Deacon Chuck Kelley and Monsignor Timothy Moran discuss Fatima transcript
The following transcript of an upcoming episode of The Deacon’s Table with Deacon Chuck Kelley is provided by WQPH
Deacon: This is Deacon Chuck Kelley with the Deacons Table at WQPH 89.3 FM serving Shirley, Fitchburg and the world. And we are here with Monsignor Timothy Moran.
Monsignor: Welcome to Marblehead.
Deacon: Before we get started, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Monsignor: Yes. I’m a priest from the Boston area. And at one point during my first assignment, which was in Holliston, St. Mary’s Church down there. I was three years there, and I got a call one day and it was an invitation. An invitation to study and to consider doing work with the Vatican Diplomatic Service. I talked to a number of my advisors. I talked to Cardinal Medeiros, who was the archbishop at the time, and he really recommended that I say yes and did. So I was able to do that work for a few years. It included four years of study and then an assignment, first in Rome itself, briefly and then in India for 3.5 years and then Germany for 3.5 years.
Deacon: Oh India. I have to ask, did you meet Mother Teresa?
Monsignor: Oh many times.
Monsignor: Yes, because we were in Delhi and as she came and went on her various trips around the world to sustain the work of the Missionaries of Charity. She would come by the office, come through. So we had many times to spend together, and I got to know her personally over the years, and I was able even to visit her in her later years when she was having heart trouble and ended up in hospitals both here in the United States in La Jolla, California and then again in Rome.
Deacon: What a blessing to get to know her as a saint.
Monsignor: A wonderful person. Yes.
Deacon: I can imagine. And so now you are assigned here in Marblehead.
Monsignor: Yes got here just over a year ago and pastor here at our lady star of the seat.
Deacon: Fantastic! Great! As a member of the Diplomatic Corps seems that you had an assignment to be able to go over and talk with sister Lucia.
Monsignor: Actually. It was after I left the Diplomatic Service, and I was back here in Boston and then Cardinal Law had been invited to celebrate the May 13 Mass in Fatima at the Shrine, and he had asked me to go along,with other priests, Bishop Riley who was an auxiliary at that time and others, to assist him for the planning of that Mass and to carry it out. A number of the priests here, the pastors here in Boston helped him with Portuguese because it’s not a common language for him, though he spoke Spanish, so that he’d be able to do the Mass mostly in Portuguese on the great square outside the Shrine there at Fatima. And because it was the 13th of May and because Cardinal Law was there, he was able then to go to Coimbra, which is a town not too far away and to the Carmelite monastery, which is an enclosed community, and that’s where Sister Lucia was was living and praying at that time. And they invited us for Mass, for breakfast, and then we had a good conversation with this Sister Lucia afterwards.
Deacon: Wow, what, what was that like?
Monsignor: Well, it was kind of amazing. She was much shorter person than I had expected her to be. Very, very warm and welcoming, just a wonderful personality, Even though, you know, the years had counted up for her in that time. Her health seemed to be very good, movement, very good and very eager to talk and to spend some time with us.
Deacon: Wonderful. There were three visionaries at Fatima. Two in, I think it was 2017, that Pope Francis had declared the younger two saints. Any thought of the cause for sainthood for sister Lucia?
Monsignor: I think Sister Lucia will become named a saint. During the Mass, a telegram arrived from Pope John Paul the Second and because I was on the planning team for the liturgy, it was handed to me and to others, and it was a telegram from Pope John Paul the Second saying that he had just decided in favor of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, and he wanted it announced at Mass before the Mass ended.
Deacon: Wow, isn’t that something.
Monsignor: So we had to get together a group of people so that we could announce that fact in many languages. There was over a million people at the Mass, which is not uncommon for May 13th at Fatima, but it’s astounding in itself, but I got to do the English announcement, as we did in many languages as we could find a representative to do it in. So it was a great honor, kind of great, exciting moment, too.
Deacon: That’s great. So responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Pope Francis is going to consecrate Russia and the Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. There is a lot of energy around this. A lot of conversations, actually.
Monsignor: Oh yes. And there will be I’m sure for some time.
Deacon: I’m sure there will be after, as well. Leading up to this, I actually, I met someone just the other day who was very agitated about the method by which it’s being done and that it’s inclusive of the whole world and, and or and not just Russia. This is not inconsistent with what Pope john Paul had done times before. And I think one of the big questions that many people have is, and still have, even though it seems to have been declared this request of the Blessed Mother for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, it has been satisfied. Did that come up in this conversation with sister Lucia?
Monsignor: Actually, it did, because there were a lot of questions going around, even at that time, and she repeated to us what she has in other instances said, in that she said she felt that the requests of our Blessed Mother had been fulfilled. And then she always uses the phrase “and accepted in Heaven”. In other writings or other formal times that she was asked by personages about that question, she almost always uses that same phrase. That it was done “and accepted in heaven”.
Deacon: We could certainly take someone at their word as it would be prudent to do. Was there any additional conversation around how did she come to know that?
Monsignor: She didn’t tell us how she knew that. No, not in any explicit way. But, you know, we know from her memoirs that she continued to have experiences of prayer. Sometimes visionary experiences during her lifetime, too. It didn’t end.
Deacon: So, it didn’t just end?
Monsignor: At the last of the apparitions at the Cova da Iria, there in Fatima. But you know, as she had said, Mary explained to her that Jacinta and Francisco would be coming to heaven pretty soon, but that Lucia had to stay longer, she said. It was quite long, but longer she said, because her duty would be to help promulgate the honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to continue to speak to her essages.
Deacon: Understood. One of the reasons why the consecration has been called for, it seems, from the Blessed Mother, is or one of the results of this would be that peace would be had. That there would be peace for the people on earth. One may ask the question if this has been done, it’s been satisfied, well where is the peace?
Monsignor: Yeah. And oftentimes the phrase that’s used, “peace”, there will be a time of peace or peace for a time. And the peace that’s really important is not just the political peace, though that’s very important because of the danger of violence as we’re seeing right now, and the various fighting between peoples and groups of interest. But the most important peace is that one that is supported by the prayer and the penance and the acts of fasting and other penitentials that Mother Mary is asking for, too, so that our peace is in the heart, because it’s the heart that changes more so than the physical aspect of the world or even the political aspect of the world. The politics follows the hearts, and that’s where the emphasis most needs to be. Now, we see in the bible that the various promises of God have been renewed time and time again because God is always leading us further forward on this side of heaven, we don’t ever reach the promised land as it were.
Deacon: We can’t expect heaven on earth.
Monsignor: And I think in this pursuit of peace is much like that. We’re asked to, by the grace of God and by our prayer and by our trust in the Lord and His ways really to enter that peace. And then as Lucia had that mission to spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, each one of us is asked by God to be that peace for the world. And that’s where we need to put our emphasis right now in terms of amending our ways. Really aiming for every opportunity to be peace for each other and to continue to build that up. It will never come to a point where, well peace was had. so let’s move on to other things.
Deacon: I suppose it’s like if you would get a microcosm, it would be like going to confession right? We go to confession, we feel peace, perhaps for whatever short period of time.
Monsignor: With the purpose of amendment. Never, again.
Deacon: With the firm purpose of amendment. Never again. But yet, we’re human…
Monsignor: And the never again is real, and it has to be real for the sacrament of penance to be itself. And yet we know that there will be another time that we need God’s grace. There will never be a time we don’t. So we can’t be surprised by that.
Deacon: So if the peace was real, and it is, and the promise has been kept and the consecration was made, why do it again?
Monsignor: Well, it looks like it’s a particular time. I mean because that the danger of the violence, and the danger of the violence is right in the very heart of Russia. Now, Russia is a political entity now as a distinct configuration from Ukraine. But Ukraine is the cradle of all of Russia. It started right there in Kiev.
Deacon: Ukraine could probably make the claim that should invade Russia.
Monsignor: It was there that the grand prince was baptized in 988. The Russian culture, religion, language, all have their roots in in the territory now known as Ukraine. The Kievan Rus was the was the Association of Princes throughout that whole area of central and eastern Europe and that became the states of Russia and Belarus and Ukraine. And the political things change all the time but the cultural, the religious, the language, all those, communities of soul, that’s where Ukraine and Russia share of a common taproot. And that’s why joining those two names together in this prayer isn’t like dividing one’s intention. It is stating the whole taproot of the Russian people and that’s what this prayer is going to be for.
Deacon: So, one would say that the intention is actually purified, it’s actually made more intentional.
Monsignor: And more inclusive, inclusive and directly so, not in an extrinsic way, but it’s going to the heart of the matter. And it’s the heart of the controversy, too. People have political ideas of what a greater Russia should or should not look like, and that’s not really our interest.
Deacon: No. And Russia certainly seems to be the unjust aggressor, for sure.
Monsignor: The state of Russia, rather, but the culture still has that unity. So it makes it worse because in very clear terms, it’s fratricidal. Its brothers and sisters against brothers and sisters. That makes the need for the appeal all the more urgent. And our whole world is at a very delicate stage, as was predicted over the years by many interventions of God’s grace. And certainly Fatima is in line with all that. But, when the when the pope wrote to the bishops, he used that phrase, which is very indicative, he says the time has come for us to make this in this manner, and I think we should take that seriously. Oftentimes, it may not be a clear mental intention, but there’s a spiritual realization that the time has come that we must do this and do this in a way now that can be done now because the whole world is focused on Ukraine-Russia. That the time has come to do this and to do this at Mary’s invitation, which is always there, and to do it as a church and invite everybody to share.
Deacon: Sure,this is a nebulous cold War, where there’s really, where the borders here. It’s fairly clear this is represented and brought forward a clear intent.
Monsignor: Yes. And the pope makes a special mention that within Russia herself, very many, many millions of faithful believing Christians, and the Orthodox Church, and other Christians who live in both Ukraine and Russia, they all desire their relationship with Mother Mary and all desire that peace that only grace from God can give. So it’s not praying against Russia as it were, which sometimes you hear in the anxious worries that people, “we didn’t do it in the right way or didn’t do it in in the right manner” or something like this, but we’re praying with the inside and with the outside, all of us together for a very, very important cause.
Deacon: And as I had mentioned at the onset, I did meet someone who is, again, very agitated about the way that it’s being done. How do you speak to….
Monsignor: And worried too.
Deacon: Yeah, yeah. This is not a singular. I think we’ve all met that person, or perhaps we are them ourselves.
Deacon: How do we respond to that?
Monsignor: Well, with the same turn in prayer and trust. Renew your trust in the Lord. Renew your commitment to Mary and her Immaculate Heart, ask her help, ask her intercession, there’s no end. There’s no end to that.
Deacon: Secrets of Fatima, just the word itself, that there are secrets. So, what’s your knowledge of that? There’s many thoughts on whether it’s been fully revealed. Whether it’s been not only been revealed, but then played out. What’s your experience with that and were their conversations with sister Lucia about the secrets of Fatima?
Monsignor: Not directly about the secrets. I’m sure there’s been plenty of conversations about the secrets but when I visited with her, the Pope had not yet made public his reading of that third secret, and it was just about to happen, but it had not yet happened.
Deacon: Which did seem to indicate there was something in there about the Pope. That he would have much to suffer.
Monsignor: That’s the letter that was shown, has this image of a bishop dressed in white and Lucia writes, I think you know, that we suppose that to be the pope together with other bishops, priests, sisters laity, slowly going through a very bombed out, ruined city, climbing a steep hill at the top of which is a cross, and as the person in white gets to the cross, he is killed by soldiers. That’s the image that the letter that was said to be the third secret was confided to the Vatican. I don’t know exactly which year it was. I think in the fifties but it was to be opened around the sixties, and Lucia said at that time when confiding the letter that it would be better to hold it until later because she felt would be better understood at a later time. And so in the sixties, I think the Vatican has said that Pope John the 23rd read it and decided to set it aside for the time being, and that each of his predecessors and successors in turn read it, and then at the time when it was actually published, the decision was made that now is the time to let that let that be seen, And as you know, Pope john Paul the second felt that he was involved in that secret, in the sense that he had a very clear sense that the hand of Mary blocked the bullet that came his way from doing things.
Deacon: Which is now in the crown at Fatima.
Monsignor: Yeah, hanging right in the middle from the inside of the crown right below the cross.
Deacon: Isn’t that something.
Monsisgnor: Yeah. And it’s very visible in the crown, now. Pope Benedict clearly said there are continuing relevances into the future. Now that has not been a secret that there’s a continual relevance of this because it talks about the mystery of iniquity, the necessity for our conversion and the grace by which we can survive and thrive, and that’s the whole history of our salvation, as it were, played out in each generation. So it will continue to be significant.
Deacon: Interesting. This act of consecration will take place on the feast of the Annunciation and will be done as part of a penance service.
Monsignor: Every year the pope publicly celebrates the sacrament of penance. It started with John Paul the second, I believe. And it would be a general introduction to the sacrament with readings and a general examination of conscience and a general prayer of contrition followed by individual confessions with individual priests. And the pope will actually get into one of the booths and hear some people’s confessions. And then as hat service is drawn to a close, they’re expecting the service to be about an hour and a half. So for us it would begin at noon, that service would begin noon time our time and would go to about 1:30. And at the very end of the service, this act of consecration of Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary will take place.
Deacon: What’s the significance of having this happen alongside of a penance service?
Monsignor: Well, I think you see right in the earliest reports of Fatima and the apparitions, that we’re called to prayer and penance and to the rosary, so that the gifts of peace can be secured for all. That’s a continual theme and that’s not new with Fatima. It’s been part of Mary’s various apparitions over the centuries and all. and it’s part of the word of God to us, and she who heard that word, and embraced that word in the Annunciation, which we’ll be celebrating tomorrow, that she’s the vehicle of that word, not a surprise.
Deacon: Yeah, her fiat. Joyfully, yes.
Monsignor: Yes, it echoes right through Fatima, but it’s always the message of going from death to new life, from sin to grace as God works in us. And thanks be to Him.
Deacon: And so when you’re you were meeting with Sister Lucia, and so if she didn’t necessarily speak of the secrets, you had multiple conversations with her. I can only imagine what I would ask her, if you had the opportunity. What did you ask her? And what else might she have shared that you could share with us now?
Monsignor: Yeah, no, it was mostly in terms of her read of the controversy going around in terms of have the requests been fulfilled. And I think she showed a pastoral concern that for the anxiety that sometimes happens when good things are being done but oftentimes the anxiety comes along, too. In fact, very early on if you look at her memories, memoirs, even commenting on when she first had the apparitions and the upset that it brought into her personal life, into her home life, everything seemed on edge a little bit. And at one point she began to wonder, well, maybe because I’ve seen bad effects out here, it’s causing people to to worry and wonder and to be upset. Maybe it’s not a good thing. And then she came to the realization, oh indeed it is a good thing. And it’s that goodness that sometimes will occasion upset around in view of the further change that God wants to bring about, and again, that’s that achieving of the peace of the mind and heart that trusts in God.
Deacon: And we can test things by and we’re told to you, you’ll know them by their fruits. Right?
Deacon: So what can we expect out of this? So we’re recording this Thursday, the day before the consecration. Not that you can forecast the future, but what can we expect, what fruit might we expect from this?
Monsignor: I think you can expect everything and anything which is not a cop out because sometimes people would expect is this going to be world stage political upset somehow or another, that things will be forced to be this way or another way or is what’s going to happen, that some heart turns to God, and I the gospel tells us there is more rejoicing in heaven in that one person who seeks repentance, that one lamb that was lost that comes home. More joy than 99 who were doing the right thing.
Deacon: So no matter what, this is not business as usual.
Monsignor: You can be assured because we know God, we know God’s grace. It’s working miracles all the time, so I have no doubt there’s going to be miracles galore tomorrow, but they’re also have been today, and it will be the day after, too. Now, whether this, has a dramatic effect on the current war, we can certainly pray that it do, and I would not the least surprised if it doesn’t.
Deacon: Speaking of miracles, the Miracle of the Sun. Amazing to read this, that even the secular media, could not have bowed out of this. They saw it. It was witnessed. There were pictures of it. There were, eyewitnesses to the extent of no other miracle before, that I’m aware of.
Monsignor: A large scale of it.
Deacon: A very large scale, for sure. Yeah, it was. It had been raining and pouring. People were in the mud. Within an instant, all the clothes are dry, conversion stories, healings and things of that nature. One might ask, where are those miracles today? Where is that scale of miracle?
Monsignor: Well even there again, if you read the accounts and even for the preparation of the beatification and canonization of Jacinta and Francisco, even though many people witnessed various aspects of it, not all of their experiences were exactly the same. Some saw the disc in spinning, some didn’t, some saw the colors and some didn’t, some saw the colors but didn’t see the disk. Some very deeply religious believers didn’t see anything.
Deacon: Right. Isn’t that interesting?
Monsignor: But yet, the miracle did take place.
Deacon: Maybe the better question is not where are the miracles since why are we so reticent to believe that it actually happened? Why isn’t the total world converted because of not only that story, but then Our Lady of Guadalupe, and so on. You could just name all of these miraculous things. You can go today to Mexico and see the Tilma. The Eucharistic miracles, they’re documented, and you can see them. They’re actually even happening still. How is it that we can experience these and not have that change of heart?
Monsignor: Because the gospel would tell us, in terms of the rich man who had Lazarus at his door, and Lazarus’ name means God is my help. And then as Lazarus was there to help the rich man see a better way of life. He had Lazarus right at his door and ignored him. So afterwards as they’re yelling across the heavens to Abraham and Lazarus in his bosom, and the rich man says “well send a messenger to my brothers, so they don’t end up here” and what does Abraham say? Even if someone rises from the dead, they’re not going to believe. He did rise from the dead,and we still struggle with our belief but the patience of God, is being enacted, and that’s part of the cost. This slowness of belief is part of the cost. And that’s why God doesn’t impose His will. He proposes that better way. If he forces the world to be peaceful, and he could. He could put everything in its place. Everything in order. But if He forces it, that wasn’t His aim. His aim was to win our love. And that’s why it’s a messy business. It’s in light of the freedom of that love that Gods really awaits with all His heart. We’re made in the image and likeness of God and the place where that image is most clearly seen is this exquisite but sometimes unbelievable freedom that God gives the human heart, that he doesn’t make us be good. He implores us to be good.
Deacon: It’s an awesome thing.
Monsignor: It is.
Deacon: And it’s also, it’s a it’s such a terrible thing, I think to rob someone of this. To take away their free will and to say you must do this or to be as patient I guess as God is.
Monsisgnor: Yeah. And in the meantime, a lot of people are getting hurt and things like that. We need to be able to protect as much as we can all the souls that we can, certainly trying actively to protect the innocence of the souls of our brothers and sisters. Now here in the United States, we Catholics need to do a lot more on that regard.
Deacon: Particularly for the unborn, right?
Monsignor: Yeah. I mean the life of the unborn, but then the life of the souls of those who have been born, they’re exposed to so many dangers. We should not be indifferent to that. In fact, one of the readings early in lent really challenges us. Don’t be indifferent when your neighbor’s life is at stake is the phrase that was used.
Deacon: Isn’t it so.
Monsignor: And for the moral life, we really have to take a lot of better care in terms of that. And that’s one of the themes of the current war. We get very annoyed for instance, when from the Russian side, they say, well look at those Western people, they’re awash in filth and moral decay, but some of that’s true. We don’t like hearing it, but we’re not taking very good care of our spiritual health as a people, we should be doing much more. We should be a shining city on the hill as the images.
Deacon: Certainly makes it difficult to point over there and to know that there’s work to be done.
Monsignor: And that’s why the message of Fatima begins with prayer, penance and conversion. And peace will follow from that.
Deacon: The First Five Saturdays. Another request by the Blessed Mother. Your thoughts on that? Has that been responded to?
Monsignor: I’m glad to see it. It’s a big devotion. Coming here, one of the surprises was that we did not have a Saturday morning Mass because that would be the ordinary way of of celebrating that,rather than the four o’clock Mass for Sunday for that. And so we started it up.
Deacon: Just on the first or every Saturday?
Monsignor: Every Saturday because every Saturday is an optional memorial in honor of our Blessed Mother, when there’s not another assigned feast. We take that, and we have a good following.
Deacon: Good. And the rosary,of course, which is, the great devotions. We have so many parishes I know have groups have started up rosaries either before or after Mass,and I know that it’s such a powerful prayer. I remember meeting a monk up at St. Benedict’s Abbey and he said to me, “it’s it’s not hard to become a saint, you just have to keep praying”, and and he had his rosaries and he, emphatically clutching his rosary and that’s really the call, right? I guess that’s what the Blessed Mother really wants us to become saints right?
Deacon: With God, the Big Boss.
Deacon: The big Boss wants it, so the Blessed Mother wants it, as well.
Monsignor: And she knows the best way because she’s the first among us to follow in that way.
Deacon: Devotion to the Blessed Mother at all. There’s many people who have difficulty with that. I know that the Pope, Pope John Paul had said at one point, he said, we can’t be afraid to love the Blessed Mother too much. She always leads us to Christ.
Deacon: And in the way the Orthodox, for instance, traditions honor her presence and honor her role is a great ally in this prayer that’s going to be taking place tomorrow.
Deacon: Yeah, Theotokos.
Deacon: And there’s a very famous icon of the reigning Madonna, as it were. Mary’s on kind of a big chair with Jesus on her lap and the image is that she is the czar of this arena of Russia, that when all is said and done, what we would call a queen, queen of peace, but that image that she is the head of the Russian family, as it were.
Deacon: And there’s so many icons that have come out of the Our Lady of Vladimir I believe was one. Wasn’t that flown over Russia at one point, if I’m recalling that correctly?
Monsignor: I don’t know the details of that, but I do remember hearing something of that.
Deacon: It was very rich in devotion to her,
Monsignor: This particular famous icon of Mary as the reigning mother had been brought to Fatima in past times, past years. It goes around. Just as a Fatima statue often times is making its way as a pilgrim statute to occasion people to think more and think better and focus that work of prayer and penance and conversion that we need.
Deacon: Thank you for your service as a priest, for all the years that you’ve been devoted to the church, to Our Lady and to God Himself, as in persona Christi capitas, in the person of Christ.
Monsignor: Is there something better I should do?
Deacon: I can’t think of it. I can’t think of it, but I want to thank you, and I also want to thank you for your time. It’s been wonderful. Any closing thoughts on the event tomorrow and Fatima or anything that you care to share.
Monsignor: I did share we in this neighborhood we have a Ukrainian Catholic community next door in Salem, and they invited folks over for a prayer vigil early on in this current conflict, and I was able to go and many of my parishioners had gone over there, too. And there, I got up just for a moment of greeting and recalled when I visited Kiev Keefe, and I visited the Monastery of the Caves, and I was able to participate in the sacred liturgy that was being celebrated there on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity by their calendar, which is one of the grandest feast of the year. And I just remember hearing the prayer in the song and the chant of the liturgy, and there are just some moments when you hear the prayer, it’s not just going through the rigmarole of a melody and the words and getting through all of the things that have to be done for. But it was truly a soul at prayer, and it was very, very hopeful and very, very spiritually moving. There was a great grace afoot there. I was a bit outside of it because I’m not an Orthodox Christian, and I was a guest in their midst, but just the beauty and the depth and the genuineness. People who have gone through terrible persecutions during, before and during and after World War Two, that brutally affected by everything that had gone on during those years, and this monastery that had been destroyed and now rebuilt and now is a house of prayer. And there’s the quality of the prayer that was going up to God was astoundingly beautiful, and that’s a great hope. God’s grace is working, and it’s doing marvelous things, and if it does bring us a surprise tomorrow, not at all surprised.
Deacon: So we’ll keep praying and I want to thank you for your prayers and on that note, would you close us out with the prayer?
Monsignor: Sure. Let us pray in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Father in heaven. we give you thanks for your many gifts to us, but especially the gift of your mother to be our very own. We ask you Lord to open our minds and hearts to your presence, to your grace and let her be the means by which your word comes to new birth in our lives. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Deacon: Thank you so much, Monsignor Moran.
Monsignor: Thank you. Thanks for coming up.
Deacon: This is Deacon Chuck Kelley with WQPH 89.3 FM. We’ve been talking with Monsignor Timothy Moran in anticipation of the Consecration of Russia and the Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. God bless you. Thank you so much and have a wonderful evening.