John C. Preiss
For centuries, in the spiritual life of the Church, Saturdays have been a special day to honor the Mother of God. Votive Masses in honor of Our Blessed Mother are frequently offered on Saturdays if no special liturgical feast of the Church prevents it. When Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima requested the First Saturday devotions, in choosing this day, Our Mother was simply respecting what was already a tradition in the Church. Invoking the Mother of God by honoring her and invoking her protection in a special way on First Saturdays predates Fatima.
It is important that Catholics appreciate the importance and spiritual power of the four acts of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on First Saturdays. In this article we shall see that doubtlessly sufficient numbers participated in the First Saturdays of reparation to enable Pope John Paul II to be able, after more than five decades, to conduct the Collegial Consecration with the Bishops of the World. This was needed to halt persecutions of people and the Church, disturbances to the faith stemming from “the errors of Russia, etc. What was requested of the Pope and bishops has been accomplished. They have done what Our Lady requested of them.
Unfortunately a large percentage of Catholics still ignore the First Saturdays of reparation. They have not carried out the requests made of the faithful for that day especially dedicated by the Church to Mary.
The Church is Christ’s Mystical Body and heaven respects what is recognized by the Church upon earth. While the Rosary and the special devotions of First Saturdays are not strictly speaking the divine liturgy of the Church, they are certainly related to the liturgy, lead to it, and depend upon it. [See article in this issue, Origin, Purpose and Power of the Rosary].
What is the divine liturgy? The liturgy is the official public worship of the Church and is distinguished from private devotion. Liturgy is a special title for the Holy Eucharist and the administration of the sacraments. The Liturgy of the Sacraments of Eucharist and Penance (Reconciliation or Confession) were requested by Our Lady for First Saturdays.
After beautiful instructions on the liturgy the Second Vatican Council said: “The sacred liturgy does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church. Before men can come to the liturgy they must be called to faith and to conversion.” This is exactly what the Mother of the Church did at Fatima.
Fatima is for faith and for conversion of sinners as emphasized in the total message of Fatima which was given for the entire world. The golden ball at Our Lady’s waist symbolized a message for the world. Our sacrifices of reparation on First Saturdays will aid in conversions and bringing souls to union with Jesus Christ and also help restore Christian Unity.
Angel of the Eucharist Appeared First
The Angel of the Holy Eucharist appeared in 1916 to the three Fatima children. It was the year before the six apparitions of the Mother of God. The angel’s message was for faith and conversion. It required sacrifice and Eucharistic reparation.
Then the Mother of God, appeared for the first time on May 13, 1917 which was the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Eucharist. Our heavenly Mother also called for faith, conversion and union with her divine Incarnate Son through the Sacraments. In her first appearance she led the children to the Blessed Trinity through the Holy Eucharist. The present and past Bishops of Fatima said that the relevancy of Fatima extends into the Third Millennium. Pope John Paul II said, “Fatima is more relevant today than ever.”
Pope John Paul II Consecrates Third Millennium
In giving his schedule for the Year 2000 A.D. October 7, Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and the First Saturday, would be celebrated with a special recitation of the Rosary and torchlight procession. On the following day, a Sunday, October 8, in conjunction with the Jubilee of Bishops on the occasion of the 10 Ordinary General Assembly of the World Synod of Bishops, the Holy Father at St. Peter’s Basilica would conduct the Act of dedicating the New Millennium to the protection of Mary. Consecrating the Third Millennium to the Immaculate Heart of Mary before the Miraculous Statue of Our Lady of Fatima on October 8, 2000 AD would be a renewal of the Act of Collegial Consecration that took place in 1984.
Back in the year 1984, March 24 and 25, the Catholic bishops of the world, and also the Orthodox bishops were invited to join the Pope in the Act of Consecration of the world, and Russia in particular, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A moral totality of the world’s bishops did join the Pope in that Consecration. The miraculous statue of Our Lady of Fatima was brought from Fatima to the Vatican for the 1984 Consecration, It will be brought again for October 7-8, 2000 AD Consecration of the Millennium. Normally the statue rests on the exact spot where the Mother of God stood when she appeared each month in 1917 at Fatima, May 13 to October 13.
His Holiness, Pope John Paul II and the Bishop of Fatima, as well as Sister Lucia herself, all were able to say that the Collegial Consecration required for the Russia was accomplished with the Collegial Consecration of March 25, 1984. Sister Lucia is the sole survivor of the three little shepherd children who saw our Lady at Fatima in 1917. Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta received a message concerning the future of the Church and the world which was approved by the Church, May 13, 1930.
Jacinta and Francisco were beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 9, 2000 A.D. at Rome. Conducting their beatification in Rome, rather than in the Cova da Iria at Fatima, gave added universal significance to the event and meaning of Fatima. Jacinta and Francisco, who died at the ages of nine and eleven, as foretold by Our Lady, are the youngest non-martyred souls beatified. They are spiritual models for children. Sister Lucia, who has remained upon earth to see the beginning of the Third Millennium, was promised by the Mother of God in 1917 that she would live many years upon earth to spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We see in her early letters her intense desire for people to learn about and perform the requests of the First Saturdays so desired by our Lord.
For many years Sister Lucia has lived as a contemplative Carmelite nun in the Monastery of St. Theresa in Coimbra, Portugal. First Saturdays have remained very important to her.
First Saturdays important for the Universal Church
The Mother of God revealed to Lucia, one of the three little shepherds of Fatima, on December 10, 1925, when she was still a Dorothean Religious in Pontevedra, that she would intercede for a happy death for all those who made at least five first Saturdays. We shall see that Our Lady did not restrict her request to “five” First Saturdays. Also they do not concern only the promise to intercede for our personal desire to die in the state of grace. The request for First Saturday acts of reparation has as its ultimate purpose reparation concerns for the whole Church.
The Vicar of Christ, Pope John Paul II, manifested the importance he attached to First Saturdays when on March 3, 1979 he began the practice of reciting the Rosary on the Vatican Radio for the First Saturday of every month.
Our Lady used these words regarding the First Saturdays: “I promise to assist at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for salvation all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, go to Confession and receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for a quarter of an our while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.”
We should study this promise of Our Lady in the context of the fuller message of Fatima, just as we should interpret words of Sacred Scripture, not in isolation, but as part of the whole of the Bible.
Bishop Alberto Amaral, while administrator of Leiria-Fatima said: “Fatima is Trinitarian, Christological, Ecclesial, Contemplative and Marian.” This means our main concern should be far greater than looking out simply for our own salvation. We have already noted that the day Our Lady chose for special reparation was First Saturday which was already in harmony with an ancient practice of the Church. The Holy Spirit lives and works in the Church. And Fatima was an explosion of the supernatural.
Saturday Masses have long been offered in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a case of earthly liturgy being a foretaste of heavenly liturgy. What we do on earth in the Church prepares us for the eternal liturgy which shall be ours in heaven. Our Lady attached the promise of intercession for eternal life for each individual who sincerely made at least five consecutive First Saturdays. But such was never the primary purpose for heaven’s request for First Saturdays of reparation. The message of Our Lady of Fatima is directed to the whole Church. Our purpose in this article is also to demonstrate that First Saturdays are not intended as magical or any short cut to heaven.
We know that the reception of Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) are two requirements for First Saturday devotions. We should normally not receive Holy Communion apart from the Liturgy of the Eucharist which perpetuates the Sacrifice of the Cross. The normal and most proper way to receive Holy Communion is in the context of participating fully in the Mass. Going to Confession is part of the liturgy of the administration of the Sacraments. Our Lady in her First Saturday requests was calling Catholics back to frequent Confession, a minimum of once monthly. Pope John Paul II also did this in his talks preparing for the Third Millennium.
The Church teaches that the Holy Eucharist is necessary for salvation. We can see then why the Church could approve of the message of Fatima as being in harmony with the Gospel. “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day….” (John 6:55-56).
The Fatima message calls us to union with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, to repentance through Sacramental Reconciliation and meditation on the chief mysteries of our salvation, which comprise the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.
“Have pity on the Heart of your Mother”
Immediately before giving the promise of intercession for us at the hour of death with graces necessary for salvation, Our Mother revealed her sorrowful Heart. Whereas at Lourdes Our Lady smiled frequently she smiled but once at Fatima when she told the children, “God is pleased with your sacrifices.” At Fatima Our Lady appeared sorrowful but pleasant.
It is to be noted that the Child Jesus was by Mary’s side on December 10, 1925 when she revealed her sorrowful Heart and asked for First Saturdays. This brings out Mary’s role as our Mother for it was that same Child who as the universal Savior died on the Cross as Man with His Mother beneath the Cross and said, “Behold your Mother.” Jesus wants us to always look to Mary as our Mother too.
Both Mother and Child were “elevated on a cloud of light.” Then Mary reveals the profound intimacy as Mother she desires with each one by resting one of her hands on Lucia’s shoulder, “while in the other hand she held a Heart surrounded with sharp thorns.” At the same time the Child Jesus spoke:
“Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother. It is covered with the thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to remove them with an act of reparation.”
Then Our Lady said to Lucia:
“My daughter, look at my Heart surrounded with the thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to console me. …”
It was at that moment Our Mother asked for at least five First Saturdays to assure a happy death.
Convent Chapel of Sisters of St. Dorothy in Pontevedra, Spain where Sister Lucia had vision as indicated on the cover of this issue. Editor is kneeling at spot where Sister Lucia was kneeling at the time of the apparition of the Blessed Trinity which called for the Collegial Consecration of Russia.
Why Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
Why reparation to Mary? Mary asks that the First Saturdays be in reparation to her? Is not reparation due only to God? Primarily yes, but not only. Every sin is social we are taught by the Church and Scripture itself. The entire Mystical Body, the Church, suffers from the sin of its members. When people sin it is against the Head and the members. “God has tempered the body together ….that there might be no schism in the body; but the members might be mutually careful one for another. And if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it; if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member. 1 Cor. 12:25-27
Jesus is the Head of the Mystical Body and Mary is the Mother. We are the members. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are inseparable. Since all the members suffer from one sinful member, the Head and Mother suffer most. If sin causes all the members to suffer, how much more Mary suffers when her children sin. Mary was conceived without sin, full of grace. She is our Mother in the order of grace. Thus the most Holy One after Jesus feels pain in her Heart at the sight of sin. She is concerned about the salvation of all the members.
In the temple at the presentation Simeon taking the Child into his arms foretold about the sufferings of the Mother of the Child Jesus. “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35). Who pierced the Heart of Mary but we sinners? Do we not owe her the reparation she requested in asking for the First Saturdays? The sword that pierced the Heart of Jesus pierced her sinless Heart as well.
While sin causes the entire Church to suffer, Jesus and Mary in particular, we should remember that our reparation acts of prayer and the Sacraments associated with the First Saturdays helps the glory of entire Church. The members are to “… be mutually careful one for one another … if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member.’ (1 Cor. 12:25-27). This means making the First Saturdays strengthens all the members of the universal Church, not simply oneself.
How intent the Child Jesus was that His Mother’s request for First Saturdays of reparation to her Immaculate Heart be granted.
On February 15, 1926, a little more than two months after the request of December 10, 1925, the Child Jesus again appeared to Lucia, asking her if she had spread this devotion of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of His Holy Mother. When Lucia told the Child Jesus of the difficulties pointed out by her confessor, and though the Mother Superior strongly desired to propagate the devotion, her confessor also warned her that she could do nothing by herself alone. Our Lord replied:
“It is true that your superior alone can do nothing, but with my grace she can do all.” This is reminiscent of St. Paul who had admitted, “Without him I can do nothing” but “I can do all things in him who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).
At the same time our Lord told Lucia that if one cannot get to Confession exactly on First Saturday – that so long as one is in the state of grace when Holy Communion is received and has the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it suffices to go to Confession within eight days or even more time if necessary.
The late Bishop John Venancio, who took the famous Fatima secret to Rome for 1960, summarized the Fatima message for me this way: “The Fatima message is reparation, reparation, reparation and especially Eucharistic reparation.” The Mass itself is the infinite act of reparation to God the Father for the sins of humanity as it perpetuates the Sacrifice of the Cross. The Holy Eucharist was shown as Sacrifice, as well as Sacrament, already in 1916 at Fatima when the Angel gave Holy Communion to the three little shepherd children.
What is Eucharistic Reparation?
The angel held in his hands a chalice surmounted by a host from which some drops of blood were falling into the chalice. The shedding of blood from the Body of Christ into the chalice is reminiscent of Jesus Christ shedding His precious Blood in sacrifice upon the Cross. The Angel then left the chalice and host suspended in the air, prostrated himself on the ground before the Eucharist teaching the children Eucharistic reparation as he said:
“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly. I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.”
Then rising, the Angel took the chalice and the host. He gave the host to Lucia and the contents of the chalice to Jacinta and Francisco, saying at the same time:
“Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Repair their crimes and console your God.”
Here we have Holy Communions of reparations, the kind requested for First Saturdays. We are to have our souls in the state of sanctifying grace and receive our divine Lord with great dispositions of faith, hope, love, adoration, and a sense of consoling God. We are thus to make reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that is, to both the Head and Mother of the Church, for the conversion of sinners who have outraged them by sin.
Divine justice requires that the crimes of sin be repaired. Divine Mercy gives us the Holy Eucharist as well as the Sacrament of Reconciliation as the primary sources with which to accomplish this. Just think, in the Sacrifice of the Mass, we offer God the Father the self same Sacrifice of His Son offered on the Cross. The Sacrifice is perpetuated. What greater act of reparation is possible? We too see how the message of Divine Mercy given to Blessed Faustina coincides with the message of Fatima.
Reparation with respect to God, means making up with greater love for the failure in love through sin. We deprive God of His Glory (and also of His Holy Mother) when we sin. Reparation restores the glory due God (and due His Mother) in His justice. It means restoring, repairing, what was unjustly taken and compensating with generosity for the selfishness that caused the injury. We are enabled to right things through the mercy of God. We are obliged to do so in justice. We help all the members of the Mystical Body, the Church.
We are to console our God and to console the Immaculate Heart of His and our Mother. Notice that in our Mother’s request for meditation on the Rosary for First Saturdays, she asked us to “keep me company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.” Notice, “keep me company.” Again we see the call for intimacy with Mary, as well as Jesus. Mary as a loving Mother rested one hand on Lucia’s shoulder, holding her Heart in the other hand, when she asked for pity on her wounded Heart. In keeping our Mother company, she obviously comes as company to us also, to console her children as we console her.
We need to remember that all four acts we are asked to do for First Saturdays must be done in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Our Lord told Sister Lucia that if one forgets about the reparation when going to Confession, one should make the offering another time when going to Confession for the purpose of reparation to her. It is not important to tell the priest you are making the Confession of Reparation for First Saturday – but to have the intention in your heart.
Both Collegial Consecration and First Saturdays required
Interpret the message of Fatima as a whole. The first time “First Saturdays” are mentioned by Our Lady of Fatima is July 13, 1917. It is when she shows the children the terrible vision of hell where the souls of unrepentant sinners go. It is then she predicts war, hunger, persecution of the Church and the Holy Father if her requests are not granted. Our Lady adds: “In order to prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on First Saturdays.” Our Lady does not mention “five” in this first mention. She simply says “reparation on the First Saturdays.” And note that Our Lady mentions two things will be required and which she will come later to request. When she does come at the dates mentioned below she gives specific clarifications:
Clarifications and Dates
1. The Collegial Consecration of Russia in particular is to be made by the Pope and the bishops of the world. (Requested on June 13, 1929). 2. The four acts of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on First Saturdays are requested of the faithful. (Requested on December 25, 1925).
Heaven does nothing for nothing. Note that the clarification for what is requested of the faithful in general in the way of four acts in reparation on First Saturdays is given approximately four and half years before the clarification is given of what is expected of the Pope and bishops of the world. It is important to note that the hierarchy of the Church has already accomplished what was requested by Our Lady of them. This article is to bring the faithful to fulfill what the Mother of the Church asks of them.
First Saturdays for the Universal Church
Our Lady tied the two together in her first mention: Consecration of Russia and First Saturdays. Both were required to bring special blessings to the Church and prevent sufferings to the Church and punishments to the world.
We often hear the expression that we should make “the five First Saturdays.” The expression is better put: “Make the First Saturdays.” Our Lady first spoke of them relative to the universal Church and the world.
As a Mother, Mary is also deeply concerned about the salvation of each and every one of her children. As Jesus will leave the 99 sheep and go in search of the one that is lost (Matthew 18:12) since He loves each one of us individually, so it is with His Mother. It was to express her personal love for each one of us, her children, that Mary included a personal promise for the First Saturdays which she had spoken of already in July 1917. Calling each one of us for First Saturdays Mary said:
“I promise to assist at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for salvation all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, go to Confession and receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.” The promise of dying in God’s favor for having consecutively made “five” First Saturdays is a bonus for her children as individuals. First Saturdays nonetheless are to be made primarily for the good of others, for the Pope and for the universal Church.
We all have obligations of evangelism to the entire Church. Scripture tells us that if one is instrumental in the conversion of a sinner he shall certainly save his own soul. “If any of you err from the truth, and one convert him, he must know that he who causes a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
But each First Saturday concerns the spiritual welfare of the entire Church and the world. In a spirit of evangelization we should strive then to make First Saturdays habitually throughout the year for the good of the whole Church in reparation to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. What is made to Mary’s Heart is directed also to her Son and accrues to the Universal Church.
Don’t cut corners in making First Saturdays
The question has often come to us: “In our parish there is no morning Mass on Saturdays. Will the Sunday obligation fulfilled Saturday evening suffice for the First Saturdays?”
My answer is that the requests of Our Lady were for special voluntary acts of sacrifice in the form of reparation. Therefore we ought not cut corners in making the First Saturdays, counting it for our Sunday obligation. If one can receive Holy Communion in reparation only at a Saturday evening Mass, it would seem in the spirit of genuine sacrifice, reparation and love to participate in Mass and Holy Communion also on Sunday morning. If Saturday Mass and Holy Communion are impossible under all circumstances, one can request of one’s priest confessor permission to fulfill the First Saturday requests on Sundays.
The Collegial Consecration of the world and Russia by the Pope and the world’s bishops has been accomplished. This has been stated by the Pope, the Bishop of Fatima, (Bishop Alberto Amaral) and Sister Lucia herself.
Bishop McGee of Ireland, when secretary to the Pope John Paul II, said that the Holy Father had said that he had done all that needed to be done for the Collegial Consecration of Russia.
In a personal letter Father Fox received from Sister Lucia many years ago, she wrote me that the request for the Collegial Consecration of Russia made by Our Lady at Tuy, Spain on June 13, 1929 had been accomplished. It had her personal signature and she told me she writes her own letters.
Fatima Shepherd lives into Third Millennium
Sister Lucia, whom Our Lady promised would remain many years upon earth as God wanted to use her to make known and loved devotion to His Mother’s Immaculate Heart, at the age of 93, lived to see the beginning of the Third Millennium and the beginning of the promised triumph.
On June 13, 1929 Our Lady had appeared to Lucia to ask for the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, “promising by this means to prevent the spreading of its errors and to bring about its conversion.” She was making a Holy Hour at midnight before the Most Blessed Sacrament at the time. Sister Lucia wrote:
“Suddenly the whole chapel was illumined by a supernatural light, and a cross of light appeared above the altar, reaching to the ceiling. In a bright light at the upper part of the cross could be seen the face of a man and his body to the waist (Father), on his breast there was a dove also of light (Holy Spirit) and, nailed to the cross, was the body of another man (Son). Somewhat above the waist, I could see a chalice and a large host suspended in the air, on to which drops of blood were falling from the face of Jesus Crucified and from the wound in His side. These drops ran down on to the host and fell into the chalice. Our Lady was beneath the right arm of the cross (… it was Our Lady of Fatima with her Immaculate Heart. … in her left hand. … without sword or roses, but with a crown of thorns and flames. …). Under the left arm of the cross, large letters, as of crystal clear water which ran down over the altar, formed these words: `Graces and Mercy.’
“I understood that it was the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity which was shown to me, and I received lights about this mystery which I am not permitted to reveal.
“Our Lady then said to me:
“`The moment has come when God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the Bishops of the world, to make the Consecration of Russia to my Heart, promising to save it by this means.’”
This explicit request for the Collegial Consecration must be interpreted relative to the whole message of Fatima, in particular what was said July 13, 1917 at the time of the vision of hell, and the predictions of punishments to befall the world and the Church. “In order 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 wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars and the persecution of the Church ….”
Again, we repeat, the Collegial Consecration requested (above) was accomplished March 25, 1984 by Pope Pope John Paul II and the bishops of the world. What is still needed is greater participation of the faithful in the First Saturdays.
Sister Lucia has stated, after the Collegial Consecration of 1984, that we should continue to make the First Saturdays so that the conversion of Russia will be more perfect.
The Collegial Consecration and First Saturdays are tied together. The Collegial Consecration is accomplished. Doubtlessly the many thousands who made the First Saturday obtained grace to enable the Holy Father to accomplish it with a moral totality of the world’s bishops. Things in the Soviet Union began to change immediately after the Collegial Consecration. But for a far greater conversion of souls, millions of Catholics the world over should be making the First Saturdays.
Millions have not made the First Saturdays
Millions of Catholics throughout the world have never made any of the First Saturdays. They were important for the conversion of Russia and still are.
Even the secular world attributes much credit to the interventions of Pope John Paul II for the collapse of the evil empire of Communism over the Soviet Union which grew out of Russia. The Pope sees it in the Providence of God and the intercessory powers of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We are well aware, even with freedom of religion in Russia, and other Eastern European countries, once under atheistic Communism of the Soviets, how far that part of the world is still from using its freedoms properly, discovering the faith anew and returning to the practice of religion.
I recognize the great sufferings yet in Russia and the need to bring millions there back to Jesus Christ. Many need to meet Jesus Christ for the first time. I say this as the director of the Fatima Family Apostolate after being in Russia in October 1998 for the dedication of its first Shrine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in honor of Our Lady of Fatima.
The Fatima Family Apostolate was commissioned to finance the building of the first Shrine to Our Lady of Fatima in all of Russia. It was Roman Catholic Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, apostolic administrator of the Catholic Church, Latin Rite of European Russia, who resides in Moscow, and who commissioned me as the director of the Fatima Family Apostolate. In 1991 he led a pilgrimage group from Russia to Fatima. It was the first pilgrim group to get out of Russia to Fatima after the Iron Curtain of Communism collapsed. I assisted him in Fatima at the time. Thus we became friends.
The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, later took notice of the Shrine in Russia and sent a message and blessings for its dedication, October 11, 1998. The Shrine was given to Pope John Paul II as a gift by the Archbishop for the 20th year of his Pontificate. All Russian parishes of the Archbishop offered Mass for His Holiness the same day the Shrine was dedicated.
I’ve seen the fruit in Russia of what the Pope and bishops of the world have accomplished by the Collegial Consecration requested by heaven. There remains to be accomplish the fuller conversion fruit in Russia from many making the First Saturdays in reparation for conversions. Russia suffered for approximately eight decades under the influence of atheism of a totalitarian government. Several generations growing up in this manner in Russia and Eastern Europe are seriously handicapped – both as to the knowledge and the means – to return to the practices of the Christian faith which is often unknown.
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, living in Moscow, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin rite Catholic Church in European Russia, spoke to me at length, when I was in St. Petersburg, Russia for the dedication of Russia’s Shrine in honor of Our Lady of Fatima. I asked him about the slow process of conversion in Russia: He answered: “It is easy to change the name of a city, [Leningrad back to St. Petersburg] or to take down Communism’s statues [Lenin and Stalin]. To convert millions of people takes time because it reaches into their very souls and hearts and requires knowledge of religion and a personal decision of each one.”
The Shrine to Our Lady of Fatima in St. Petersburg, Russia is one-half block from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan which, under Communism, became a Center for atheism throughout all of Russia during the decades of Soviet control.
If one is tempted to think that nothing comes of the fulfillment of First Saturdays and the Collegial Consecration remember this. Russia’s Shrine to Our Lady of Fatima is also located but a few minutes walk from the Tsar’s Winter Palace where the Bolshevik Revolution began in 1917. The Statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary placed in Russia’s first Fatima Shrine was blessed by three bishops at Fatima, taken to Sister Lucia in Coimbra’s Carmelite Monastery where she venerated it, promising to be united spiritually at the Shrine’s blessing and dedication on October 11, 1998 in Russia. (October 11 was the Feast of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the former Liturgical Calendar). The Immaculate Heart of Mary statue was chosen for Russia’s first Fatima Shrine to mark the beginning of her Triumph in Russia.
Catholic Archbishop Kondrusiewicz of Russia sees that, in spite of the many problems in Russia, the new freedoms and gradual turn about there, since the Collegial Consecration, have been a miracle and happened rapidly. Presently there is close to one-hundred Russian men studying for the holy Catholic priesthood in a seminary in St. Petersburg. There are other reports from former Soviet Satellites of conversions. All this in a land where not long ago religious freedom did not exist, people were persecuted for the faith, and the exercise of religion. The mention of Fatima publicly during those decades would have meant going to prison or even death.
The promised triumph has not yet come but only begun. It awaits the fulfillment of another aspect of the request of the Mother of God. More and more are needed to make “First Saturdays” of Reparation, not merely five times for oneself, but again and again for the universal Church. When people say to a Catholic priest laboring at the Fatima Shrine in Russia, “But Russia has not been converted,” he replies, “Has America been converted?”
First Saturdays for Christian Unity
First Saturdays of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to whose intercession God has confided peace in the world and in the Church, are most important to bring about the new springtime of Christianity. It was foreseen already by Pope Pius XII shortly before he died. Pope John Paul II made mention of the dawn of a new springtime of Christianity when he was at Fatima.
As Pope John Paul II entered the Third Millennium he appeared ever more confident and optimistic for a new springtime for Christianity. He has continued speaking of the necessity of a new evangelization as he continues his work for reunion with the Orthodox.
I want to reemphasize that the Collegial Consecration of Russia and First Saturdays go together. Sister Lucia in 1989 said that the Collegial Consecration has always concerned Church Unity. Orthodox bishops joined Roman Catholic bishops in the Collegial Consecration of March 25, 1984 shortly after which changes began in Russia and its Soviet Satellites. We should keep in mind that First Saturdays of Reparation also concern the reunion of Russian Orthodoxy with the Roman Catholic Church. If the largest body of the Russian Orthodox reunited itself to the Pope, think what effect this would have on other Orthodox? Think too of the effect on the other Christians of the world not united to the See of Peter.
When Our Lady said at Fatima “Russia will be converted” and “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph” – many understood this as a prophecy, not only for the end of atheistic Communist governmental rule in Russia, but a reunion of the Russian Orthodox with Peter and his successors. For this intention we ought offer our acts of reparation on First Saturdays.
Pope John Paul II has worked hard throughout his papacy toward reunion with Orthodox Christians whose Episcopacy and Sacraments we recognize as valid. There have been Reunion Councils of the universal Church in the past with limited success. Why not again, with success? Jim Likoudis, a scholarly convert from Greek Orthodoxy, (in this issue) points out that important ecclesiastical decisions are the work of Councils and Synods in the context of Conciliarity or Collegiality, something much revered in Eastern Churches. The Ecumenical Council of Florence in 1439 had only partial success but for a brief period saw fall the doctrinal barriers between East and West. It would be possible for a new Council of Union to take place at the beginning of the Third Millennium “wherein the great Russian Orthodox Church and the Patriarch of Constantinople would take the lead in discarding the old discords, quarrels, cultural hostilities, and doctrinal misunderstandings of a centuries old Schism.”
For the reunion of Christians First Saturdays can play an important role in prayer and reparation for unity.
It appears clear to those who know the Fatima message in depth that a sufficient number had been praying and making the First Saturdays to enable the Pope to conduct the Collegial Consecration in union with the bishops. Archbishop Kondrusiewicz of Russia points out that during the years of hard communism many, even behind the iron curtain, quietly and secretly made the First Saturdays.
Since the Consecration and First Saturdays are part of one entity as Our Lady revealed July 13, 1917, when she said Russia would eventually be converted, Catholics the world over need to continue making the First Saturdays for the conversion of Russia, and hopefully a total reunion of East and West in the one Church of Jesus Christ with Peter as visible head.
Mary can end separations
Mary, Mother of the Church, is regarded in Christian antiquity as the one who as “Mother of Unity” ends 0separations. We have seen the power of the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary when Catholic bishops are united in prayer with the Holy Father, and with Orthodox bishops. They joined together for the Collegial Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary of the world and Russia on March 25, 1984. In that prayer of Collegial Consecration the world’s bishops prayed to Mary, saying that “the power of this consecration … overcomes every evil that the spirit of darkness is able to awaken. ..” This would include the disunity among Christians.
Our devout observance of First Saturdays will be a major prayerful contribution of reparation toward a future reunion of the Orthodox with Catholicism. It is late, but it is time for us to recognize the connection of First Saturdays to the Collegial Consecration and its relationship to Christian Unity.
First Saturdays will go a long way to give our Lady’s intercession the power she needs from her Son for her children in the unity of the Holy Spirit for “the conversion of Russia.” God did not save man without man and Mary needs our prayerful spirit of reparation for the First Saturdays to bring Christian Unity and the conversion of Russia. RJF
Browse: Home / First Saturday Devotion
By admin on August 22, 2011