by Father Thomas Dufner –
Fatima is a wonderful place where we are drawn into the heart of Our Lady and there are made her true children filled with her own life. Through this “school of Our Lady” we enter into the sacramental life, the interior life and the apostolic life, all for the good of the Church. The First Saturdays devotion helps us get there.
The Sacramental Life
The five First Saturdays is about reparation, but it leads us into the sacramental life of the Church, where God pours out Divine power. The sacramental life starts with confession. That’s where we renew the innocence once given us in Baptism. Here we renounce Satan, reject sin and its ability to separate us from God, and demonstrate a desire to be with Christ. Our attitudes are reshaped by the Sacrament of Penance. This is a time for us to confess all of our mortal sins and God wipes them away.
Next is Holy Communion. Reception of Holy Communion establishes us as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, intimately united with the Divine Head and entirely disposed to be Mary’s own children, having that precious Blood flow within us.
The Interior Life
The First Saturdays lead us into the interior life, where God pours out His personal love for us. Through the Rosary, we have recourse to Our Lady in prayer and it follows the office that she continually fills at the side of her Divine Son as mediatrix of all graces. When we pray the Rosary, we are filled and protected with Mary.
Some will say, “Oh it’s so repetitious.” But Fr. Benedict Groeschell, CFR said the prayer form is actually called a ‘mantra.’ We use the words of God, but we go beneath the words and enter into their meaning. As the beads slip through our fingers, we enter into the mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of the birth of the God-man, the mystery of the Eucharist. Through the Rosary, we enter far deeper into the mysteries than we could have if we only sat there with our own pious meditations. So the Rosary is a powerful prayer. At the end of the Rosary there is often peace. Our Lady does this. She brings peace and she’ll do this in times of great temptation. The additional 15-minute mediation allows us to enter deeply within the mystery.
The Apostolic Life
The First Saturdays also leads us into the apostolic life, where God pours out His gifts. We are sent out to speak the Word, to call people back from a world of darkness. Perhaps they won’t like it, but they need to hear the words anyway. There are moments in the apostolic life when we are summoned to do something more, summoned to greatness, to be apostles, to be ambassadors for Christ.
The First Saturday devotions are a kind of school where we come to know Our Lady. As friends defend one another, so we defend her honor, and she defends us. It’s the school of her Immaculate Heart—the sacraments, the interior life and the apostolic life—the very place where you and I enter deep within.
Father Thomas Dufner is pastor of Church of the Epiphany in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, and the spiritual director of the World Apostolate of Fatima/St. Paul-Minneapolis Division.