THE FIRST SATURDAY DEVOTION
Prof. Michael Ogunu
Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, Nigeria
On July 13, 1917, Our Lady appeared for the third time to the three children of Fatima and showed them the vision of hell. She said: “You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go; to save them, God wishes to establish devotion to My Immaculate Heart in the world. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace”.
Eight years later, on Dec 10, 1925, Our Lady came back with Child Jesus in the Convent of the Dorothean Sisters in Pontevedra, Spain. The Child Jesus spoke first: “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”.
Our Lady then said to Lucia, “Look, my daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful people pierce me every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me and say that I promise to assist those at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation who, on the 1) First Saturday of five consecutive months 2) Go to confession and 3) Receive Holy Communion 4) Recite five decades of the Rosary and keep company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, 5) With the intention of making reparation to me.
In March 1939, Our Lord appeared to Lucia, “Ask, ask again, insistently for the promulgation of the Communion of Reparation in honour of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the First Saturdays. The time is coming when the vigour of my justice will punish the crimes of diverse nations”.
Why should it be Five Saturdays and not eight or seven in honour of the sorrows of Our Lady? The following was revealed to Sr. Lucia while staying in the chapel with Our Lord, part of the night between 29th and 30th of May 1930: “My daughter, there are 5 ways in which people offend and blaspheme against the Immaculate Heart of Mary: 1) The blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception 2) Against her Virginity 3) Against the Divine Maternity 4) Those who try publicly to implant in the children’s hearts, indifference, contempt and even hatred against this Immaculate Mother and 5) Those who insult her directly in her sacred statues.
Our Lord added later: “Here, my daughter is the motive why the Immaculate Heart of Mary made me ask for this little act of reparation and due to it, move my Mercy to forgive, those souls who had the misfortune of offending her”.
Prior to this, on June 13, 1912, Pope Pius X gave a plenary indulgence to the faithful who performed “some special exercises of devotion on the First Saturday of the month in reparation to the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate.
On Nov 17, 1920, Pope Benedict XV gave a plenary indulgence at the hour of death to those “who once in their lifetime performed such a devotion exercise on the First Saturday of eight consecutive months”.
This devotion was also approved by the Bishop of Leiria, H. E. Mgr. José Alves Correia da Silva, on September 13, 1939, in Fátima.
The devotion of the Five First Saturdays of Reparation requested by Our Lady of Fatima carries with it the promise by Our Lady that she will assist us at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for salvation. It is important that the devotion be properly understood and duly performed. The requirements for each of five consecutive first Saturdays stipulated by Our Lady are: (1) Confession; (2) Communion; (3) recitation of the rosary and (4) keeping Our Lady company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary. All of these things should be done with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Confession may be made on the First Saturday itself or some days before or after the First Saturday. During an apparition of the child Jesus to her on February 15, 1926, Sister Lucia presented the difficulty some persons had in going to Confession on Saturdays, and asked if the Confession for the devotion could be valid within eight days. Jesus answered, “Yes. It can even be within many more days, provided that when they receive Me, they are in the state of grace and have the intention of offering reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary”. She then asked, “My Jesus, what about those who forget about forming such an intention?” Jesus answered, “They can form it in the following Confession at their first opportunity of receiving the Sacrament of Penance”.
The Communion of reparation must be sacramental (a spiritual Communion does not satisfy this condition) and must be made within the twenty-four hours of the First Saturday.
The intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the 5 Saturdays devotion can be made silently in the case of private acts or vocally expressed in case of public or group observance as follows: “O Blessed Virgin Mary, Immaculate Mother of God, I/We wish to go to Confession, receive holy Communion, say the Rosary and keep you company for fifteen minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary for the sole intention of making reparation to your Immaculate Heart”. The intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary can also be made just before the performance of each of the requirements. According to Sister Lucia, the fifteen-minute meditation and the Rosary recitation are two distinct requirements of the devotion. She has advocated that they be performed separately. Our Lady asks us to keep her company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary.
In making the First Saturday devotion, one should guard against the sin of presumption. If anyone were to make the five first Saturdays of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with the secret intention of making sure of their salvation while continuing to sin grievously, he would manifest attachment to sin by this evil intention. Therefore, all his confessions and communions would be sacrilegious and instead of assuring him gaining heaven would serve to bring him down to hell.
The Blessed Virgin Mary promised the benefits of her Great Promise of eternal salvation only to those who fulfill the requirements with the right dispositions.
The five First Saturdays of Reparation have been given to us as a remedy for evil. If we fulfil this request for reparation with the right disposition, we may expect the fruition of Our Lady's promises: the salvation of sinners, Our Lady’s assistance with all the graces necessary for salvation at the hour of death, and an era of peace for mankind.
Let us imitate the wonderful example set by the beloved Pope Saint John Paul II, who practiced this devotion during his pontificate and broadcasted it through Vatican Radio to the world, meditating himself the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Copyright © Professor Michael Ogunu 2015
Version: 28th April 2015