Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Fatima Devotion of the Five First Saturdays

May 13th, Feast of Our Lady of Fatima
The three children of Fatima – Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta – said that the Blessed Mother came to them as “The Lady of the Rosary”, commanding them and all to pray the Rosary daily for peace in the world. We recall that world peace must surely begin in our own homes and families, hence the family Rosary has a certain pride of place in the devotional life of the people of God – this is why the Church grants a plenary indulgence to any who devoutly recite five decades of the Rosary as a family (with the usual conditions). [please join us in a prayer-campaign for the family Rosary (here), and on Facebook (here)]
In addition to the Rosary, the Five First Saturdays Devotion is closely associated to the message of Fatima. But in what exactly does the first Saturdays devotion consist? How do we complete it?

How to make the Five First Saturdays Devotion
The devotion of the first Saturdays consists in four acts: Confession, Communion, five decades of the Rosary, and fifteen minutes of meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary.
On February 15, 1926, Sr. Lucia was visited by the Child Jesus who greatly encouraged the Five First Saturdays devotion. However, Sr. Lucia explained that many find it very difficult to confess on the first Saturday, and so asked whether it would be permissible for these to confess within at least eight days of the first Saturday.
Our Lord responded: “Yes. It can even be made later on, provided that the souls are in the state of grace when they receive me [in Holy Communion] on the first Saturday, and that they had the intention of making reparation to the Sacred Heart of Mary.”
But Sr. Lucia persisted:“My Jesus! And those who forget to form this intention?”
The Lord: “They can form it at the next confession, taking advantage of their first opportunity to go to confession.”
It is clear that confession need not be made on the very first Saturday itself, nor even (necessarily) within a week – but rather, it is to be made sometime around the first Saturday. This could easily be understood to extend to ten or perhaps even twenty days on either side of the first Saturdays. Surely, however, it is better to confess closer to the first Saturday itself (or at least within the eight days before or after), when possible.
We are to receive Holy Communion with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Further, Communion may be received either the Friday before or (as is more likely) the Sunday following, if it is difficult or impossible to receive Communion on the Saturday itself.
Further, the Saturday Mass need not be a specific Mass for the Saturday Devotion – whether a Funeral Mass, a Wedding Mass, or even a Vigil Mass for the coming Sunday, any Mass at all will suffice. This is to be granted by the dispensation of the local priest, generally Communion on the Saturday itself is to be preferred (but, we re-iterate, this is not an absolute).
Finally, if an individual is unable to attend Mass (due to some serious reason), even Communion outside of Mass will satisfy for the First Saturday Devotion, with the dispensation of the individual’s priest.
The Rosary:
It is required that we pray five decades of the Rosary with devotion [apologies for a typo earlier which said fifteen decades]. This must be done on the First Saturday itself.
However, to be sure, even the greatest saints struggled with distractions in prayer – and St. Louis Marie de Montfort, the “Apostle of the Rosary,” says that this is the most difficult of all prayers. Therefore, we need not become scrupulous or excessively troubled if our Rosary is not perfect. Rather, we strive to make our Rosary a true and worthy expression of love – avoiding distractions as much as possible, but also recognizing that such is the human condition. St. Teresa of Avila gives consoling words regarding distractions in prayer (see the Fourth Mansions of the Interior Castle).
Lastly, we are to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary for an additional fifteen minutes. This could be the devout recitation of another portion of the Rosary, or meditative reading of Scripture which pertains to some of the mysteries of the Rosary, or any other of a number of different forms of prayer.
What is most important is that we set aside this additional time for meditation on the mysteries. It will generally be better to chose one or two mysteries to consider – though, technically, we could meditate on any number of them. Together with our Lady, we consider the love of God made manifest in the mysteries of our Savior’s life, death, and resurrection.
In Sum:
Put simply, the following acts of the Five First Saturdays Devotion are to be completed on the first Saturday of five consecutive months: Confession (about eight days before or after), Communion (between Friday and Sunday, preferably on the Saturday itself), the Rosary (five decades), and an additional fifteen minutes of meditation on one or more of the mysteries of the Rosary.
In reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
All of these acts are to be performed in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, on account of five offenses she suffers (and hence, it is a devotion of FIVE first Saturdays):
1) For blasphemes against her Immaculate Conception
2) For blasphemes against her perpetual virginity (before, during, and after birth)
3) For blasphemes against her Divine Maternity of Jesus and against her spiritual motherhood of all Christians
4) For the neglect of imbuing children with a knowledge and love of the Immaculate Mother of God
5) For offense against statues and images of Mary
The great promise
Our Lady does not promise that all who make the Five First Saturdays Devotion will go to heaven, but rather that they will have all the graces necessary for salvation provided to them at the hour of death. This is a great promise indeed, and at the same time calls to mind that we must co-operate with God’s grace.
We recall what St. Alphonsus regularly emphasized: The grace of final perseverance is not to be considered alone and separate, but rather is rightly thought of as the final grace in a long line of graces throughout many years of life by which God leads a man to salvation.
The grace of practicing the First Saturday devotions is then seen as an important link in this chain of graces which, God willing, culminates for each of us in final perseverance unto eternal life.
Further, our Lord promises that he will bring salvation to many other souls through our practice of this devotion, and also peace to the world.

Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us! Help us to pray the Rosary daily!


Liam Ronan said...

I have undertaken the Five First Saturday Devotion more than once in my life, believing that I had fulfilled the necessary conditions; however, I realize after reading your explanation, Father Ryan, that I never have quite got it right. I have always said the 5-decade Rosary not the 15-decade rosary! All of the other conditions (by the grace of God) I hope I have fulfilled. I'm feeling a bit shattered now. Sort of like sending your Mother a Mother's Day card only to have your brother point out to you that when your Mother opened the card you'd forgotten to sign it.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I'm very sorry! That was a typo! It is now corrected to say "five decades" ... I had written "five" in two other spots, but accidentally said "fifteen" once ... to be clear: It is FIVE decades with an additional FIFTEEN MINUTES of meditation!

Praise God (and his Mother) that you have had this devotion over the years! I'm sure that Mary has always enjoyed your little gift! :-)
Peace and many blessings. +

-- thank you for drawing my attention to the error! :-)

Tom said...

I have 2 questions that are somewhat related to the post. First, when Our Lady requested that we "say the Rosary everyday" when she visited Fatima, did she mean 5 decades or 15. It seems as though for this devotion only 5 are necessary but what exactly was she requesting throughout the apparitions? Secondly, you say that "Our Lady does not promise that all who make the Five First Saturdays Devotion will go to heaven" but we have the graces necessary...could you help me understand what this means exactly. And in the First Fridays Devotion which is similar, Jesus says that He promises final penitence, does that mean that those who practice the FF devotion are garunteed salvation provided that they receive worthily? Does that make the promise of the First Fridays greater than this one?
Any help is greatly appreciated!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Father, for this post. I only wish you had made the post a month earlier! I have the hardest time trying to do this devotion five Saturdays in a row as I attempted to do all the acts on the first Saturday. Now that you have clarified when the acts can be done, I should have no problems....I pray! I'll begin again June 2nd.

Liam Ronan said...

Perhaps you will correct me, Father, if I am mistaken, but I understood that if we unavoidably miss First Saturday attendance at Mass and/or Holy Communion on the day we may, with the permission of our confessor, satisfy the condition(s) on another Saturday of the month. God is both understanding and merciful in all circumstances.

Rose said...

I have fulfilled many first Saturday devotions and the most wonderful things it has done for me is to show me the wisdom of monthly confession and to show me the beauty of the mysteries of the rosary. Now, more than ever, we need to make reparation to the Blessed Heart of Mary.

Anonymous said...

Father, thank you for clarifying that there is some leeway as to the days that one may do different elements of the devotion of the five first Saturdays. I have tried to do this entire devotion on so many different occasions, but something always seeme to intervene to prevent all of the elements from being completed for 5 consecurive months. (I believe Satan really goes out of his way to disrupt Marian devotions.) However, I think Heaven judges our intentions and efforts, not necessarily that we did (or in my case, did not) actually do 100% for the five consecutive months.
I wholeheartedly agree with previous commentators that now more than ever, we really need to make reparation, both to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (esp. for sacrileges committed against the Blessed Sacrament, and for sacrilegious Holy Communions), and also to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

kathleen in Kenya said...

Can we say the luminous rosary or just the joyful sorrowful and glorious?

Ethel said...

Hi Father,

I am new to this and would like to practice the five first saturdays devotion but I would like to know if I have to go for confessions for 5 months consecutively? or is it just the first month?

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Yep, each month confession.

Anonymous said...

I'm still a little confused. Am I correct in saying that one does not need a special dispensation from the local priest to fulfill the communion requirement at the SATURDAY VIGIL MASS.

Anonymous said...

Does the Saturday Vigil Mass fulfill the requirement. I attend this Mass most of the time anyway. It doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice.

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