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Dear Catholic Exchange:
I recently heard a group of ladies talking about the importance of first Saturday Mass. Can you clue me in on this specific Mass attendance?
Greetings in Christ! I hope this response will adequately address your question.
On July 13th, 1917, Mary appeared for the third time at Fatima and requested, among other things, that Catholics receive Holy Communion on the first Saturday of five consecutive months in reparation for sin. To those who perform this devotion, our Lady promised her assistance at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for salvation.
Our Lady gave four conditions for the Five First Saturdays of Reparation, namely, that one go to confession, receive Holy Communion, pray the rosary, and meditate 15 minutes on five decades of the rosary. These are to be done with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for five consecutive months. Our Lady also asked that we say the following prayer at the end of each decade of the Rosary: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.”
Regarding reception of Communion, sometimes people wonder whether they must go to the Mass for that Saturday or whether the Vigil for Sunday is acceptable.
In short, Holy Communion, not participation in the Mass, is a condition for the first Saturday Devotion. Thus, Communion on the first Saturday, in a Mass or outside of Mass, in the morning or evening, is sufficient. Furthermore, receiving Communion at Sunday Mass is acceptable if that is the only means for receiving Communion near the first Saturday.
The Blue Army, an apostolate that promotes the message of Fatima, provides the following information regarding missing Saturday Masses:
Parishioners who do not have access to a Saturday morning Mass may pray the Rosary a half hour before the Saturday evening vigil Mass or after the Mass. Where there is no Saturday Mass, permission may be obtained from the priest to fulfill the conditions on the following Sunday.
First Saturdays may also be observed as part of a valid Communion service instead of the Mass.
A call to the Blue Army confirmed that one need not attend a particular Mass to meet any of the four conditions. Mass is simply one way to receive Holy Communion, which is required.
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