Here’s What You Need to Know to Start Practicing the Five First Saturdays Devotion
As Catholics we have our own vocabulary. We hear people talking about “devotions” and we may not even really understand what that means. So what is a devotion? A devotion is an expression of love for God which is conveyed through particular actions or prayers. Generally, these actions take on a somewhat standardized practice that can be performed habitually (that is at particular times and in particular ways). While these actions can sometimes seem like a mere routine to an outside observer, the standardization allows us to unite our expressions of love for God with family, friends, and even all members of the universal church.
Devotions come in many forms and can be of great benefit in fostering one’s personal spiritual life. This is because the prayers and actions we perform daily begin to resonate within our souls. They begin to flow out from deep within and harmonize our thoughts and actions with the mind of God.
Devotions can be either public or private. Private devotions are those fostered by individuals for their own spiritual benefit. On the other hand, public devotions are prayers and actions which are communal. They are promoted for the benefit of the masses and help groups of people (whether they be friends, families, or even strangers) share a common spiritual life.
What Happened in Fatima?
One of the greatest miracles in modern times occurred in Portugal in 1917. It was the culmination of a series of appearances by the Blessed Virgin Mary to three children, Jacinto and Francisco Marto, and Lucia dos Santos at Fatima. Over 70,000 people (both believers and non-believers) witnessed the “miracle of the sun” and watched in awe as the sun danced in the sky, spinning like a ball of fire and strewing red flames across the sky. After performing this dance three times, the sun began to tremble and plunge toward the earth in a zig-zag pattern. The whole event lasted approximately 10 minutes after which the sun returned to its normal position.
It is important not to let the message of Fatima be lost by the awe of the miracle of the sun. The Blessed Virgin Mary actually appeared to the children six times revealing many things including the pains that souls suffer in hell and the great wounds Mary’s heart bears as a result of sin. The message is primarily one of prayer in reparation for the sins of the world and specifically wounds caused to the heart of Mary. Moreover, she asked that Russia specifically be consecrated to her immaculate heart and that we dedicate ourselves to praying the rosary.
The Five First Saturdays Devotion
The Five First Saturdays Devotion continues the major theme of the Fatima visitations, namely the need to pray for the expiation of sins that wound the heart of Mary. It arose in 1925 when Mary again appeared to Lucia to deliver the following message,
"See, my daughter, My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ingrates pierce me at every moment with blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, make sure to console me and announce that all those who for five months, on the first Saturdays, go to confession, receive Communion, say five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to Me, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls.
Why Five First Saturdays?
Lucia answered this question in a letter to her confessor in 1930. In her letter, Lucia explains a vision she received from Our Lord Jesus. In this vision, Our Lord Jesus explained the following:
The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are:
1. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
2. Blasphemies against her virginity
3. Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men
4. Instilling, indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children
5. Direct insults against Her sacred images
Drawing Closer to Mary, Our Mother
The message of Fatima presents several key truths. First, it reinforces the power of the rosary in the spiritual life as it speaks of the great triumphs that come through this prayer. While the message of Fatima emphasized the ability of the rosary to bring about the conversion of the world, it also holds this same power in our own lives. Meditating on the mysteries of the rosary has the power to remake us in the image of Christ.
Moreover, it reaffirms the great benefit of drawing close to Mary in our own spiritual lives. Mary as the Mother of God is also our mother. Pope Pius X noted this very fact in his 1904 encyclical "Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum" stating,
"Hence Mary, carrying the Savior within her, may be said to have also carried all those whose life was contained in the life of the Savior. Therefore all we who are united to Christ, and as the Apostle says are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones (Ephes. v., 30), have issued from the womb of Mary like a body united to its head. Hence, though in a spiritual and mystical fashion, we are all children of Mary, and she is Mother of us all. Mother, spiritually indeed, but truly Mother of the members of Christ, who are we.
The specification of five Saturdays by Our Lord Himself to repay for sins against His Mother emphasizes the high regard with which Jesus esteems her and confirms Her motherhood for all believers. Catholics are often criticized for the honors that we give to Mary. However, in esteeming Mary, we are following the example of Christ himself. As we revere Mary we walk in the footsteps of Christ. Mary is our mother and dispenser of the graces Christ merited for us.
In her capacity as our mother, Mary is the most powerful and tender dispenser of grace for which we could hope. Pope Pius X confirmed this when he stated, “Hence it follows, as We have already pointed out, that the Virgin is more powerful than all others as a means for uniting mankind with Christ.”
This truth lies at the heart of the First Saturdays Devotion and serves as a wonderful means of growing closer to our Mother Mary.
If you would like to find out more about Fatima and the First Saturdays Devotion, check out the America Needs Fatima website. You will find many great resources including a longer version of the history of Fatima from which our synopsis was drawn. We sincerely hope this devotion can serve to draw you closer to Mary.