By Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC
Spiritual Director of the 13th of the Month Club
Are you sick of turning on the news and seeing nothing but violence and mayhem? Well, there’s something we can do to bring about peace.
My fellow Marian Fr. Seraphim Michalenko sometimes tells a story that a priest ministering in Japan shared with him in Rome. This priest was attending an international gathering of Christians from across the world, attended by foreign dignitaries. The ambassador from Japan approached the priest, verified that the priest served in Japan and was a Catholic priest, and then said, “War is your fault.”
The priest was surprised and asked what the ambassador meant. The ambassador said, “You Catholics, all of you — we do not have peace in the world. It is your fault.”
The priest said, “Ambassador, why do you blame us?”
The ambassador said, “I’ve read about this. The Lady came to you at Fatima, right? That’s what you believe? She told you what to do to secure peace in the world. Well, there’s no peace in the world, so obviously you Catholics haven’t done it.”
The priest had to acknowledge that the ambassador was correct, but still tried to protest, saying, “Isn’t peace everyone’s responsibility?”
The ambassador was vehement. “No, she came to you Catholics. Not to Buddhists. Not to Hindus. She came to you, and it is your responsibility.”
That ambassador had more faith than a lot of Catholics! But he’s right — Our Lady came and asked for specific things at Fatima. If we listened to her and did what she asked, there would be peace in the world. Among her requests were for us all to pray the Rosary every day, including peace in the world as one of our intentions; wearing the brown scapular; the consecration of Russia and each of us individually to Mary’s Immaculate Heart; doing our daily duties; and making reparation for sins, especially by observing something called the Five First Saturdays of Reparation.
She explained those Five First Saturdays to Sr. Lucia Santos, one of the Fatima visionaries, on Dec. 10, 1925 in the following way:
See, my daughter, my Heart encircled by thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. Do you, at least, strive to console me. Tell them that I promise to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation all those who, in order to make reparation to me, on the First Saturday of five successive months, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, say five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for a quarter of an hour, meditating on the … mysteries of the Rosary.
The practice of the First Saturdays consists of doing the following elements, performed with the intention of reparation, for five consecutive months:
- Confession (shortly before or after the First Saturday — so long as the person receives Holy Communion in a state of grace);
- Holy Communion received on the First Saturday;
- the Holy Rosary, five decades recited sometime during the day; and
- meditating for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary (one or more).
Now, a lot of people have forgotten about the First Saturday devotion, but it’s still relevant today — wars are still going on! We still haven’t seen the fulfillment of Our Lady’s promise that “In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” According to Sr. Lucia, Pope John Paul II consecrated Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart on March 25, 1984. The USSR fell shortly afterwards. And yet there’s still not peace in the world — but have most of us been faithful to her requests, especially the First Saturdays of Reparation?
So I call on all Thirteenth of the Month Club members and everyone who loves Mary to start making the Five First Saturdays a regular part of their prayer life. For anyone who visits the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on the First Saturday of each month, it’s easy! Pilgrims can go to Confession, pray the Rosary for Life, and attend the Shrine Mass with the intention of making reparation to Our Lady as she requested. To fulfill the requirement to meditate for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary, you can prayerfully walk the Stations of the Cross on Eden Hill for at least 15 minutes, remaining aware of keeping Our Lady company in spirit throughout her Son’s Passion and Death.
Let’s make reparation together to the Immaculate Heart by being faithful to the Five First Saturdays, and help Our Lady spread grace, peace, and healing throughout all the world.
For more about Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima, Fr. Donald recommends Fatima for Today, by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, as well as Fr. Donald’s books Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon and Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest, all available through ShopMercy.org or by calling 1-800-462-7426.