The great revelation of Fatima is that we must continually pray and sacrifice ourselves for the conversion of sinners. The essence of the message can be summed up in Our Lady’s declaration made during her fourth apparition on the 19th of August 1917 : « Many souls will fall into hell because they have no-one to sacrifice and pray for them. » From the Angel’s revelations in 1916 through to the apparitions of Our Lord or Our Lady to Sister Lucia in 1943, all the divine communications have as their principal objective to ask us to sacrifice ourselves and pray for the conversion of sinners. In return, Our Lady promises us peace in the world. Thus, the less sinners we have, the more likely we are to have peace.
The first request, the most important because of the number of times it was made, is the daily recitation of the Rosary to obtain peace. It is the only request to have been made at each apparition.
- 13th May 1917 : « Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war ».
- 13th June 1917 : « I want (…) you to say the Rosary every day ».
- 13th July 1917 : « I want (…) you to continue to recite the Rosary every day in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war ».
- 19th August 1917 : « I want (…) you to continue to recite the Rosary every day ».
- 13th September 1917 : « Continue to recite the Rosary to bring an end to the war ».
- 13th October 1917 : « Continue saying the Rosary every day ».
The second request concerns sacrifices made for the conversion of sinners. On the 13th of July 1917, during her third apparition, Our Lady asked the little seers : « Make sacrifices for sinners, and say often, especially every time you make a sacrifice : ‘O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’ »
Already, in the spring of 1916, the Angel had taught the following prayer to the little seers : « My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, who do not adore, who do not hope, and who do not love You. »
The sacrifices asked for by Heaven are the careful observance of the duties proper to our state of life. To clarify this, Our Lady and Our Lord appeared several times to Sister Lucia. In a letter from February 1943 to her bishop, Mgr. Ferreira, she gave an account of the contents of these interviews :
« Here is the penance that the good Lord asks for today : everyone should impose a sacrifice on himself in order to lead a just life in the observance of His law. And He desires that this means should be made clearly known to all souls, because many associate ‘penance’ with strict austerity, and as they don’t feel they have the strength or the generosity for this, they become discouraged and fall into a life of acedia and sin.
At midnight between Thursday and Friday, when I was in the chapel (with the permission of my superiors), Our Lord said to me ‘The sacrifice I expect from everyone is the accomplishment of his duty and adherence to my law, that is the penance I ask for and I now expect ».
During the course of the apparition in the summer of 1916, the Angel had already said to the little shepherd children : « Offer to God, at every opportunity, a sacrifice as reparation for the sins which offended Him, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. In this way, you will bring peace to your country. (…) Above all, accept and submit to the sufferings that the Lord will send you. »
The third request concerns the communion of reparation on the first Saturdays of the month. On the 13th of July 1917, Our Lady revealed to the little shepherd children : « I will come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and for the communion of reparation on the first Saturdays of the month. If my demands are heard, Russia will convert and peace will reign. »
Following this, Our Lady and Our Lord specified the means and the ends of this practice, in particular :
- At Pontevedra, in 1925 : the Holy Virgin asks to diffuse the devotion of the first five Saturdays of the month.
- At Pontevedra, in 1926 : details from the Child Jesus on the will of Heaven and the relaxation of the demands associated with the practice of the first five Saturdays (see below).
- At Tuy, in 1930 : a new request from Heaven for the recognition of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with precious explanations on the significance of the number five for the series of first five Saturdays.
Later, Sister Lucia indicated that it was not enough to only do them once, because every time we do them, we can obtain the conversion of a greater number of sinners. How many souls could be saved in this way if all Catholics put as much effort into going to Mass for the first Saturday of the month, as they do for Sundays !
The practice of first Saturdays is made up of four elements. On that day :
- communion of reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
- recite the Rosary,
- meditate for fifteen minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary.
Our Lord was so attached to this devotion that at Pontevedra He relaxed these conditions :
- The confession could be made before or after, with the intention of making reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
- The Communion could be received on another day, provided a priest has been asked permission for this.
To these practices should be added a personal consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the wearing of the scapular, requests which are not formally expressed in the words of Our Lady, but which Sister Lucia always affirmed were part of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.