sins on human society as well as the need for undoing these social effects even when the offender repents and is converted. Further, this reparation emphasizes 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, and resolve 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 would become devoted to Her Immaculate Heart and persist in practicing such devotion on all First Saturdays, working thereby for personal self-reform and for the salvation of others.
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 practice the Fatima Message. The stakes are so great that to encourage Catholics to practice the devotion of the First Saturdays, Our Lady has assured us that She will obtain salvation for all those who observe the First Saturdays 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.