On 13 July 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 10 December 1925, Our Lady did indeed come back. She appeared (with the Child Jesus) to Lucia in her convent. 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
Lucia once asked this question of Our Lord and received as an answer: “My daughter, the motive is simple, there are five kinds of offences 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 in the hearts of those who openly seek to foster in the hearts of children indifference or even hatred for this Immaculate Mother
(5) the offences of those who outrage Her in Holy Images.”
What do I have to do?
The devotion of the First Saturdays, as requested by Our Lady, carries with it the assurance of salvation. However, to derive profit from such a great promise, the devotion must be properly understood and duly performed. The requirements as stipulated by Our Lady are:
(3) Five decades of the Rosary
(4) Meditation on one or more of the Rosary mysteries for fifteen minutes
(5) To do these things in the spirit of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart.
(6) To observe these practices on the First Saturday of five consecutive months.
(1) Confession: A reparative Confession means that the Confession should not only be good 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 Lucia explained the difficulties some experience in confessing 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.”
(2) Communion: The Communion of reparation must be sacramental, 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 twenty-four hours of the First Saturday.
(3) The Rosary: Once again 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 fifteen minutes, or on all fifteen 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 time in considering the mystery of the particular decade. This meditation has to be made in the spirit of reparation to the Immaculate Heart. This may be spent in recalling to mind all the facts that 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 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.
(5) The spirit of Reparation: All these acts have to be done with the intention of offering reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the offences committed against Her. Everyone who offends Her commits, so to speak, a two-fold offence, for these sins also offend her Divine Son, Christ, and so endanger our salvation. They give a 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 offence against God, but also the effects of sin on human society as well as the need for undoing these social effects even when the offender repents and is converted. Further, this reparation emphasises our responsibility toward sinners who, themselves, will not pray and make reparation for their sins.
(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 will become devoted to Her Immaculate Heart and persist in practising such devotion on all First Saturdays, working thereby for personal self-reform and for the salvation of others.