First off, the practice of the Five First Saturdays is a wider devotion to Christ and His Mother. And it's such a simple devotion. All we need to do is attend Mass on the first Saturday (not Sunday Mass held on Saturday night), go to confession on that day or 8 days prior or after the first Saturday, pray five decades of the rosary, meditate for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the rosary and do this with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which I will explain in a bit.
I am reading a book entitled "The Wonders of Fatima" written by Father Joseph Cacella in 1947. I am going to post some exerpts from this book regarding the First Five Saturdays Devotion.
(From Page 94-98) Mary gave the following message to Lucia, and this message was given an Imprimatur: Santuario de Fatima 21st of Sept 1939 JOSE, Bishop of Leiria:
"Behold my Immaculate Heart encircled with the thorns which ungrateful men thrust therein at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to console me and tell them that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces needed for salvation, whoever, on the First Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess and 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."
Back to the book (page 95)
The conditions of the Great Promise are simple. The devotion is based squarely on the Eucharist, confession and prayer. These conditions are:
1. Confession (sacrament)
2. Communion (sacrament)
3. 5 decades of the rosary (sacramental)
4. 15 minutes of meditation on the mystery of the Rosary (sacramental)
5. Intentions of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart (Her (Mary) own request)
Confession required can be made within the 8 days before or after the First Saturday. The First Friday confession will satisfy the obligation. Of course, this is another problem, how many of our parishes actually have a First Friday devotional Mass? It's about the same as those who do not have the First Saturday devotional Mass. Or maybe we just have to attend Mass on that day, or does the Mass have to be attributed to Mary? I don't know. As for confession, the difference between this confession and others is that it should be accompanied by a spirit of reparation to the Heart of Our Lady. The Bishop of Leiria declared that "should one forget to form the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it may be formed at the next confession, occasion to go to confession being taken at the first opportunity."
Now my question has always been - What is the reparation that Mary is talking about?
THE INTENTION OF MAKING REPARATION
The act of making reparation is merely making pious exercises to the Immaculate Heart. The pious exercises' motive is a sublime one, worthy of the angels. Some of the pious exercises include saying an extra rosary, or praying fifteen decades with meditation to satisfy both requirements of praying the rosary and meditating on the mysteries of our redemption. We can also make the Stations of the Cross with the Sorrowful Mother to console her and to meditate on the fourth sorrowful mystery which is the "Carrying of the Cross". We can attend a sermon on the Rosary, read thoughtfully from a book on the Rosary or meditate on the five sorrowful mysteries while attending morning Mass, provided there IS a morning Mass.The faithful who console the Heart of Our Lady please Jesus, for they participate to some extent in the Passion of Christ Who suffered the more on beholding His Mother's grief.
The practice of dedicating Saturday to Our Lady, is a very ancient and Catholic one. All Saturdays are favorite days for clients of Mary. Their spirit of filial piety and atonement finds its natural expression in attendance at Mass and mortification on that day. The Church, under the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit has richly indulgenced this type of devotion. That the Five Saturday Devotion of Fatima is not novel is obvious from the following decrees of the Holy Office (New Raccolta), page 249, no. 335)
Here are the promises we receive from Mary in regards to praying this devotion.
A. The faithful who on the first Saturday of each month perform some special exercises of devotion in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate in order to make atonement for the blasphemies whereby the name and prerogatives of the same Blessed Virgin are reviled, may gain: A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions. (S.C. Holy Office, June 13, 1912.
Note: I find it interesting that this was put out on the same day of the month as Mary appeared to the children 5 years later in 1917.).
B. Those who once in their lifetime perform such a devout exercise on the first Saturdays of eight successive months may gain, without prejudice to the above plenary indulgence: A plenary indulgence at the hour of death, if, after confession and Communion, or at least being truly contrite, they invoke with their lips, if possible, otherwise in their hearts, the most Holy Name of Jesus, and accept death with resignation from the Hand of God as the due punishment of their sins. (Benedict XV, Rescript in his own hand, November the 9th, 1920, exhib Nov. 17, 1920).
FATIMA AND CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART
"I ask the consecration of the world to my Immaculate Heart."
Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady repeated several times to the children of Fatima her desire that the entire world be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. Unassuming and humble as Our Lady is, hiding always in the shadow of her beloved Son, she made it clear that this consecration was the desire of God Himself. Mary strongly affirmed that the afflictions being visited upon the world were the punishment of sin and that God's wrath would be greatly placated by the act of consecration. Recording Mary's words in a letter of March 19, 1939, Sister Lucy wrote: "On the practice of this devotion together with the consecration to my Immaculate Heart depends either war or peace for the world.
Is that the answer then? The practice of this devotion is required of all Catholics together with the consecration to the Immaculate Heart if we are going to have war or peace? So why aren't a lot of Catholics doing this? Maybe people don't even know about it. Again, I don't know.
There have been numerous consecrations done, not always by a pope, but by Bishops, since this apparition. At least two popes have attempted to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary before it was finally done correctly by Pope John Paul II in 1984.
First, on the 13th of May, 1931, a grateful Portugal made a national pilgrimage to the site of Our Lady's apparitions. Hundreds of thousands of the faithful participated. The nation was solemnly consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the words of the consecration being transmitted to the people thorough loudspeakers. Our Lady was invoked as Queen of the Rosary, of Dolors, and of Carmel. The thirteen bishops present, clad in cope and mitre, elevated their hands and voices in unison to impart the Pontifical blessing.
May 13, 1938, the ceremony was repeated. Rumors of war were rife in Europe and the faithful of Portugal turned to their heavenly Protectress with greater fervor than ever. The bishops had consecrated their respective dioceses to the Immaculate Heart and vowed to make this solemn pilgrimage with their flocks. A record number of faithful were present. The terrible war raged in almost every corner of the globe, but Portugal continued to enjoy the blessing of peace and the special protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The first consecration of the world by a pope took place October 31, 1942 by Pope Pius XII just before major turning points in World War II, but he did it alone and not with all the Bishops in the world, as requested by Mary. The Pope consecrated to Mary not only the Church but the whole human race, as "Father of Christianity" as representative of Christ, who has all power in heaven and on earth. Pope Pius called for a prayer crusade to the Queen of Peace, because he felt that only she could help the world, which was then at the height of war in Europe and the Pacific. Pope Pius also dedicated the whole human race and especially Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But this apparently wasn't done correctly, according to Sister Lucia.
And in 1964, Pope Paul VI renewed Pius XII's consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, but again this pope did it alone. Sister Lucia continued to insist that it had to be collegial (with the Bishops).
After Pope John Paul II was shot in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981, he began requesting and studying more deeply the documents related to Fatima. His determination to consecrate Russia with the bishops of the world became stronger. He remarked that he had come to understand that the only way to save the world from war, to save it from atheism, was the conversion of Russia according to the message of Fatima. I always thought it was to be done for Russia so that they would not continue to spread their errors around the world.
Pope John Paul's first attempt happened on May 12-13, 1982, when the Pope visited Fatima to thank Mary for sparing his life. He did conduct a consecration of the world and Russia, but many bishops did not receive the request to join him in time and Sister Lucia said it did not fulfill all the requirements.
So in 1984, Pope John Paul II sent invitations to the world's bishops, including Orthodox, to join him on March 25, 1984 for the Collegial Consecration of the world and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He was joined by a moral totality of the world's bishops in the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart. Shortly thereafter, Sister Lucia told the Papal Nuncio of Lisbon the Collegial Consecration for the conversion of Russia had been accomplished and God will keep His word. The Nuncio answered: 'Now we await the miracle'.
So, finally, after nearly 70 years of waiting for this to happen, the world and Russia were finally and properly consecrated to our Blessed Mother as she requested in 1917. In 1989, the collapse of communism occurred in Russia, the wall came down in East Berlin, and it did seem as though the world was in peace. But then came 9/11 - Sept. 11, 2001 and the subsequent war the United States was fighting with Afghanistan and Iraq. So what has happened?
It is my opinion that it is now up to the people of the world, the Catholics of the world if no one else wants to join us, to now do as Our Lady requested - spread the devotion of the the first Saturdays and practice the devotion, and convince our priests and bishops that these things need to be done if we are ever to achieve peace in our world. We need to do this before things get out of hand, as it seems to be happening now. How long can our prayers appease God when there is so much sin in this world? All of mankind needs to turn from their sin. This has always been God's will and we need to do it. But first we need to convince our parishes to begin holding Mass on the first Saturdays of each month IF the Saturday evening Masses for Sunday do not count, and I'm not sure about it. If we do this, I believe the Triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart will finally happen. When that day comes, we are assured there will be peace in our world.
Click this link to find the text of the consecration to the Immaculate Heart.
Jacinta, Lucia and Francisco
The Children of Fatima
The Children of Fatima