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, and 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.
Listen to your Mother!
Mother’s Day in May is a good reminder, but a better one is the anniversary of our Blessed Mother’s appearance in Fatima, which we celebrated on May 13.
How many really listen to what our Mother said we must do? She instructs us to pray a daily Rosary and honor the Five First Saturdays.
But how many even know what the Five First Saturdays are?
This year marks the 97th anniversary of our Blessed Mother’s first appearance to the three shepherd children at Fatima — and by extension, to all her children. That’s us. Her messages, advice, and directions were for us.
Like a good mother who wants the best for her sons and daughters, she told us simply and clearly what we must do to have peace in the world and in our hearts.
At every apparition, Mary told the children to pray the Rosary. Every day.
In her July apparition, she also said she was going to ask for the Communion of Reparation on the Five First Saturdays.
Looking at the news, with turmoil and culture wars in place after place around the world, we should heed the words of Mary.
In our Blessed Mother’s message to the children in July, she said:
“If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. … If people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out. … (she speaks of a specific light as) a great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. 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.”
Our Mother gave each of us a promise attached to the Five First Saturdays devotion when, in 1925, she appeared to one of those children, now Sister Lucia, and said:
"Look, my daughter, at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me at 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 15 minutes while meditating on the 15 Mysteries of the Rosary with the intention of making reparation to me."
Fatima expert Father Andrew Apostoli strongly reminded in an interview:
“This devotion is most important and neglected. I call it Our Lady’s spiritual formation program. It’s one of the most important elements for the peace of the world and the consecration and conversion of Russia. With Russia, the pope did his part. What’s not happened is we’re not making the Five First Saturdays devotion in numbers sufficient.
“Our Lady wanted the people to pray the Five First Saturdays devotion. That includes 15 minutes in quiet prayer to make reparation for the [five] blasphemies against her Immaculate Heart” which are against her Immaculate Conception, against her perpetual virginity, against her as Mother of God, in reparation for those keeping the young children from her and finally those who blaspheme her sacred images.
Father Apostoli further said in his book Fatima for Today:
“As a mother, Our Lady wants none of her children to be lost, but all to be saved. So let us faithfully and generously carry out her wishes in this great devotion of the Five First Saturdays. The Five First Saturdays devotion, with its unique combination of confession, Communion and the Rosary, holds a special place in Our Lady’s plan.”
Great Fatima devotee St. John Paul II was at Fatima on May 13, 1982. In his homily he said:
“In the light of a mother's love, we understand the whole message of the Lady of Fatima. The greatest obstacle to man's journey towards God is sin, perseverance in sin and, finally, denial of God. The deliberate blotting out of God from the world of human thought; the detachment from him of the whole of man's earthly activity; the rejection of God by man.
“Can the Mother who, with all the force of the love that she fosters in the Holy Spirit, desires everyone's salvation keep silent on what undermines the very bases of their salvation? No, she cannot.
“And so, while the message of Our Lady of Fatima is a motherly one, it is also strong and decisive. … It invites to repentance. It gives a warning. It calls to prayer. It recommends the Rosary.
“She not only calls us to be converted: She calls us to accept her motherly help to return to the source of redemption.
“Her care extends to every individual of our time and to all the societies nations and peoples. Societies menaced by apostasy, threatened by moral degradation. The collapse of morality involves the collapse of societies.”
Addressing himself in the third person, St. John Paul II continued:
“He 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 … 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.
“Mary's appeal is not for just once. … It must be unceasingly returned to. It must ever be taken up anew.”
Let’s listen to our Mother and complete the Five First Saturdays devotion with its promise of peace and eternal salvation.
Mother Mary, pray for us and peace for the world! Amen.