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Would you like to practice a devotion that is a true-win-win on so many levels? It is known as the First Saturday Devotion, also called the Five First Saturdays Devotion. Its requirements are very simple and yet they can have a profound impact on your spiritual life. This devotion is one of reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
It goes back in part to the third apparition Our Lady of Fatima gave on July 13th 1917 to the three Fatima Visionaries, including Lucia dos Santos when, after having shown them a terrifying glimpse of hell she told them:
“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... I shall come to ask for the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays of the month”
Lucia, after she became a nun, later wrote the following account (illustrated above) in following up on this devotion, referring to herself in the third person: “On December 10, 1925, the Most Holy Virgin appeared to Lucia, and by Her side, elevated on a luminous cloud, was the Child Jesus…She [that is Mary] showed her [Lucia] a Heart encircled by thorns."
At the same time, the Child said: ‘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 Holy 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 announce in my name that I promise to assist at the moment of death, with all 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 fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making Reparation to me.’
Jesus Himself later revealed to Sister Lucia on the night of May 29-30, 1930 the reason for their being five Saturdays of reparation. He told her “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 Perpetual Virginity.
3: Blasphemies against Her Divine Maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognize Her as the Mother of men.
4. The blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children indifference or scorn, or even hatred of this Immaculate Mother.
5. The offenses of those who outrage Her directly in Her holy images.
“Here, My daughter, is the reason why the Immaculate Heart of Mary inspired Me to ask for this little act of Reparation.”
Clearly Jesus was showing Sister Lucia, and by extension all of us as well, His immense love for His Blessed Mother!
You may well notice how spiritually nourishing the First Saturday devotion is right away! In practicing it you make reparation to Mary in her Immaculate Heart and partake of the two essential sacraments in our faith, the Eucharist and Penance. And you can “bond” with her in the 15 minute meditation, as well as in praying the Rosary. (Note that the 15 minute meditation is in addition to not instead of praying the Rosary that day.)
We need to practice the devotion on five consecutive First Saturdays. If you miss one, by all means start fresh the following month, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep to a schedule on this. This checklist might be helpful.
Here is a summary of the four requirements for this devotion, as mentioned earlier in Sister Lucia’s account. These should all be done with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
First: Receive communion on that Saturday. Our Lord told Sister Lucy during the night of May 29-30, 1930 in answer to the question concerning those who did not have Mass in their parish on Saturdays that, as he put it: “The practice of this devotion will be equally acceptable on the Sunday following the first Saturday when My priests, for a just cause, allow it to souls.”
(When in doubt check with your priest or bishop on this. Fathers Richard Heilman and John Zuhlsdorf, both very solid priests, say that communion within 24 hours of the first Saturday will suffice. To me it shows our Lord’s mercy at work here, as in the second requirement, which follows.)
Second: Go to confession on that Saturday, although this can be done either 8 days before or afterwards. If for some reason this is not possible you can go to confession even beyond those 8 days afterwards, but you should go as soon as possible.
On February 15, 1926, when appearing before Sister Lucia the Child Jesus, told her that confession could be made beyond this time frame as long as souls were in a state of grace when receiving Him in communion on the First Saturday, and that they had the intention of making Reparation to His Mother’s Immaculate Heart.
If they forgot that intention, they could make it at their next confession at the earliest opportunity. You should go at least once a month in any case.
Third: Recite 5 decades of the Holy Rosary.
Fourth: Last, but by no means least, keep Our Lady company for 15 minutes while meditating on one or more mysteries of the Rosary (this being separate from your praying the actual prayer). You can do those 15 minutes covering any or all of the Rosary mysteries. It’s a great way to give our Lady some love and comfort as well!
In this regard, I think of what Mary told Sister Lucy, as mentioned above: “you at least try to console me.” Think of this yourself as you meditate with our Blessed Mother in this devotion. She herself could use consolation from us all, especially nowadays. We’ve seen her weeping for us “Banished Children of Eve” (as we say in the Hail Holy Queen) in the Apparitions at La Salette, France in 1846 and Akita, Japan in the 1970’s.
It’s as if she is saying to us, in a warning especially applicable nowadays in this age of schism in the church and increasing paganism, division, and violence in society at large, “Will you people please listen to me, obey, and love my Son?”
The image mentioned earlier of our Blessed Mother’s heart encircled by thorns brings to mind another tragic one, that of our Sorrowful Mother’s heart pierced with seven swords, for the Seven Sorrows Mary suffered during her Divine’s Son’s earthly ministry, and more specifically in His Passion and Death.
You may recall that Simeon, described in Scripture as being “just and devout” (Luke 2:25) informed our Lady when she and St. Joseph presented the infant Jesus in the Temple fulfilling the Mosaic Law requirements, that as he put it quite memorably, both for her, no doubt and for us as well, that “thy own soul a sword shall pierce” (Luke 2:35).
In all this it is important, if not crucial to remember that we do not worship Mary in our prayers and devotions to her. But rather we honor her in love and gratitude for being our Spiritual Mother par excellence, always lovingly ready and willing to assist us with receiving the Divine graces we need for our salvation.
Sadly, many non-Catholic Christians still feel somewhat uncomfortable when Mary is mentioned. Some in the multitude of different Christian denominations we see today even look upon our prayers to her as being somehow idolatrous, when nothing could be farther from the truth! Marian devotion is intrinsically Christian. The bond and love between the Blessed Mother and her Divine Son are that strong and that close!!
We pray to Mary for her intercession on our behalf to her Divine Son. She in no way has meant to compete with Jesus for His love for us. After all, what are her last words in Scripture? “Do whatever He [that is, Jesus] tells you” (John 2:5).
Keep in mind again how great it is to have a devotion in which we can comfort our Lord’s mother and strengthen ourselves spiritually so much at the same time! You can’t get a better reinforcement of the Armor of God St. Paul spoke in Chapter 6 of his letter to the Ephesians than this powerful combination of the Eucharist, Penance and the Rosary, the prayer St. Padre Pio once referred to as his weapon! And notice the great mercy of our Lord in allowing us extra time to complete this devotion in Confession!
Once you’ve completed the Five First Saturdays you can also continue this devotion on subsequent Saturdays as well. Think of this as a way of getting an important monthly spiritual “tune-up”, as Father Donald Calloway once referred to it. I’ve found it great for keeping to a regular confession schedule!
And time spent with our Mother in meditation on the Rosary is also a great way to practice Mental Prayer as well! And don't think that she will ever be too busy for you to keep her company or that somehow it’s a bother. It's quite the opposite, in fact!
If more people took the time to spend with our Lady in prayer, and of course with her Divine Son in Eucharistic Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament for example, we would have far less trouble in the world in these days!
Both our Lord and our Lady will be grateful for your fervent practicing of the Five First Saturdays. Your loving devotion to this devotion can help save souls and give you graces from our Blessed Mother. And the First Saturday Devotion is needed now more than ever!