James Monti opened his seminar on Eucharistic Adoration at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie by making an admission most novice public speakers would not make. He confessed that his talk was his initial foray in public speaking.
Well, he could have fooled me.
I daresay he might have fooled the rest of the more than 200 people gathered in the seminary’s Prayer Hall Feb. 16 for his presentation, “I Am With You Always,” sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Liturgy.
Monti was on familiar turf in more ways than one. We can start with his incredible depth of knowledge and obvious devotion on the subject of Eucharistic Adoration, which was apparent from the many books he assembled at arm’s length for frequent reference during his presentation, which lasted more than an hour. That doesn’t count a question-and-answer exchange with his appreciative audience.
There was also the fact that Monti could claim a certain “home field” advantage because he works in the seminary’s Corrigan Library, just steps from where he was speaking.
He also has a track record in the field of Eucharistic Adoration, having co-authored two books with the late Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.—“In the Presence of Our Lord” and “Praying in the Presence of Our Lord With the Saints.”
As he made his way through the 19-point outline he assembled, it was clear that Monti did not take his speaking assignment lightly.
He literally almost went back to the time of Christ for Point No. 4, which said that reservation of the Holy Eucharist for the sick was already taking place by the second century, and that Eucharistic Adoration outside Mass was initiated by the eighth century.
Another interesting section involved a series of “practical tips” for Adoration, such as the importance of genuflection and kneeling that was beneficial even for a person reasonably knowledgeable about their faith.
Bob Zottoli of St. Gregory Barbarigo parish in Garnerville later told me Monti’s talk “resonated” with him. Zottoli and I first met four years ago when I visited St. Gregory’s for the 10th anniversary of the parish’s perpetual Adoration chapel. At the seminary, he sat with his pastor, Father Joseph LaMorte, and Jennie Morf, another parishioner who is active in Eucharistic Adoration.
It wasn’t until Monti started to speak that Zottoli realized a pamphlet for Eucharistic Adoration at St. Gregory’s contains a quote from Monti.
In the seminary audience, Zottoli also discovered something else. Parishioners from all over the archdiocese share his devotion and reverence for Eucharistic Adoration. “I felt like I wasn’t alone,” he said.
That devotion, he told me, quickly jumpstarted his faith life when he first started volunteering 14 years ago. Within the first 10 seconds of Eucharistic Adoration, he said he experienced a major change.
“It was my full conversion to the faith,” Zottoli said. “I got the message that I’m home.”
He said it was enlightening to learn from Monti “how deep in our Catholic history” adoring the Blessed Sacrament goes back.
“It’s the gift that Jesus gave us, and it’s truly a blessing,” Zottoli said.
The preparation and passion exhibited by a first-time speaker was another gift for those who were present for Monti’s seminar. He deserves another speaking invitation soon.