One of the requests Our Lady of Fatima made known to Sr. Lucia was that the faithful make “communions of reparation” on five consecutive first Saturdays of the month. This has become known as the “First Saturday Devotion,” and its intention is to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the many ungrateful offenses she endures from mankind.
In addition to receiving Holy Communion on the first Saturdays of five consecutive months, Our Lady also gave other conditions to fulfill: confession, praying five decades of the rosary, and to keep her company by meditating for fifteen minutes on the rosary mysteries (for example, either in church or before a statue or image of Our Lady).
To those who faithfully meet all these conditions on five first Saturdays in reparation to her Immaculate Heart, Our Lady has promised to assist them at the hour of death with the graces necessary for eternal salvation. That is, she will ensure that those who have completed her request sometime during their life will not die in a state of mortal sin.
WHY A SEPARATE MEDITATION?
One may wonder why Our Lady requested that the faithful meditate on the rosary mysteries for fifteen minutes, when praying the rosary itself involves meditating on the rosary mysteries and takes about fifteen minutes to pray. Wouldn’t praying the rosary fulfill the request for fifteen minutes of meditation?
Understanding what is meant by meditation in this context will help to explain further. Traditionally, to “make a meditation” involved a structured time of guided meditation (not simply to think about or dwell upon in a random way). When one makes a meditation properly speaking, they have planned a specific topic on which they will mentally dwell for a set amount of time, examining it from all sides, along with making concrete resolutions to practice specific virtues extracted from what has just been meditated. If you’ve ever used a Catholic meditation books, you’re already familiar with this. Each day has a topic and usually involves questions and/or suggestions where one applies the meditation to specific areas of one’s life.
So, Our Lady has asked that in addition to praying the rosary on the first Saturdays, one should also spend fifteen minutes meditating on one or more of the rosary mysteries in order to better exemplify the virtues hidden therein. Below is the manner in which Sr. Lucia of Fatima, the woman to whom Our Lady made this request, completed her first Saturday rosary meditations.
SR. LUCIA’S METHOD FOR FIRST SATURDAY MEDITATION
“Here is my way of making the meditations on the mysteries of the rosary on the first Saturdays:
First mystery, the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Our Lady.
First prelude: to imagine myself seeing and hearing the Angel greet Our Lady with these words: ‘Hail Mary, full of grace.’
Second prelude: I ask Our Lady to infuse into my soul a profound sentiment of humility.
1st point: I will meditate on the manner in which Heaven proclaims that the Most Holy Virgin is full of grace, blessed among all women and destined to become the Mother of God.
2nd point: The humility of Our Lady, recognizing Herself and declaring Herself to be the handmaid of the Lord.
3rd point: How I must imitate Our Lady, in Her humility, what are the faults of pride and arrogance through which I most often displease the Lord, and the means I must employ to avoid them, etc.
On the second month, I make the meditation on the second joyful mystery. The third month, I make it on the third joyful mystery and so on, following the same method of meditating.
When I have finished the Five First Saturdays, I begin five others and meditate on the sorrowful mysteries, then the glorious ones, and when I have finished them I start over again with the joyful ones.”
You can see from the above passage that Sister Lucia starts with one of the rosary mysteries, identifies the key virtue demonstrated in it by Mary and/or Jesus, considers in depth the manner in which they practiced it, and resolves to do likewise in her own life, rooting out all that is opposed to it.
One of the temptations with praying the rosary is to run through the beads quickly, only dwelling in a superficial way of the rosary mysteries we are praying. To make the meditation as Our Lady requested allows us to dig deeply into just one or two mysteries to pull out more from them than we may have otherwise done.
Our Lady is always guiding us to higher heights in the spiritual life. The First Saturday devotion takes the faithful higher over the course of five months so that we, through Mary’s intercession, will grow in virtue more quickly and more perfectly image Christ.