Why First Saturdays?
And How to Fulfill Mary's Request
On July 13, 1917 Mary appeared to three young Portuguese children-her third appearance-and showed them a vision of hell. Then she told them, "I have come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays. If [people] respond to my requests, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be destroyed." (Wm. Thomas Walsh, OLF, pp. 81, 82). Do we in the Western world think we are immune from this?
The first Saturdays-is this not something we have largely ignored? What does Mary ask? For the first Saturday of each month: Confession (within 8 days before or after); Holy Communion of reparation for the sins of the world; meditation on five decades of the Rosary; 15 [extra] minutes of meditation on the mysteries. It seems like such a small thing to ask for peace in the world.
Of course, this is not magic. We must still lead holy lives. But, should not responding to Mary's request be part of true holiness?
Should we not all make every effort to fulfill this simple request? Please consider saying "yes" to Mary's plea, to bring about world peace.
The following are meditations which may be used to spend the extra 15 minutes of meditation in your parish, as Mary requested. If each meditation is timed at about 45 seconds, this will add up to "15 minutes of meditation on the mysteries."
First Saturday Meditations
1. The Annunciation
The advent of this wondrous new age, awaited a thousand years, was announced to a humble maiden at prayer in her quiet bedroom. "Hail, full of grace..." Words to be repeated thousands of times by all generations to celebrate this joyful mystery of God's love. He will be the "...son of the most high... and will have the throne of David." ...The Messiah! Mary, help us to say with you, "Let [all things] be done to me according to your word."
2. The Visitation
Elizabeth and Mary-two unlikely mothers-share the wonder of their mysterious pregnancies. In the face of God's marvelous plan, Mary can speak only of his greatness, and her own lowliness. The mighty will fall before him, the hungry will eat well but not the rich. To recognize this contrast-how pleasing to God! For all God's gifts-and especially for her humility-Mary will be called blessed. And we do call her blessed.
3. The Nativity
Jesus is the morning star, with a hidden brightness, too wonderful to be shown. He is born in Bethlehem, house of bread-the bread of angels. The God of all comes to us in a stable. We still find him in hardship, obscurity, poverty. He is heralded by angels, discovered by shepherds... And, wise men still seek him. Mary, invite us to the manger's side to worship our infant Lord and Savior.
4. The Presentation
How ironic that Mary, the pure one, brings Jesus, the redeemer to the temple for purification and redemption. Simeon rejoices at seeing the awaited "salvation," a light for the nations, the glory of Israel. God's promise to him fulfilled, Simeon is ready to leave this world in peace. Our choice for or against this child will seal our fate, good or evil. And, he will bring a sword to pierce Mary's heart. Help us to choose you, Lord, and to console Mary's heart.
5. The Finding in The Temple
If Mary and Joseph could err about Jesus being with them how much more might we err about his presence with us? How do we err thus? By all the little "agreements" we make with God to continue our pet sins. We are comfortable, but the Lord is not with us. Better to feel his absence, however painful. God's absence is not always a punishment, but sometimes an invitation to draw closer to him. Lord, may we joyfully accept the invitation.
The Luminous Mysteries
1. The Baptism in The Jordan
The worst thing in the world is not sin, but its denial. There was no denial of sin that day in the Jordan, when so many came to be symbolically washed clean of their sins. To know our sins and admit them is the first step toward healing. To confess them to "another Christ" is the second. And, to make up for them, the third. O that we might do these things, and turn forever from sin, to you, Lord, our true Happiness. And, that the Father might one day say of us, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."
2. Jesus' Self-Manifestation at Cana
The choice of a wedding for his first miracle spoke volumes about Jesus' love for marriage. The Church has continued that love. But, he didn't work his miracle before his mother asked him. Mary is still asking Jesus for us, for what we need. As he turned water to wine by Mary's intercession, so by that same intercession, may he turn our human love to divine, to prepare us for our nuptials with God.
3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom
What is the Kingdom? Beyond words, St. Paul tells us (1 Cor. 2:9). The two things needed to enter, as Jesus said-to love God and neighbor-are also the essence of the kingdom: to love, and to know the intimacy that follows, the intimacy of a marriage. The lamb will have his "bride" (Rev. 21). St. Gregory the Great wrote, "the husband of every Christian soul is God..." Lord God, by our humility, our poverty, and by embracing our cross, make us worthy of our divine marriage with you.
4. The Transfiguration
Earnest money: that's what St. Catherine of Siena calls the transfiguration. It is a glimpse of the glory to come, to strengthen the three apostles against the scandal of Jesus' cross. Every consolation we experience, every good feeling at prayer or worship, every holy person, every miracle, every answered prayer, every powerful retreat, is our earnest money, against the scandal of our own cross. May we rejoice in these consolations as seeds of hope, but not cling to them; there must yet be a cross.
5. The Institution of The Eucharist
To share this unimaginable intimacy with God himself is both a gift and a promise. It is as if God, in all his beauty and magnificence-which can only be known by those who pray much-reaches down to embrace us so warmly, so tenderly, so slowly as our romantic lover, and whispers in our ear, "I want you for my spouse... forever." O Lord, I am not worthy...
The Sorrowful Mysteries
1. The Agony in The Garden
His hour has come, his "glory." On this Holy Thursday, Jesus faces the horrible reality of his passion and he fears it. He asks for relief, but then offers the perfect prayer to his Father: "not my will but thine be done." This agony symbolizes our first invitation to suffer with Jesus for our sins and those of others. Will we run from the cross he promised us, or embrace it, and find peace, as he himself did in the end?
2. The Scourging at the Pillar
"By his stripes we are healed" (Is. 53:5). So begins the brutal rending of Jesus' flesh. The executioners carry out their vicious assault with metal-tipped scourges, tearing off pieces of sacred flesh with each blow. His agony is intense... and long. And what was he thinking of then? Of us, and our sins of the flesh as he atoned for them here? Look closely: are we wielding the whips?
3. The Crowning with Thorns
The scourging was not enough. The king, the king of the Jews, must have a crown! A crown of humiliation, studded with our sins of pride: intellectual pride; pride over our gifts; pride over our accomplishments; even spiritual pride. O how blessed the poor in spirit, the humble, who never placed a thorn in this crown.
4. The Carrying of The Cross
"...The cross is complete folly for those on the way to ruin, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God." (1 Cor. 1:18) Yet even a non-believer can understand that self-denial and suffering are essential to any lasting love. This way of the cross-what shame! What pain! Veronica wiped his face, Simon helped, the soldiers ridiculed and scourged him on to Calvary. O that we might be more like Veronica or Simon, than the soldiers.
5. The Crucifixion
His final hour. Wounds reopened; penetrating nails; jeering bystanders. At what terrible price, sin! You forgive... you promise paradise... you give your mother... you recall the Psalm of desolation and hope (Ps. 23)... you thirst... you commend your soul... it is finished. The Lamb is dead. The sun hides; Angels cover their faces. His heart is pierced. It pours forth blood and water: sacraments of love. Have we hearts of stone, that we could ever sin again after seeing this?
The Glorious Mysteries
1. The Resurrection
The resurrection is the world's greatest upset victory, the impossible triumph against all odds. Yes, he had repeatedly told his followers it would end this way, but it seemed so wildly unreal... The world so often seems to have won, with its commitment to greed, unchastity and death. But Christ holds the trump card. His victory is assured. His rising guaranteed that. That is why we Christians never, never give up.
2 . The Ascension
"As he blessed them, he left from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they... returned to Jerusalem with great joy..." (Lk 24:51, 52). Why were they joyful? Because although they would miss Jesus, they were about to be filled with the Spirit and do God's work themselves. What a joy - to do God's work, with the Spirit's power. And what a power!
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
On this Jewish feast of Pentecost, the Spirit came in abundance. But, he had to be invited... by nine days of prayer-the first novena. The twelve were transformed from timorous disciples, to fearless apostles, on fire with zeal for this Good News. There was something remarkably new in Peter's words and 3,000 converted. The Word is just as new today, because where the Holy Spirit breathes, he makes all things new... too new for old wineskins.
4. The Assumption
Her heart was eager to return to her Son, so more than anyone, Mary was warmed by the approach of her passing from this world. This short life after all, is about preparing for eternal life-real life. But her passing from this life was different from others. Mary was raised soul AND body into heaven, a privilege which derived from her Immaculate Conception. And her holiness translated into unimaginable beauty. How good these bodies of ours, and by God's grace, how beautiful they will be in heaven!
5. The Coronation
Mary embodied the goodness of those who loved their enemies, who courted in a truly Godly way, who did not cheat or lie, who showed kindness to all, who moderated their appetites, who lived marriage by God's plan. Those who live these virtues, however imperfectly, will receive a crown. But, the crown of crowns-the deepest intimacy with God-is for the woman who lived all these to perfection. Mary, our mother, and our queen, teach us the way to perfection, the way to final intimacy with God.