“Incline your ear and come to me: hear and your soul shall live…Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found: call upon him, while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unjust man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God: for he is bountiful to forgive. For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.”
“If thou hadst known, in this thy day, even thou, the things that are for thy peace! But now they are hidden from thy eyes. For days will come upon thee when thy enemies will throw up a rampart about thee, and surround thee and shut thee in on every side, and will dash thee to the ground and thy children within thee, and will not leave in thee one stone upon another, because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.”
“Oh! If the world only knew what a moment of grace was granted to it and did penance!”
—Sr. Lucia to the Bishop of Leira, speaking of the lack of response to Our Lady’s requests at Fatima, 1940.
What is it that Our Lady asked of the Pope at Fatima? For the Pope to promote peace talks with the Russians? Bring the world’s religions together? Some heroic act beyond the grasp of men? No. She asks something simple. A five-minute prayer, along with all the Catholic Bishops of the World. Consecrating Russia to her Immaculate Heart. In addition to this, she asks him to officially exhort, as Universal Shepherd of his flock, to promulgate officially the Devotion of Five First Saturdays.
That’s it. Simple, isn’t it?
What does Our Blessed Mother ask of us? Does she ask the impossible? Does she ask us to petition, demonstrate or run for City Council, legislature, the Congress to support various causes? Anything particularly heroic? No. Just the ordinary actions of what would be, in normal times, an ordinary Catholic. Do your daily duty. Pray the Rosary daily. Wear the Brown Scapular as a sign of Consecration. Do the First Saturdays for five consecutive months: Rosary, Confession, Communion, and fifteen minutes of meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary. That’s it. Isn’t that simple?
Through Sr. Lucia, the Blessed Virgin Mary has exhorted us over, and over, and over again. And to what end? As in the times of Noah, the world does not listen but descends from depravity to depravity.
In this article, we will discuss the practice of the Five First Saturdays—a practice which Our Lady links to the Consecration of Russia as a condition for World Peace, God’s favor upon the world, and most importantly the salvation of countless souls. “Most importantly” because salvation is forever. Whatever calamities befall is in this world, great as they are, will end. But our indescribable joy in Heaven, or unbelievable misery in Hell—these will never end.
The devotion of the Five First Saturdays, like the Fatima message itself, is about three things: Reparation, the salvation of souls, and the loss and eventual restoration of peace in hearts and peace in the world. These themes are constant throughout the First Saturday Devotion, and we will speak of them here.
First, what exactly is the First Saturday Devotion and how do we fulfill Our Blessed Mother’s demands?
The first mention of the First Saturday Devotion at Fatima comes from Our Lady on July 13, 1917, during the third apparition at Fatima, Portugal. Our Lady had already shown the children a terrifying Vision of Hell. She said that, to save poor sinners from hell, God wishes to establish devotion in the world to her Immaculate Heart. She then warned that if men did not cease in offending God, a worse war would break out during the reign of Pius XI (the name of the pope was itself a prophecy), and she foretold others signs (a night lit by a strange and unknown light, hunger, and persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father). She then said:
“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.
“If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.
“In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she will be converted, and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world.”
She mentions here the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. The details, as She promised at this time, would come later. Note well, that Our Lady mentions both the Consecration of Russia and the First Saturday devotion as the two conditions for the conversion of Russia, world peace ushered in by the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. This merits further consideration.
It is a common misconception that prayer changes God’s mind. God does not change. In God’s eternal decree, He desires to give us certain blessings, but under certain conditions which He sets, in a degree often known only to Him. On the condition of human cooperation, God gives us many incredible blessings. His entry into the world at the Incarnation, according to His inscrutable and Eternal Decree, He made dependent on human cooperation: namely, the “yes” of the Virgin of Nazareth at the request of His Angel Gabriel. God required the response: “Be it done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38), for the wonderful gift to be realized: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)
Likewise, when St. Monica asked for the conversion of her son, God willed from all eternity to grant this wish, but in accordance with the cooperation of St. Monica whose pleadings to Almighty God, He found so pleasing that He made her son one of the greatest theologians the world has ever known, the great St. Augustine. In the Holy Mass, this human participation in the Redemption—required by Divine Providence in His Eternal Decree—is represented by the small drops of water added to the Chalice, which along with the Wine is turned into the Precious Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. St. Paul tells us “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church.” (Col. 1:24)
So it is that right order in the world depends upon the cooperation of mankind. There is, in a real sense, a scale of balance which God uses to dispense His gifts. One one side is the grace He desires to give us: the Incarnation of God made Man, or the conversion of a loved one, for instance. This is why there are various reasons why the Popes have not consecrated Russia, why Russia is not converted and why there is no world peace. There were (and remain) various human, political reasons that various popes considered, perhaps faith in the words of Our Lady wavered in their hearts. But there was also a supernatural reason: a lack of grace because not enough people listened to the Message of Fatima, not enough people are making reparation and not enough people are faithfully observing the Practice of First Saturday.
At Fatima, Our Lady reveals to us that God wishes to give us salvation, the conversion of Russia and world peace by our correspondence with His commands: for the Faithful, that is the performance of the Five First Saturdays, for the Hierarchy, it is the proper promulgation of the Five First Saturdays and the Consecration of Russia by the Pope along with the Catholic Bishops, publicly, one one particular day. It is a matter of record. Jesus and Mary spoke of it clearly, which was transmitted by Sr. Lucia, and reiterated by the same Sr. Lucia time and time again. There is not, nor should there be, any controversy about it. The wishes of Almighty God in this case are clear.
Heaven’s Formal Command for the Five First Saturdays of Reparation
On December 10, 1925, the Most Holy Virgin, as promised, appeared to Sr. Lucia By Her side, elevated on a luminous cloud, was the Child Jesus. The Most Holy Virgin rested Her hand on Lucia’s shoulder, and as She did so, She showed her a heart encircled by thorns, which She was holding in Her other hand.
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.”
The first thing that astounds us, if we let it sink in, is the urgency with which this petition to mankind through Sr. Lucia takes place. Sin must be an awful thing! Our Lord, Jesus Christ, comes Himself to demand reparation to this best of Mothers who has loved us so deeply as to offer in sacrifice her Son for our salvation, a Mother who is solicitous for our salvation and every need—only to be met by ingratitude on the part of men.
Our sins are represented in this vision by thorns. In representations of Our Lady of Sorrows, her Immaculate Heart is pierced through by a sword at the sufferings she suffered for our redemption in union with her Son. At Fatima, her Heart is shown to us pierced with innumerable thorns we have put there with our sin! It demands reparation.
The second thing that causes us wonder is the generosity of Heaven in offering us the great gift of Eternal Salvation for such a small act. This shows us that the least effort on our part done with sincerity and love is met by a torrent of graces from the hand of God. The promises of the assistance of the most beautiful, loving Virgin Mary at death to ensure our eternal happiness, to ensure our union with her, and with Almighty God—
Thirdly, we see the love of Jesus and Mary. We witness the love He holds for His Mother. He is the good Son who protects the honor of His Mother. We see the Mother, her magnificent Heart bruised in compassion for the wounds of her Divine Son, and solicitous for our salvation, wishing to give her Son what He desires most: the union of our souls forever with Him in Heaven.
Our Lady places her hand on the shoulder of Sr. Lucia. It is a message of tender love—
The Confession of the Five First Saturdays
On February 15, 1926, as Sr. Lucia was doing her tasks, emptying a garbage can outside the garden, a Child approached her. The First Saturday Devotion was already established in the Church in various forms, but not in the way the Virgin requested. Our Lady came to give Heaven’s explicit approval of the devotion and to perfect it. He came to exhort Sr. Lucia and the Mother Superior of her order to push forward with the promotion of the Devotion. We quote the account of Sr. Lucia:
“I found a child there who seemed to be the same one as before, and I asked him: ‘Did you ask our Heavenly Mother for the Child Jesus?’ The child turned to me and said: ‘And you, have you revealed to the world what the Heavenly Mother asked you?’ And, having said that, he turned into a resplendent child…
“It is true, My daughter, that many souls begin [the practice of the First Saturdays] but few persevere to the very end, and those who persevere do it to receive the graces promised. The souls who make the five First Saturdays, with fervour and to make reparation to the Heart of your Heavenly Mother, please Me more than those who make fifteen, but are lukewarm and indifferent.”
—“My Jesus! Many souls find it difficult to confess on Saturday. Will You allow a confession within eight days to be valid?”
“Yes. It can even be made later on, provided that the souls are in the state of grace when they receive Me on the first Saturday, and that they had the intention of making reparation to the Sacred Heart of Mary.”
—“My Jesus! And those who forget to form this intention?”
“They can form it at the next confession, taking advantage of their first opportunity to go to confession.”
Lucia then commented, “Right after that He disappeared, without me finding out anything more about Heaven’s desires, up to the present.”
Once again, we see the Divine Mercy with which Our Lord approaches us. The previous manifestations given to us by the Popes, including the great St. Pius X, included a greater number of Saturdays needed. In Heaven’s request, we see a great precision. The interior intention of the request takes precedence. Our Lord tells Lucia that many do not persevere and do not have the most pleasing disposition. God would prefer that we perform a few prayers more devoutly, with more love and devotion, in a heartfelt spirit of reparation, rather than many prayers done simply to gain a reward and with less devotion. If one cannot go to confession on the First Saturday itself, Our Lord concedes that such a soul, as long as he receives Communion in the state of grace with devotion and in a spirit of reparation, He allows confession within eight days to be satisfactory, even later if they take the first opportunity to go to confession.
At another time, Our Lord would appear yet again and, in His Mercy, offer the promise of the First Saturday to those who, with good reason, could not attend Mass and receive Communion on the First Saturday to receive on Sunday with the permission of any priest in good standing.
So, we see that the merciful God has sent His Mother to us with an incredible promise: the promise of eternal salvation for the act of consoling His Mother’s Heart. We see that the Great Physician gives us a remedy in our souls that includes the Sacraments: Communion and Confession, mental prayer and the Rosary, and the value of Reparation, keeping our Mother company for an additional 15 minutes while meditating on the Rosary Mysteries. These are all exercises which, when practiced regularly give us peace, joy, the forgiveness of sins, holiness and an eternity of joy ever after.
In the next installment, we will go into greater depth into the mysteries surrounding the great First Saturday devotion, the remedy for the sickness of sin.