First Saturdays Devotion
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St. Catherine of Siena Receiving the Stigmata
by Domenico Beccafumi, c. 1513-15.
The First Saturdays Devotion (also called the Act of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Blessed Virgin Mary) is a Catholic devotion which, according to Lúcia of Fátima, was requested by the Virgin Mary in an apparition at Pontevedra, Spain in December 1925. This devotion has been approved by the Roman Catholic Church.
The pious practice of honoring the Blessed Mother on Saturday is an ancient custom, derived from the tradition that Jesus appeared to her on Holy Saturday. The liturgical observation of venerating Mary on Saturday is attributed to Mary was largely the Benedictine Alcuin (735-804), "Minister of Education" at the court of Charlemagne, composed a Votive mass formulary for each day of the week. Alcuin he assigned two formularies to Saturday in honor of Our Lady. The practice was quickly embraced by both clergy and laity.
The First Saturdays devotion had already been an established custom in the Catholic Church. On July 1, 1905, Pope Pius X approved and granted indulgences for the practice of the First Saturdays of twelve consecutive months in honor of the Immaculate Conception. This practice greatly resembled the reported request of Mary at the Pontevedra apparitions.
At the age of 14, Lúcia Santos, one of the purported visionaries of Our Lady of Fátima was admitted as a boarder to the school of the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Vilar, near the city of Porto. On October 24, 1925, she entered the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy as a postulant in the convent in Tui, Spain, just across the northern Portuguese border.
Sister Lucia later reported that on December 10,1925, the Virgin Mary appeared to her at the convent in Pontevedra, Spain, and by Her side, elevated on a luminous cloud, was the Child Jesus. According to Lucia, Mary requested the institution of the Devotion of the Five First Saturdays in reparation to her Immaculate Heart.
- Look, my daughter, at my Heart encircled by these thorns with which men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, strive to console me, and so I announce: I promise to assist at the hour of death with the grace necessary for salvation all those who, with the intention of making reparation to me, will, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, say five decades of the beads, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.
Such sorrow is particularly bitterly endured on Holy Saturday after Jesus was placed on the Sepulcher (before the Resurrection on Easter). Devotees of Fátima believe that the First Saturdays help to console the sorrows of God, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary for the sins against Her Immaculate Heart.
The Act of Reparation
When Lúcia Santos experienced the Pontevedra apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she heard her promise to grant great graces, especially at the hour of death, in particular the salvation of the soul, for the believer who for Five Consecutive First Saturdays of Month (5 Saturdays in 5 months) receives Holy Communion and practices the following exercises as an Act of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Queen of Heaven:
- Sacramental confession
The confession can take place within eight days before or even after the Holy Communion is received, but the Holy Communion shall be received with dignity, in a state of Grace, keeping in mind that Jesus is physically present in the Eucharist (Transubstantiation). The Intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary may be kept to oneself; it is not necessary to notify the confessor priest.
- To receive Holy Communion
The Holy Communion has to be received within the 24 hours of the first Saturday of the Month. Attendance to Holy Mass is optional. Receiving Holy Communion as part of this devotion must be consciously intended as an Act of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart. The devotee need not tell anyone else, but keep it in mind. To avoid omitting the Intention every Saturday, the General Intention for the devotion of the Act of Reparation can be mentally or outspokenly stated before starting the First Saturdays (or in between).
If a person has a valid reason not to attend Mass (Masses not available on Saturdays, difficult mobilization, other major event), the devotee may consult a priest about receiving Communion privately or on another day with the intention of making this Communion as part of the devotion.
- A 5 Decades Rosary is recited
The Rosary must also be recited with the intention of making reparation.
A 15 Minute Meditation is made on the Mysteries of the Rosary
This Meditation should also be done in an Act of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Rosary Meditations can be done on all 15 of the mysteries or fewer but must last for 15 minutes. This meditation is in addition to the recitation of the Rosary. It can be done alone or in a group and with or without the aid of sacred scripture.
The activities of the Five First Saturdays devotions are different from similar devotions on other days in that all should be done with the specific intention in the heart of making reparation to the Blessed Mother for blasphemies against her, her name and her holy initiatives.