Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, Catholic Exchange <i>, and <i>Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Heaven can highlight the message of major apparitions in many ways. Why not even highlighting them by specific days of the week on which events regularly fall to reinforce the major messages? Maybe Fatima, for one. Several major events just happen to take place on Saturdays and Thursdays. It certainly looks like another way. The evidence seems too obvious to be coincidental.
First, remember Fatima’s messages and directions from Our Lady are essential and indispensable to do what she said we need to do to bring peace. The Miracle of the Sun and its 100th anniversary reminder broadcasts that to us loud and clear.
But how do Saturdays and Thursdays fit into the picture? What might they tell us?
To begin, recall that months also fit the Fatima picture. The Church dedicates May to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary appeared for the first time at Fatima in May.
Then came October, the month of the Holy Rosary. On October 13 at Fatima, Our Lady identified herself: I am the Lady of the Rosary. She again called for the daily Rosary.
Before we go to the significance of Saturdays and Thursdays, we need to look at a vital detail.
Recall one more little realized fact that accentuates Fatima’s message. Although Our Lady’s first appearance on May 13 was not on a Saturday but a Sunday, on that particular date was the liturgical Feast of Our Lady of the Eucharist (also sometimes known as Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament).
The late Father Robert Fox, the founder of the Fatima Family Apostolate International, who regularly assisted at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, was of this mind. He said, “When Our Blessed Mother came to Fatima she came as Our Lady of Peace — all of Light — and she came as Our Lady of the Holy Eucharist.”
And who gave her that title joining Mary and the Eucharist? Saint Peter Julian Eymard, called "The Priest of the Eucharist" and "The Apostle of the Eucharist." It was in May, 1868. He founded the Congregation of the Most Blessed Sacrament — founded and approved on May 13, 1856.
What the Angel Did
There’s yet more significance. When the Angel of Peace came in 1916 to prepare the children for the appearances of Our Lady, on his final visit he held in his left hand a chalice with the Host suspended above it. From the Host, drops of blood fell into the chalice. In her Memoirs, Lucia describes how the Angel left the chalice suspended in the air, knelt down and made the three children repeat three times:
“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and 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 with which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.”
Then he rose and gave Lucia the Host and Jacinta and Francisco the sacred Blood from the chalice. While he did so, he said, “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men! Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.”
Father Fox said in this way the angel taught the children “to offer their Holy Communion in reparation for those who abuse this Most Blessed Sacrament in various ways.”
Remember what Our Lady told the children in October: People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended!
We know the Church devotes Saturdays to the Blessed Mother. It’s her day.
Oct. 13, 1917, the day the big miracle occurred at Fatima — the Miracle of the Sun — was a Saturday. Her special day, this time in more ways than one.
On Saturday, Dec. 17, 1927, Sister Lucia had a vision of Jesus. In Pontevedra, Spain, she went before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle because she wanted heaven’s permission to reveal part of the secret her spiritual director asked her to include in her memoirs. She asked Jesus “how she should comply with what had been asked of her, that is, to say if the origin of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was included in the Secret that the most holy Virgin had confided to her.”
Lucia continued in the third person, “Jesus made her hear very distinctly these words: My daughter, write what they ask of you. Write also all that the most holy Virgin revealed to you in the Apparition, in which she spoke of this devotion. As for the remainder of the Secret, continue to keep silence.
What was Lucia referring to that she was asked to reveal? It was about devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, another major part of the Fatima message. She wrote that specifically in 1917, Our Lady said: …Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and these souls will be loved by God, like flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.
There’s the all-important devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary that Jesus tells her to reveal. But there’s more since she was also referring to another apparition which brings in…
Most of us might not realize or have forgotten that Thursday is traditionally the day of the week we especially remember the Holy Eucharist because Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist on a Thursday.
On Thursday, Dec. 25, 1925, the Blessed Mother appeared to Lucia. The Child Jesus stood on a luminous cloud next to his Mother. Lucia described how Our Lady rested her hand upon Lucia’s shoulder and at the same time showed her “a heart encircled by thorns, which she was holding in her other hand. At the same time, the Child said: Have compassion on the Heart of your most holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.”
Then Our Lady told her:
Look, my daughter, at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.”
The reference to the Five First Saturday devotion — on the day the Church dedicates to Our Lady — and combining that with Holy Communion and then with the Rosary Our asked for during each of her apparitions, couldn’t be a clearer, plainer request, and promise. Nor could the reference to Our Lady of Sorrows as Our Lady also appeared in October 1917.
Then on Thursday, June 13, 1929, Dorothean Sister Lucia had yet another major vision the convent in Tuy, Spain. Again it was a revelation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and of the Blessed Trinity. There was a reference in the vision to the Holy Eucharist too.
She was making her usual Thursday 11 pm Holy Hour in the chapel.
Prostrate in the middle of the chapel, with her arms forming a cross, she was praying the prayers the Angel taught the seers, then stood up to continue these prayers. Lucia tells what happened next. “Suddenly a supernatural light illumined the whole chapel and on the altar appeared a cross of light which reached to the ceiling. In a brighter part could be seen, on the upper part of the Cross, the face of a man and His body to the waist; On His breast was an equally luminous dove, and nailed to the cross, the body of another man.”
Notice the distinct reference to the Eucharist next.
“A little below the waist, suspended in mid-air, was to be seen a Chalice and a large Host onto which fell some drops of Blood from the face of the Crucified and from a wound in His breast. These drops ran down over the Host and fell into the Chalice.”
Now comes the next Fatima reference. “Under the right arm of the Cross was Our Lady with Her Immaculate Heart in Her hand… (It was Our Lady of Fatima with Her Immaculate Heart… in Her left hand… without a sword or roses, but with a crown of thorns and flames…). Under the left arm (of the Cross), some big letters, as it were of crystal clear water running down over the Altar, formed these words: ‘Grace and Mercy.’”
Lucia understood this as the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity being shown her. Our Lady then told her about her Immaculate Heart again: The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the Bishops of the world, to make the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means. There are so many souls whom the Justice of God condemns for sins committed against me, that I have come to ask reparation: sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.
On another note, on May 13, 1937, the apostolic nuncio went to Fatima to head the first Portuguese national pilgrimage there. Some half million pilgrims joined him. It was on a Thursday.
On May 13, 1948, the 31st anniversary of Our Lady's first apparition, Sister Lucia went from the Dorothean Sisters to be received into the Order of Mount Carmel. It was a Thursday.
Also on a Thursday, May 13, 1982, St. John Paul II returned to Fatima for two reasons: to thank Our Lady for saving his life during the previous year’s assassination attempt, and to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. He celebrated Mass and during his homily he said:
“This call was uttered at the beginning of the twentieth century, and it was thus addressed particularly to this present century. The Lady of the message seems to have read with special insight the "signs of the times,” the signs of our time…The call to repentance is a motherly one, and at the same time it is strong and decisive.”
“The solicitude of the Mother of the Saviour is solicitude for the work of salvation: the work of her Son. It is solicitude for the salvation, the eternal salvation, of all.” That’s a reason she came to Fatima with her messages for us.
“And so, while the message of Our Lady of Fatima is a motherly one, it is also strong and decisive. It sounds severe. It sounds like John the Baptist speaking on the banks of the Jordan. It invites to repentance. It gives a warning. It calls to prayer. It recommends the Rosary.”
“He [John Paul II] presents himself, reading again with trepidation the motherly call to penance, to conversion, the ardent appeal of the Heart of Mary that resounded at Fatima 65 years ago. Yes, he reads it again with trepidation in his heart, because he sees how many people and societies — how many Christians — have gone in the opposite direction to the one indicated in the message of Fatima. Sin has thus made itself firmly at home in the world, and denial of God has become widespread in the ideologies, ideas and plans of human beings.
But for this very reason the evangelical call to repentance and conversion, uttered in the Mother's message, remains ever relevant. It is still more relevant than it was 65 years ago. It is still more urgent.” And this was in 1982. Consider where the world has gone since then.”
T the same time St. John Paul II said in the midst of this his heart rejoiced in hope at the consecrations of the world to the Mother because it meant consecrating the world to Jesus, Infinite Holiness. “This Holiness means redemption. It means a love more powerful than evil. No ‘sin of the world’ can ever overcome this Love.”
“Mary's appeal is not for just once. Her appeal must be taken up by generation after generation, in accordance with the ever new "signs of the times." It must be unceasingly returned to. It must ever be taken up anew.”
Also, might there be any connection in this regard? On Saturday, Oct. 13, 1973, Our Lady appeared at Akita, Japan, to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa, a member of the Handmaids of the Eucharist, with some dire warnings. (Remember, Our Lady appeared in Fatima on May 13, the feast of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament – Our Lady of the Eucharist. The nuns at that convent have Perpetual Adoration.)
In all events, remember one more thing in all this — St. Francisco, who received and lived the requests of Our Lady of Fatima, became very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, spending hours on end to console the Hidden Jesus. Isn’t it time we console Our Lady and Jesus — on every day of the week?