by Barb Ernster –
Often within a year, the First Saturday lands on a special day, such as on Holy Saturday this past April, and this Saturday, on the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Generally, on feast days, we are in a celebratory mood, not a mood of penance and reparation, as First Saturday entails. But I can’t think of a better way to honor and celebrate the Mother of God on her special day, then to offer the First Saturday Communion of Reparation, especially to counter the sins against her Immaculate Heart, one of which is against her Divine Motherhood.
How fitting that the solemnity falls at the end of the octave of Christmas, which honors Jesus, the “Prince of Peace, while the solemnity honors Mary as “Queen of Peace.” Peace is one of the promises of Our Lady of Fatima, and we all need more of it. Because Jan. 1, 2022, falls on a Saturday, it is not a holy day of obligation for Catholics. Often when the Church removes the obligation of a holy day, it is easy to decide not to participate in it, so making the effort to get to Mass despite this (and confession if you did not get there for Christmas) is another sign of your active love and devotion to Mary.
Regarding the blasphemy against the Divine Motherhood of Mary, the late Father Andrew Apostoli, CFR, writes, “Belief in Mary as the Mother of God is one of the most cherished beliefs of Catholics. This privilege of Our Lady is the basis and reason for all the other privileges she received from God who took His human nature from her, that she was conceived without original sin (the privilege of her Immaculate Conception), that she remained a virgin before, during and after the birth of Jesus (the privilege of her Perpetual Virginity), that she played a very special part with Jesus in His mission of redeeming the world (her privilege as Co-Redemptrix) and that she was assumed body and soul into heaven when her earthly life was ended (the privilege of her Assumption). (Treasures of First Saturday Devotion)
The solemnity calls to mind the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, which proclaimed Mary as “Theotokos,” the “God-bearer” or the “Mother of God,” and upheld the reality of the Incarnation, that God became man, and that Jesus of Nazareth was fully divine and fully human. It condemned the heretical teaching of Nestorious that called her only “Christotokos,” “the bearer of Christ,” or the mother of a human person that God entered into and simply co-existed there. When the council declared Mary “Mother of God,” the Christians in Ephesus were so overjoyed that they held a night-long procession throughout the streets of Ephesus chanting, “Theotokos! Theotokos!”
Our First Saturday devotion on Jan. 1 makes this proclamation resound even louder. It makes reparation for those who continue in their disbelief about this exceptional Church teaching on Mary, and for those who ridicule and blaspheme against the Mother of God, but also against the Person of Jesus. This blasphemy can lead to another, that of alienating children from the heavenly Mother and even causing them to hate her; and to another, that of insulting and desecrating her sacred images.
Recalling her beautiful words to St. Juan Diego, “Am I not here, I who am your Mother; are you not under my shadow and protection?”; and to Lucia, “I will never forsake you, my Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God,” we can join with Mary in her song of thanksgiving, the Magnificat, that the “Almighty has done great things for (her) and holy is His Name!”
May our First Saturday devotions help others to discover the joy of Mary and embrace her as the Mother of God, their Mother, so that she can lead them to their heavenly home.
Barb Ernster is the Communications Manager/Editor for the World Apostolate of Fatima USA