Communal First Saturdays

Foundations for the Communal First Saturdays

Does the Second Vatican Council prepare the way for the First Saturdays?

The Second Vatican Council in its Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, speaks of the important role of devotions in relation to the liturgy. Having said that popular devotions in conformity with the Church are “highly recommended,” the document goes on to state, “But such devotions should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some way derived from it, and lead the people to it, since in fact the liturgy by its very nature is far superior to any of them” (emphasis ours). The Communal First Saturdays demonstrates how the Rosary and the separate meditation are practiced in relation to the liturgy and for the sake of the liturgy. The Communal First Saturdays also shows how the First Saturdays Rosary and additional meditation can harmonize with the liturgical seasons. 

What do we mean by Liturgy?              

“The liturgy is the work of the whole Christ, head and body. Our high priest celebrates it unceasingly in the heavenly liturgy, with the holy Mother of God, the apostles, all the saints, and the multitude of those who have already entered the kingdom” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC, n. 1187). The liturgy is directed to the Father through Christ. The Holy Spirit prepares us to encounter Christ in the liturgy. The Holy Spirit recalls Christ, manifests Christ, and makes Christ’s work present (CCC, n. 1112). Ultimately, the Holy Trinity is both the principle and end of the Liturgy.

The liturgy is celebrated in the sacraments and in the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours, “which is like an extension of the Eucharistic celebration…” (CCC, n. 1178). The Mass is the highest expression of the Divine Liturgy. The liturgy is by its nature communal, a work of Jesus and the People of God as the (Mystical) Body of Christ.

Is the First Saturdays devotion liturgical?              

The practice of the First Saturdays is related to liturgical participation by receiving Holy Communion, which ordinarily is received in the Mass but may be brought to the infirm. The First Saturdays also requires the sacrament of Penance, which also belongs to the liturgy. On the other hand, the Rosary and the separate, additional meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary are devotions and not part of the liturgy. Still, these devotions are a way of living the common priesthood conferred by the sacrament of Baptism. Receiving the common priesthood means that one becomes a mediator who can participate in the action of the one Mediator, Jesus Christ. Also, these devotions of the Rosary and meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary are at the service of the liturgy, especially Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. These devotions serve the liturgy by disposing us to receive sacramental grace. Through these devotions we are also able to make reparation for sin whether our own or that of others. This reparation occurs according to the degree of charity in the will, which has a corresponding degree of reparatory and meritorious value. 

Which devotion did blessed Paul VI single out as fulfilling the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the role of devotions in supporting the Liturgy?

Now we know from the many statements of the Church, that the Rosary holds a place of preeminence among all devotions. In fact, Blessed Paul VI applied the principles of the Constitution on the Liturgy to devotion to the Blessed Virgin in his Apostolic Exhortation, Marialis Cultus. After explaining Our Lady’s place in the liturgy itself, especially in each Mass and by way of the many feasts in her honor, he goes on to single out the Rosary in a special way as a devotion that fruitfully complements the Liturgy.

Blessed Paul VI said: “Finally, as a result of modern reflection, the relationships between the Liturgy and the Rosary have been more clearly understood….Once the preeminent value of liturgical rites has been reaffirmed it will not be difficult to appreciate the fact that the Rosary is a practice of piety which easily harmonizes with the Liturgy” (Marialis Cultus, n. 48, emphasis ours). As we keep reading, it is important to keep in mind that the First Saturdays includes the Rosary.

In what way did Blessed Paul VI say the Rosary is like the Liturgy?              

Both the Liturgy and the Rosary have a “community nature.” This “community nature” is consistent with the celebration of the Communal First Saturdays. Both draw their “inspiration from Sacred Scripture,” and are “oriented toward the mystery of Christ.” Finally, “both have as their object the same salvific events wrought by Christ” (see Marialis Cultus, n. 48).

In what way did Blessed Paul VI say the Rosary and the Liturgy are different?      

The Liturgy and the Rosary exist on “essentially different planes of reality.” The Liturgy “presents anew, under the veil of signs and operative in a hidden way, the great mysteries of our redemption.” The Rosary, by means of devout contemplation, “recalls these same mysteries to the mind of the person praying and stimulates the will to draw from them the norms of living” (Marialis Cultus, n. 48).

In what way are the Rosary and the Liturgy related?

Blessed Paul VI said, “Once the above substantial difference has been established, it is not difficult to understand that the Rosary is an exercise of piety that draws its motivating force from the Liturgy, and leads naturally back to it, if practiced in conformity with its original inspiration. It does not however become part of the Liturgy” (Marialis Cultus, n. 48, emphasis ours).

In what way did Blessed Paul VI say that the Liturgy benefits from the Rosary?

“In fact meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, by familiarizing the hearts and minds of the faithful with the mysteries of Christ, can be an excellent preparation for the celebration of those same mysteries in the liturgical action and can also become a continuing echo thereof” (Marialis Cultus, n. 48, emphasis ours).

It would follow from the words of Blessed Paul VI that the liturgy in the form of the Mass will benefit greatly from the Rosary recited before Mass, as well as from a separate 15 minute meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary after Mass in fulfilling the practices of the First Saturdays. It may be added that through these practices one is able to be more disposed to receive graces from the infinite power of the Holy Eucharist and to also make reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Can the Blessed Virgin Mary be experienced in the Liturgy?              

In the Encyclical letter Redemptoris Mater, St. John Paul II wrote:

Her motherhood is particularly noted and experienced by the Christian people at the Sacred Banquet, the liturgical celebration of the mystery of the Redemption at which Christ, his true body born of the Virgin Mary, becomes present.

The piety of the Christian people has always very rightly sensed a profound link between devotion to the Blessed Virgin and worship of the Eucharist: this is a fact that can be seen in the Liturgy of both the West and the East, in the traditions of the Religious Families, in the modern movements of spirituality, including those for youth, and in the pastoral practice of the Marian Shrines. Mary guides the faithful to the Eucharist (n. 44, emphasis ours).

It can be said that to participate at Mass in Our Lady’s company can make us all the more receptive to her Son in the Holy Eucharist. As we shall see later in explaining the Communal First Saturdays, her presence before and after Mass, in the Rosary and in the meditation, can only add to our receptivity to Jesus. In this way she encompasses her Son as if in her very womb, her person being that Immaculate dwelling place chosen by Him and filled with the Holy Spirit. One could say this is prophesied in the book of Jeremiah: “For the Lord has created a new thing on the earth: a woman encompasses a man” (NRSVCE, 31:22).

Has the Church made the Rosary less important since the Second Vatican Council?        

No, the Church has not lessened in any way the value of the holy Rosary. In fact, it is quite the contrary. In Rosarium Virginis Mariae (2002), St. John Paul II said,

There are some who think that the centrality of the Liturgy, rightly stressed by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, necessarily entails giving lesser importance to the Rosary. Yet, as Blessed Paul VI made clear, not only does this prayer not conflict with the liturgy, it sustains it, since it serves as an excellent introduction and a faithful echo of the liturgy, enabling people to participate fully and interiorly in it and to reap its fruits in their daily lives (emphasis ours).

Benedict XVI continued to help us see what the Rosary can mean to our daily lives by saying:

May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can ‘water’ society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God (May 3, 2008, Basilica of St. Mary Major).

Explanation

What is the Communal First Saturdays?

The Communal First Saturdays is a monthly scheduled parish service in which the faithful can join together in the four practices requested by Our Lady in reparation to her Immaculate Heart (December 10, 1925). Confessions are available before Mass. The opening prayers and the recitation of the Rosary precede Mass which includes the Communion of reparation. The Mass is followed by keeping Our Lord and Our Lady company while meditating communally for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary. This is done in the form of lectio divina and using Scripture related to the mysteries of the Rosary. A book is used by the faithful to follow the service. Again, all of the four practices are done with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At the end of the service, the Brown Scapular is made available and is received as a sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

This communal celebration of the First Saturdays offers an easier way for people to fulfill the conditions of the First Saturdays. In addition, the communal celebration offers a service through which a much larger number of people are able to practice the First Saturdays, not only for five First Saturdays, but also on a continual basis. In this way, we can obtain the graces of conversion for ourselves and others in greater measure, and so help to bring about a period of peace and the salvation of souls. Please see The Communal First Saturdays book and  The Communal First Saturdays pamphlet.

Motives for Practicing the Communal First Saturdays

Before reading the motives for practicing the Communal First Saturdays below, please see the Summary of Motives for the First Saturdays.

Here we show the motives for practicing the First Saturdays in a communal way.

The motives for the Communal First Saturdays are:

  • To encourage the practice and understanding of the First Saturdays.
  • To make it easier for each person to fulfill what Our Lord and Our Lady requested.
  • To make it easier for a much larger number of people to practice the First Saturdays.
  • Jesus told us that our prayer has greater power when we gather together with others (Mt. 18:19-20).
  • Thus, communal prayer has a greater reparatory value and a greater power to obtain an answer from God.
  • The Communal First Saturdays spread parish by parish will help lead to fulfilling the First Saturdays in greater numbers and on a larger scale.
  • The Communal First Saturdays has many other benefits. The Communal First Saturdays acts as a parish school of spiritual development. The Communal First Saturdays also acts as a parish retreat. The Communal First Saturdays also leads to parish renewal and evangelization. The Communal First Saturdays is an opportunity to receive God’s Mercy and to show mercy. The Communal First Saturdays supports the pro-life movement.

In sum, the Communal First Saturdays provides us with a more efficacious manner of practicing the First Saturdays. For a more detailed explanation, please see The Communal First Saturdays book.

Order of Devotion

The order of devotion refers to the order in which we practice the First Saturdays communally in the Communal First Saturdays. We begin with the sacrament of Reconciliation individually. We then proceed together to pray the Rosary, which is followed by the celebration of the Holy Mass in which we can receive Holy Communion in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Finally, after Holy Mass, there follows the separate 15 minute meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary while keeping Our Lady company. This is done in a communal form of lectio divina.

Also, before the Rosary, there are other supporting prayers that are not required to fulfill the First Saturdays requests. Some of these prayers are from the Fatima message. Some are in response to the Fatima message. All of these supporting devotions may be considered a little extra gift to Jesus and Mary.

One can follow along with the order of worship with the materials available from the Communal First Saturdays Apostolate (for more information, please contact info@communalfirstsaturdays.org).

Schedule

Outline of a Model Communal First Saturday

-1:00   Individual Confessions (Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation)

-0:40   Communal devotion begins with intentions and prayers

-0:30   The Rosary

0:00*   The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with Communion of reparation

0:30   The Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary while keeping Our Lady company

0:50   Litany and Prayers for the Holy Father

0:00* represents whatever the actual starting time for Holy Mass is in the particular parish or community. Thus, the Rosary is 30 minutes before the starting time for the Holy Mass, the intentions and prayers begin 40 minutes earlier than the Holy Mass, and the Meditation would begin 30 minutes after the starting time for the Mass. The Litany and prayers for the Holy Father follow. Other recommended devotions, such as the Pilgrim Virgin Statue Church to Home Visitation, could begin about 60 minutes after Holy Mass. Otherwise, the Communal First Saturdays would close at that time. If there is a Pilgrim Virgin statue reception, the reception of the Brown Scapular would follow. Otherwise, the reception of the Brown Scapular would follow the prayers for the Holy Father. If possible, individual Confessions could begin an hour or more before the Holy Mass. One would need to check the parish schedule for actual times. All times are approximate.

Practices

Individual Confessions

The sacrament of Penance is made available before the service begins. The confession is offered in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Intentions and prayers 

As an extra gift to Our Lord and Our Lady, there is a short period of prayer before the communal recitation of the Rosary. This gives us the opportunity to clearly state the intention to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary when we fulfill each of the 4 practices Our Lady asks us to do (make a Confession, say the Rosary, receive the Communion of reparation, and fulfill the separate Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary in her company). This time before the Rosary also gives us the opportunity to introduce the faithful to the prayers Our Lady and the Angel taught us at Fatima. We also call on all the angels and saints to pray for us.

The Rosary

The communal recitation of the Rosary then begins. The Rosary is offered in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Rosary helps to prepare us for the Holy Mass and the Communion of reparation.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the Communion of Reparation

Our Lady asked us to receive the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. The Communion of reparation is inseparable from the Mass. The Communion of reparation is received in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

(The Communion of reparation can be brought to the sick and homebound).

Meditation

Immediately after Holy Mass, while keeping Our Lady company, there is a 15 minute meditation on those Scriptures which pertain to two or more of the mysteries of the Rosary. This is a more special time for the meditation since the faithful would have just received Jesus in Holy Communion. The leader reads a verse or more of Scripture at a time with pauses for reflection by the faithful. Thus the meditation is a communal form of lectio divina. This meditation in Our Lady’s company is offered in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Litany and Prayers for the Holy Father

The Brown Scapular Reception

The Brown Scapular Reception could take place immediately after the prayers for the Holy Father. If the parish has the Pilgrim Virgin Statue procession and reception, the Brown Scapular Reception could take place after this. For more information on the Brown Scapular, please see The Brown Scapular pamphlet. For information concerning the reception, please see the materials available from the Communal First Saturdays Apostolate (for more information, please contact info@communalfirstsaturdays.org).

The Pilgrim Virgin Statue Church to Home Visitation 

To Establish the Reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Home and Bring Us Closer to Him in the Holy Eucharist

Following the prayers for the Holy Father, it is possible to add a service for the Pilgrim Virgin statue that can be taken to homes, nursing homes, and to various pro-life ministries in imitation of Our Lady’s visitation to Elizabeth.

Before Our Lady visited Elizabeth, Jesus became incarnate within her. In the Mass, Jesus becomes present in the Holy Eucharist and is received in Holy Communion. At the end of the Mass everyone is sent out into the world. The Pilgrim Virgin statue fittingly goes forth from the Mass symbolizing the People of God going forth as the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” The statue is able to represent this because Mary herself is the model of the Church and she represented the Church at the Annunciation in giving her consent to the Incarnation of her Son. As a pilgrim, Our Lady travels to the home to establish the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the home by enthronement of the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is a sign and reminder that we seek to enthrone and retain Jesus in our hearts. Our Lady brings the Fatima message into the home to bring Jesus into our hearts. On Our Lady’s return to the church, she wishes to bring us to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.

It is also true that the Pilgrim Virgin statue can call to mind the Ark of the Covenant, which was the place representing the presence of God at the center of the liturgical worship of the people of Israel. The Church calls Our Lady the new Ark of the Covenant. It is fitting then after the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy the Pilgrim Virgin statue should go forth to the home or other venue of ministry. Then, after the Pilgrim Virgin statue remains in the home or other place of ministry for a week, the host returns the Pilgrim Virgin statue to the parish before the Saturday morning Mass. In this way, the Pilgrim Virgin statue is able to go forth again from the Mass to signify Mary’s desire to bless the home or other setting.

Finally, the Pilgrim Virgin statue has a special affinity with the 15 minute meditation after the First Saturday Mass. The meditation ends with the beginning of the mystery of the Visitation as its “action” step (See also Pope Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini). Mary acts upon the word of the angel by going with haste to the home of Elizabeth. The Pilgrim Virgin statue reception begins with a reenactment of the mystery of the Visitation, and so, the meditation beforehand provides a meaningful connection with the Pilgrim Virgin statue. It is also true the Pilgrim Virgin statue represents the important connection between the Communal First Saturdays and evangelization. For more information, please see The Pilgrim Virgin Statue Church to Home Visitation pamphlet or Appendix A of The Communal First Saturdays book. You can also contact info@communalfirstsaturdays.org.