The 5 First Saturdays to The Immaculate Heart of Mary
The devotion involves the following practices on five consecutive first Saturdays of the month, with the specific intention of making reparation for the five gravest offenses of man against the Blessed Virgin.
- Go to Confession (within 8 days before the first Saturday)
- Receive the Holy Eucharist
- Pray five decades of the Rosary
- Keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on fifteen mysteries of the Rosary."
This is separate from praying the Rosary as mentioned above, and is preferably done in the presence of the Lord in the Tabernacle or at Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament where available. Many also say the Litany of Loreto, also known as the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Why Five Saturdays?
Christians have always honored the Blessed Virgin on Saturday because of her constant faith in Jesus on that first Holy Saturday before the Resurrection. Five first Saturdays of reparation were requested to atone for the five ways in which people offend the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
- Attacks upon Mary's Immaculate Conception
- Attacks against Mary's Perpetual Virginity
- Attacks upon her Divine Maternity and the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all mankind
- Those who try to publicly implant in children's hearts indifference, comtempt and even hatred of this Immaculate Mother
- Those who insult her directly by profaning her sacred images.
A Solemn Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Holy Virgin Mary, tender Mother of men, to fulfill the desires of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the request of the Vicar of Your Son on earth, we consecrate ourselves and our families to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, O Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and we recommend to You, all the people of our country and all the world. Please accept our consecration, dearest Mother, and use us as You wish to accomplish Your designs in the world. O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and Queen of the World, rule over us, together with the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, Our King. Save us from the spreading flood of modern paganism; kindle in our hearts and homes the love of purity, the practice of a virtuous life, an ardent zeal for souls, and a desire to pray the Rosary more faithfully. We come with confidence to You, O Throne of Grace and Mother of Fair Love. Inflame us with the same Divine Fire which has inflamed Your own Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Make our hearts and homes Your shrine, and through us, make the Heart of Jesus, together with your rule, triumph in every heart and home. Amen.
The Great Promise of the Five First Saturdays
The promise made by Our Lady to Lucia on July 13th, 1917, that there would be a future manifestation concerning the practice of the Five First Saturdays, was fulfilled on December 10th, 1925. Lucia was then a Postulant Sister in the Dorothean Convent at Tuy, Spain. On this occasion Our Lady appeared together with the Child Jesus, Who spoke first to Lucia:
Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns which ungrateful men place therein at every moment, while there is no one who does an act of reparation to withdraw them for her.
Our Lady then addressed Lucia as follows:
Behold, my daughter, my Heart encircled with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. Give me consolation, you, at least; and make known on my behalf that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all who on the First Saturday of five consecutive months confess their sins, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to my Immaculate Heart."
Before studying the actual words of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s message, we should note that for many centuries Holy Mother Church has consecrated Saturday to Our Lady in a special manner, with a view towards intensifying the devotion of the faithful for the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, and our most loving Mother. Many devout people were accustomed to consecrate the first Saturdays of each month to Our Lady for this very intention, of making reparation for the blasphemies and outrages against authentic Marian devotion, not only by sinners, but also by those heretics who attacked her prerogatives. Pope St. Pius X, on June 12th, 1905, issued a decree in which he praised this practice and offered generous indulgences for it.
That same year, in the month of November, the Holy Father again blessed and indulgenced the traditional practice of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretians) and of the Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to dedicate the first Saturdays of the months to the practice of this devotion with the purpose of making reparation to her Immaculate Heart.
Just as at Lourdes, the Blessed Virgin Mary confirmed the Holy Father's solemn definition of her Immaculate Conception (by telling little Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception"); now, at Fatima, Our Lady again lent the influence of her maternal authority and dignity to the commendation of this devotion, by specifying five consecutive First Saturdays, and enriching the practice with her promise of the graces necessary for salvation.
Ultimately, it is God Himself Who is offended by every sin. For this reason it is God, likewise, Who is the ultimate object of every act of Christian reparation. This is clear from all the manifestations of Fatima, and in a very concrete fashion in the apparition of July 13th, 1917. But let us add, nevertheless, that one will not properly understand the "Heavenly Message of Fatima," in this essential point of the spirit of reparation, unless the meaning be extended to include also a direct reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Indeed, it is Our Lord Himself Who tells us this: "Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother."
The Graces Necessary for Salvation
To those who practice the devotion of the First Saturdays in reparation, Our Lady promises her assistance at the hour of death "with the graces necessary for salvation" —she does not promise them eternal salvation itself, but the heavenly graces necessary for salvation. It is not exactly the same thing, for such a promise would not be consistent with authentic Christian teaching. The lure of presumptuous devotion to Our Lady has deceived many, but a presumptuous devotion is a false devotion. But as to that which the Blessed Virgin does promise— is not the special assistance of Our Lady's grace a good reason for firm hope and trust that we shall, in the solemn hour upon which our eternity depends, have responded to the call of grace, and will die with sentiments of true contrition for our sins?
We read in the lives of those especially devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary that they frequently experience at that time an awareness from Heaven that the hour of their parting is near. It is not precisely an announcement of death, but a new and gentle preoccupation with a more frequent and worthy reception of the Sacraments, with a greater purity of intention in all one’s actions, and an intensification of one’s charity and dedication to the apostolate of Our Lady. The Immaculate Heart of Mary kindly goes about perfecting the souls of her children for their decisive encounter with our Divine Savior.
A Helpful Guide to the First Saturday Devotion
In order to obtain the promise of Our Lady, this devotion must be properly understood and duly performed. The requirements stipulated by Our Lady are as follows:
(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 these practices on the First Saturday of five consecutive months.
A confession of reparation means that the confession should not only be a worthy confession (valid and licit), but also be offered in the spirit of reparation, in this case, to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. There is no need to formulate this offering in words, nor is there any need to inform one’s confessor; but the intention to offer it in reparation must be made at least before receiving absolution; it also may be made when going to confession or even when deciding to go a few days earlier.
This confession may be made on the First Saturday itself, or eight days before or after the First Saturday, and it also may be associated with another devotion. Thus the confession made in connection with First Friday devotion may likewise be offered in reparation to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart in connection with the First Saturday devotion. The doubts that had risen in Sister Lucia's mind on this matter were resolved by the Child Jesus in His apparition to her of Feb. 15, 1926. She explained to Him the difficulties some experience in getting to confession on Saturdays, and asked whether confession made within the preceding eight days would suffice, the Child Jesus replied:
"Yes, the confession could precede, even for a longer period of time, provided when they receive Me, they be in the state of grace, and the confession is made with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of My Mother."
But if the person forgets to make the intention of reparation at that confession?" asked Lucia. Our Lord told her, "Let him make the intention in the next confession, taking the earliest possible opportunity to confess."
2. Holy Communion
The Communion of reparation must be sacramental (actual reception of the sacred Species), 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 twenty-four hours of the First Saturday. For good reason, approved by our Pastor, we may receive the Communion on 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 "terzo", 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. It is customary on Saturdays to meditate on the Glorious Mysteries, but there is nothing to prevent one from meditating on either the Joyful or Sorrowful Mysteries. In our apostolate it is customary (but not obligatory) to arrange the meditations as follows:
- Joyful Mysteries: First Saturdays of December, January, February, and July
- Sorrowful Mysteries: First Saturdays of March, April, and September
- Glorious Mysteries: First Saturdays of May, June, August, October, and Novem
But the important thing is to say the Rosary well by doing one’s best to be attentive and to meditate on the Mystery as we offer each decade. As in the other cases, one should make the intention to offer the Rosary in reparation to the Immaculate Heart at least at the beginning of the Rosary.
4. Meditation for Fifteen Minutes
This meditation on one or more Mysteries of the Rosary is to be made without simultaneous recitation of the decade of Hail Mary's. As indicated above, 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, meditation on the Mysteries of a five decade Rosary, which can be made before each decade, spending three minutes or more in considering the mystery of that particular decade. This latter is the custom in our own apostolate.
This meditation, likewise, has to be made in the spirit of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and a mere intention suffices. But we should take care to truly meditate. Meditation consists in thinking over the events as if we were actually present at the scenes mentioned in the Mystery, or in considering what we would have done had we been present. Finally, meditation concludes with a determination or resolution of some sort to amend our life, according to the lesson taught in the Mystery, in our behavior at home, at work, in our dealings with others, etc.
Many find it difficult to meditate because they have never made the attempt to do so. But a start could be made by using holy pictures depicting the 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 counseled to spend fifteen minutes in recalling to mind all that they know about the Birth, Infancy and Childhood 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 Ghost and its effects upon the Apostles and the world. Consider also the life of Our Lady from Pentecost until her death and her glorious 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.
There have been many apparitions of Our Lady, but those at Fatima are the first where meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary is specifically requested. It is obvious that this request is to teach us how to recite the Rosary properly, and to derive many aids for the amendment of our lives and for our sanctification. If many do not say the Rosary properly, or consider themselves incapable of doing so, it is because they are unfamiliar with the events connected with each of the Mysteries, and their immense significance to each of us. This fifteen minute meditation, as requested by Our Lady, will help us to concentrate on each of the Gospel scenes in the Mystery, and to recall to mind the lessons they contain. What a beautiful, simple way to grow in our knowledge, love, and service of God!
5. The Spirit of Reparation
All these acts, as said above, must be done with the intention of offering reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the offenses committed against her. Every one who offends her, commits, so to speak, a two-fold offense, for these sins also offend her Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and so endanger our salvation. They give bad example to others and weaken the strength of society to withstand immoral onslaughts. The acts of our devotions, therefore, force us to consider not only the enormity of the offense against God, but also the effect of sins on human society, as well as the critical need for undoing these social evils, even if the offender repents and is converted. Further, this reparation emphasizes our enormous responsibility towards sinners who, by themselves, will not pray and make reparation for their sins. In the words of Our Lady so well remembered by little Jacinta, "So many, many souls go to Hell, because there is no one to pray and sacrifice for them!"
In short, this devotion brings before us our obligations to our neighbor, and reminds us that a true love of God overflows into a genuine love of our neighbor, above all by endeavoring to help him save his soul. An excellent way of doing this is through the example of our own spirit of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our living and effective devotion to Our Lady leads us to elevate our moral and religious standards, and so works to raise the standards of the family, community, and country in which we live.
There are some who worry because, although they try to observe the Five First Saturdays in accordance with the request of Our Lady of Fatima, they forget to make the intention of reparation in due time for confession, Holy Communion, meditation, or recitation of the Rosary. But this difficulty may be overcome by making a resolution at the very beginning when one deciding to observe the First Saturdays for the next five months. Simply make the resolution that all the spiritual exercises connected with the First Saturdays will be offered in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. As long as this intention is not withdrawn, it would remain effective, even though at the moment of the exercise one does not consciously recall his motive of making reparation.
6. Five Consecutive First Saturdays
The idea of the Five First Saturdays is obviously to make us persevere in these devotional acts for this period of time, and to overcome the initial obstacles. Once this is done, Our Lady knows that the person will—if he faithfully cooperates with her grace—become attracted to her pure and Immaculate Heart, and persevere in practicing such devotion on all First Saturdays, laboring thereby at his own personal sanctification, and for the salvation of others.
If mankind does not repent and return to God; if Catholics continue to fail "to amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins"; if the true consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary does not became a way of life for many— if Our Lady's requests continue to be rejected, the future course of mankind appears grim: Russia will not be converted. The Islamic movement will solidify its alliance with the Communists, in Russia, China, North Korea, Africa, Indonesia and many other countries throughout the world. And the wars ensuing from this new and deadly peril will continue to be a punishment for the multitude of sins against God. Their anti-Christ errors which emanated from Russia in the last century "will continue to spread, promoting wars and persecutions against the Church", and engulfing the world in an inferno of Luciferian triumph. Not the least of these evils will be the vast number of souls who depart from this hedonistic world in the state of mortal sin, and are lost for all eternity in the flames of Hell.
The only means of preventing these tragedies is to respond to the gentle but urgent pleas of our loving Mother at Fatima. The stakes are so high at this perilous moment of history, that one would think every good Catholic would take seriously the devotion of the Five First Saturdays, and practice it fervently. For Our Lady has assured us that she will obtain the graces of salvation for all those who observe the First Saturdays for five consecutive months in accordance with her conditions.
At the supreme moment in its existence, the departing soul will either be 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 strengthen him to resist whatever temptations the Devil might lay before him in his last furious attempts to rob him of the mantle of grace. If he is not in the state of grace, Our Lady will provide him with the graces necessary to repent in a manner pleasing to God—an act which is rarely sincere at that frightful moment, with the abyss of Hell yawning below, and the stupors of death laying fixing their mortal grip on his bodily senses.
Although it is not impossible that such a soul be saved at that eleventh hour, it is much more likely that those who sincerely apply themselves to the devotion of the Five First Saturdays, and persevere in making their devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary a way of life, will thus be living in a habitual state of grace. This is consistent with the warning of Christ, "As you live, so shall you die." For such blessed souls, their First Saturday devotion, and their consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, will be the happy means by which they fall among the number of the elect—those who actually benefit by the fruits of the Redemption and are saved.