A century-old devotion — the Five First Saturdays Devotion — is getting new attention from the Mary and the Saints Area Catholic Community, which includes the parishes of Elmdale, Holdingford, St. Anna, St. Francis, St. Wendel and Upsala.
On June 5 at Immaculate Conception Parish in St. Anna, the first of five consecutive First Saturday Masses took place.
What is the Five First Saturdays devotion?
According to Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the children to whom the Blessed Mother miraculously appeared in Fatima, Portugal, Mary told her that she promised “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.”
Jeff Johnson, a member of Immaculate Conception, spent a great deal of time studying the apparitions of Mary at Fatima, especially around the 100th anniversary in 2017 of the first apparition. Johnson, a college professor, offered presentations about the apparitions in several area parishes, which sparked interest in reclaiming the devotion.
“It has never been a more important time to reclaim and enact this devotion,” Johnson said. “Our Lady of Fatima is calling us, and asking us to stand together as Catholics against sin with patience, prayer, wonder and love.”
Johnson approached his parish priest, Father Gregory Mastey, who agreed to offer the opportunity to practice this devotion with the Mary and the Saints ACC.
In addition to Mass and receiving the sacraments, “catechesis, prayer and the practice of devotions are always the best practical way to reawaken the hearts and minds of people as well as to perhaps introduce something new,” Father Mastey said.
About 125 participants filled Immaculate Conception for the first of the five Masses. Father Mastey explained the history of the devotion and the elements needed to complete it.
He also blessed salt and water, which he said are powerful sacramentals. Participants filled bottles with the mixture to use to bless their homes.
“Devotionals like the First Saturday observance and sacramentals like holy water are important to help us fall deeper in love with the Church and the Blessed Mother, who always leads us to Jesus,” he said.
Cassie Sowada, a newly confirmed member of All Saints in Holdingford, attended the Mass with her mother.
“It’s a big thing in our family to go to church and to practice our religion. Having the idea that if you do this, Mary will be with you when you pass away, having her by your side, a mother for all of us. It just means a lot to me and my family to come and do this,” she said.
Jamie and Greg Eiynck brought their seven children to the Mass.
“It’s important for us to come and spend time with our Lord and receive the graces for [the devotion],” Jamie said. “We just love it. We want to show the kids that it is important to put our faith first.”
In order to receive the full grace that is attached to this devotion, one must attend five consecutive First Saturday Masses as well as pray the rosary, spend 15 minutes in adoration and go to confession.
Father Mastey said there are several area parishes that offer First Saturday Masses year-round, and there is value in attending just one, or more.
“No love for Jesus or Mary is ever without value. Everything is of value when we are praying, and there is greater strength when we come together to pray,” he said. “Just try the best you can.”
WHAT ARE DEVOTIONS?
Popular devotions are expressions of love and fidelity that arise from the intersection of one’s own faith, culture and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As St. John Paul II said in 2001: “Genuine forms of popular piety, expressed in a multitude of different ways, derives from the faith and, therefore, must be valued and promoted. Such authentic expressions of popular piety are not at odds with the centrality of the Sacred Liturgy. Rather, in promoting the faith of the people, who regard popular piety as a natural religious expression, they predispose the people for the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries. Devotions promote the faith of the people.” (Address to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Sept. 21, 2001).
— Excerpted from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
THE ADDITIONAL FOUR SATURDAYS in St. Anna include the rosary beginning at 10:30 a.m. Followed by Mass at 11 a.m. on July 3, Aug. 7, Sept. 4 and Oct. 2. This devotion can begin on any First Saturday in any parish that offers Mass.