What occurred at Fatima in 1917 is one of the most momentous events in salvation history.
It’s momentous not only because of its great apocalyptic conclusion—the Miracle of the Sun—which was witnessed by over 70,000 people, but also because of its grave warnings.
No one can rightfully dismiss the Marian apparition, especially considering what unfolded during the 20th century and what continues to unfold in our own 21st century. What what Our Lady of Fatima warned us of in 1917 has taken place.
We see time continue to march on and we witness the world continue down a dangerous road away from God.
There is no doubt that we are living in uncertain times and that there is much confusion in the world. And yet problems in the world are often reflected in the Church. A recent survey revealed that a large percentage of those who attend Mass and receive Holy Communion do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—in the Holy Eucharist.
Granted, it’s unlikely due to these Catholics’ own determined disbelief, and more likely due to the fact that they have never been properly taught, since good catechesis is lacking in so many places. This lack of belief can be disastrous for the Church. The flow of grace and truth from the Holy Eucharist has an effect not only on the Catholic Church but on the whole world.
When Our Lady appeared to the three young children at Fatima in Portugal, she brought a message of love and peace to the world. Not just for the world at that time, but for all of us living today, as well.
And yes, that message is for you and for me.
Realigning Our Lives
Living our faith, loving God and our neighbor, growing in humility, and making acts of penance and sacrifice out of love for Him; this is how we live the Christian faith, and this is what Our Lady is pointing us to at Fatima.Fatima: The True Story
Mary calls us to devotion to her Immaculate Heart, to conversion, and to reparation for sins against her own Heart and that of her Son. She asked us to live a life in harmony with the will of God, and to have a generous, Christ-like self-gift for the salvation of others.
This call is more urgent now than it ever was. Why? Because now is the time we find ourselves in!
But how do we live out this call of God and the Blessed Mother?
Firstly, we must listen to what Our Lady is telling us…and then apply it. That means conversion: conversion of our lives, of our minds, and of our hearts to the will of God.
This message of conversion is no less than the message of the Gospel. Mary is putting it in very simple terms for us. In short, to live the Fatima message brings us back to the first and greatest commandments as described by Jesus in the Gospels: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Fatima: The True Story
The truth is that everything in our lives, every part of us, must be reprioritized and redirected towards this end—which is to cooperate with Our Lord as He works to continually increase charity in us over the course of our lives. When we stray off this path, our Blessed Mother comes to lead us back to her Son, as she has done for us at Fatima.
In each of the Fatima apparitions, Mary asked us to pray the Rosary. Therefore the Rosary stands out as a powerful weapon and a precious gift in directing our lives towards Jesus. It’s clear that Mary is telling us that its daily recitation will draw us closer to Our Lord through the sacred Mysteries we reflect upon. It will invoke the protection of the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary which the world (and each of us in particular) so desperately needs.
So, Our Lady made very clear requests at Fatima.
Are we actually heeding them?
Are We Truly Committed to the Rosary?
First, we can ask ourselves: “Am I praying the Rosary as Mary asked me to?”
During her apparitions at Fatima, Lourdes, and many other places, the Blessed Mother asked us to pray the Rosary with our families.
In my own life, the answer to this question is not always a consistent one. Although praying the Rosary (either by myself or with my family) has been an ongoing commitment, it’s also one that I have to recommit to whenever I realize I have drifted from this spiritual habit.
In fact, just a few weeks ago for a Lenten resolution, I recommitted myself and my family to praying the Rosary at night because we had not been consistent. For me this is part of that constant realignment of my life and my heart to the will of God.
If you are already in the habit of praying the Rosary regularly, keep up the devotion. If you are like me and need to realign yourself to this wonderful gift of prayer that Our Lady asks of us, then recommit to it now!
There are other things—besides the leading of good lives and the recitation of the Holy Rosary—that Mary requested at Fatima.
The first was the consecration of Russia and the second was the First Saturday Devotion.
As the laity, we cannot make or ensure or guarantee that the Consecration of Russia take place successfully—that is up to the pope. Many popes have attempted to heed Our Lady’s request, with Pope Francis being the most recent.
But, as the laity, there is one request of Mary that we can all participate in: the First Saturday Devotion.
When and How Did Our Lady Request the First Saturday Devotion?
It is helpful to recall what Our Blessed Mother said about this at Fatima. On the 13th of July, 1917, Our Lady appeared to Lúcia, Jacinta, and Francisco (as she had done on the previous two months on that same day). They were permitted to see a vision of hell and then given an urgent request.
These are Sr. Lúcia’s words about the second part of that apparition:
As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were the demons and souls in human form, like the transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves with great clouds of smoke now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.
Terrified and as if to plead for succour, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly:
“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by and unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.
“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
We hear Mary tell the children in this apparition that she will come to ask for the consecration of Russia and for devotion to her Immaculate Heart through the First Saturday Devotion. In 1984 Saint Pope John Paul II consecrated Russia in St. Peter’s Square. And we know that Pope Francis recently consecrated both Russia and Ukraine to Mary. Although we don’t have time now to dig into these acts of consecration, ascertaining the validity of either consecration is not something that we as lay people should be stumped over.
But there is something that we can do: the Five First Saturday’s Devotion.
How To Do the First Saturday Devotion
What are the requirements for the First Saturday Devotion, as given by Our Lady?
One must, with the intention of making reparation for the five great blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, do the following:
- Go to Mass on five consecutive First Saturdays of the month
- Go to confession within eight days (longer if needed, so long as your soul is in a state of grace and your intention is to make the proper reparation) of that First Saturday
- Pray the Rosary on that day
- Meditate for fifteen minutes on any Mystery of the Rosary on that day
Why five Saturdays, and what are the five blasphemies against Our Lady?
Sister Lúcia discerned that there are five first Saturdays in particular in reparation for these five great blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
• Disbelief in her Immaculate Conception
• Disbelief in her Perpetual Virginity
• Disbelief in her Divine Maternity
• Taking devotion to her from the hearts of the young
• Desecrating her shrine and images
The Blessings of This Devotion
I have known many Catholics who have participated in the First Saturday Devotion and who have attested to its importance in their lives and to the edifying nature of the devotion.
At the same time as Our Lady asked for the consecration of Russia, she asked for the first Saturday devotion on five consecutive first Saturdays. She called for us to attend Mass, to go to confession, to pray the rosary, and to meditate for 15 minutes on the mysteries while keeping Our Lady company.
Although I had heard of the First Saturday Devotion, I had never committed myself or my family to doing it. But a few incidents in my life encouraged me to consider making this devotion a part of my own experience.
I recently re-read the Good Catholic series on Fatima and while I was in the process of reviewing it, a friend (out of the blue) asked if I might join her in doing the First Saturday Devotion. Not long after that, I received a book about the Devotion from another friend. All of this happened within a few weeks. Since I am a big believer in the guiding Hand of Providence, I couldn’t help but recognize the providential nature of these occurrences in my life!
At the start of this blog post I mentioned the confusing times that we live in. Certainly prayer is of the utmost importance as it always has been. These are also times for deepening our devotion to Jesus and Our Blessed Mother.
The beautiful thing about the First Saturday Devotion (besides the fact that Mary asked us to take part in it) is that it involves both prayer and sacrifice. Not only are we called to the most profound prayer of the Eucharist and to praying the Rosary, we are also called in some way to sacrifice our time.
I know that in my own life Saturdays have always been full of activities for the kids. To make time for Saturday Mass and confession even just once a month can be a sacrifice (Sr. Lúcia asked Mary if confession could be done within two weeks of First Saturday Mass and she said yes).
I have asked friends of mine who take part in the First Saturday devotion about this sacrifice and they acknowledge that yes, it is a sacrifice—but they have all told me that it has been one of the greatest of blessings in their lives.
Perhaps the best motivation we have for making the First Saturdays Devotion is from Mary herself.
Our Lady appeared to Sr. Lúcia asking for the Five First Saturdays in reparation for the sins against her Immaculate Heart and told her:
“Look, my daughter, 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.”The Blessed Mother
At Fatima, Our Lady emphasized reparation more than anything else in the practice of devotion to her Immaculate Heart.
That is what the First Saturdays devotion is all about:
The First Saturdays devotion represents the most complete practice of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. No other form of reparation can even begin to compare with the Communion of Reparation other than the Sacrifice of the Mass. The First Saturdays devotion includes the Communion of Reparation together with the other supporting practices, on the day that honors Our Lady. These other supporting practices, which are Confession, the Rosary, and the separate and additional meditation in Our Lady’s company for 15 minutes, each in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, are meant to dispose the faithful to receive Holy Communion more fruitfully.Conditions of the First Saturdays
Jesus came to us from the Father through one who could worthily receive Him: an Immaculate Virgin. Jesus came through the faith and free consent of Mary. Mary consented on our behalf. She is the way to travel to Him. She wishes to join us to her Son, for through the Son, we come to the Father.
Just as she interceded at the wedding feast at Cana, Mary intercedes for us.
Have you participated in the First Saturdays devotion?
If not, perhaps you will consider this special devotion which many say “has been designed by Heaven.”
Let us remember that Our Lady has asked us to do our part in fulfilling her request through this powerful devotional practice.