December 8 is the solemnity (and Holy Day of Obligation) of the Immaculate Conception, when the Church celebrates the day when the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived in her mother’s womb (St Ann) without any stain of Original Sin. This singular privilege was bestowed upon Mary by God through the merits of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice on the Cross, which were applied to Mary before that sacrifice took place. Hence the angel Gabriel saluted Mary with the words “Hail, full of grace….” Being completely filled with God’s grace, there was absolutely no trace of sin, either Original Sin or actual sin, in Mary. This is a great mystery, but we know that God, who is outside the temporal order, and who knows all things and can do all things, can apply the graces of Christ’s redemption to Mary beforehand. Mary’s Immaculate Conception was proclaimed a dogma of the faith to be believed by all in 1854 by Pope Pius IX.
Mary’s Immaculate Conception is the source of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and as Our Lady of Fatima revealed to the three children, “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart,” and that “Jesus desires that the Immaculate Heart of Mary be venerated alongside his Sacred Heart.” In one of the Fatima prayers taught to the three children by the angel we see these words: “…and by the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.” There is a great mystery contained in this prayer, that of Mary sharing in a singular way in the infinite merits of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice.
Part of the Fatima message is that God desires not only that we cultivate devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary but that we also pray (especially the rosary) and offer sacrifices and holy communions in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Hence the Five First Saturdays of Reparation (see this link Fatima/Rosary page at the Knights website). Most Catholics unfortunately haven’t even heard about reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, even many who know something about the Message of Fatima.
As Knights and Dames of the Holy Rosary we should not only fulfill the requests of Our Lady of Fatima regarding the First Saturdays of Reparation each month, but we should make this important practice known to others. The salvation of many souls and world peace depend in large measure upon the fulfillment of the Fatima message, and this is an essential part of that message.
“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!”