By S.L. Hansen
CRETE (SNR) - The Schoenstatt sisters who serve at the Cor Mariae shrine in Crete are welcoming all the faithful who wish to observe First Saturday devotions. The sisters are providing virtually everything one needs to complete the devotion.
“The Five First Saturday devotions are based on Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima,” explained Sister M. Barbara Ebbe, I.S.S.M.
Saint Lúcia of Fatima, one of the three children who saw Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, was again visited by the Blessed Mother with the Child Jesus in a convent at Ponteverdra, Spain in 1925.
Saint Lúcia reported a new message from the Blessed Mother, who said, “I promise to assist at the hour of death with the grace necessary for salvation all those who, with the intention of making reparation to me, will, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, say five decades of the beads, and keep me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the 15 mysteries of the Rosary.”
In 1930, Saint Lúcia was blessed with a vision of the Lord Jesus, who explained that the Five First Saturdays were important because of the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
He enumerated these as: blasphemies against her Immaculate Conception, against her perpetual virginity, against the divine and spiritual maternity of Mary, blasphemies involving the rejection and dishonoring of her images, and the neglect of implanting in the hearts of children a knowledge and love of this Immaculate Mother.
These sad truths are one of the reasons that the Five First Saturday devotions must be observed with the intention of making reparation.
Sister M. Barbara said that the Schoenstatt community is committed to helping the faithful fulfill all the requirements of this devotion.
“We’re trying to help Our Lady,” she said.
On each of the First Saturdays from July through November, a priest begins hearing confessions at 10:30 a.m. The Rosary can be prayed simultaneously in the beautiful chapel. At 11 a.m., Mass begins. The sisters provide a little lunch immediately following, and then the group gathers for a meditation on one of the Mysteries of the Rosary.
Of course, the devotions can be observed anywhere, not just at the Schoenstatt shrine.
“They can pray the Rosary on the way here, or at home,” Sister M. Barbara suggested. “They can go to confession a day or two before.”
She also noted that while the Schoenstatt sisters started their Five First Saturday devotions earlier this month, it’s not too late for anybody to start coming.
“If people missed July, they can go into December and do that month on their own,” she encouraged.
She hopes more people will welcome the opportunity to gather at the Shrine, which is a place for pilgrimage and grace.
“By coming to any place of pilgrimage and grace, we are opening our hearts to the Lord,” Sister M. Barbara assured.
She said the first grace that can be received at the Shrine – that of going on a pilgrimage – is much like what Peter, James and John experienced during the Transfiguration.
“’It is good to be here,’” she quoted Saint Peter. “It’s peaceful and quiet.”
That atmosphere of peace and focus on Christ leads to the second grace Sister M. Barbara referred to, the grace of being at home.
“Where I am at home, I really am myself,” she reasoned. “It’s the grace of interior transformation, becoming a better person.”
These graces can certainly be life-changing, according to Sister M. Barbara.
“People are opening up their hearts and also being given more of the ability to understand God and see that God is also a God who is active in their lives,” she said.
She also wanted to assure people that the Shrine is neither a long journey nor hard to find for anybody in the surrounding area. It is located just two miles away from Crete’s Wal-Mart Supercenter, north on Highway 103.
“They should just come!” Sister M. Barbara exclaimed. “Christians are supposed to penetrate the world with the spirit of Jesus.”
She added, “If we really do [this devotion], the world would be a much different place.”
No reservations are necessary. All are welcome to the next First Saturday devotion at Cor Mariae Aug. 2. There is no cost, but a free-will donation will be collected during lunch.