Public speaking

Hopefully, I won’t forget the Immaculate Conception again when giving any further talks! But if not that, I’m sure it’ll be something else. That’s the way my brain works!

Welcome to article 21 of a weekly series on the formation journey of Br. Josh, MIC, a second-year seminarian at the Marian House of Studies in Steubenville, Ohio. It is the continuation of Br. Josh's previous column, "Novice Notes." Watch for a new column every Friday.

By Br. Josh, MIC 

“I know you’ll do great,” my younger sister, Sarah, encouraged me. 

I was in Redding, California, visiting her house and enjoying a week of quiet “introvert time,” mentally unwinding after the Fall semester. Father Cirilo, the local pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, asked me to present myself to his parishioners after Mass.

I reviewed a few notes from my novitiate training program. Fortunately, I felt much more relaxed than nervous. In hindsight, maybe I would have been better off just a bit nervous. 

It was a Saturday evening Mass, and as the liturgy came to an end, Fr. Cirilo and a lay member of the community gave the announcements. 

Afterward, Fr. Cirilo said, “Now, I would like to present you Br. Joshua Massatt, the brother of Dr. Sarah Massatt. You sometimes hear Sarah singing for us.”

Sarah is a medical doctor and is also musically trained, so she sometimes serves the parish as cantor. 

My journey
I stood up, genuflected toward the altar, and walked to a side podium. I started talking into the microphone without noticing that it wasn’t on. Fortunately, a layman took pity, approached and gently turned it on for me.

I started by explaining a little about my journey. “I was with the Franciscans of the Immaculate for five years, but when that relationship ultimately didn’t work out, I lived with my sister Sarah for two years here at Redding, and this was my parish while I was here.

“At that time, your Fr. Stephen was the pastor. He eventually heard part of my story and told me he wanted to meet me. He took me to his office and encouraged me to try again for my vocation in another place. I listened but didn’t say much, as I was still feeling very sad about how things ended between me and the Franciscans. 

“However, after the meeting, I told the Lord that if He wanted me to try again, I was willing. The very next day, my friend Br. Eliott Yozwiak with the Marians called me and invited me to come and check out the community. I did, and I liked what I heard. Father Don Calloway gave some very good talks — especially about the Virgin Mary — and I joined the Marians.”

Divine Mercy
At this point, I explained who the Marians are and a bit of our history. When I got to our charisms, I made another mistake. 

“We pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory and also support the Church Militant, anyone in need, which allows for a lot of possible ministries.” 

Then, I paused, looking confused. “There is a third pillar of our spirituality but it’s slipping my mind . . . typical of me.”

My sister Sarah suggested, “Divine Mercy?”

“Divine Mercy is a sound tradition we’ve been entrusted with,” I said. “Pope St. John Paul II made us the apostles of Divine Mercy. We have the English and Spanish copyrights of St. Faustina’s Diary, and maintain the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Divine Mercy is key to who we are.”

Of course, I couldn’t talk for very long about the Marians without the Immaculate Conception coming up, and as soon as it did, what previously slipped my mind fell back into place. 

Last but not least
“Ah, yes, that’s the third pillar of our charism that I was forgetting: Devotion to the mystery of the Immaculate Conception.” And the Immaculate Conception, in reality, is the heart of our vocation.

Hopefully, I won’t forget it again when giving any further talks! But if not that, I’m sure it’ll be something else. That’s the way my brain works!

At least I sounded relaxed and confident, and I didn’t mind poking fun at myself. The parish congregation didn’t seem to mind. 

After my little talk ended, I sat down and a couple of women approached me after Mass, looking confused. 

They wanted to know the purpose of my talk. One of them said, “I was expecting you to ask for money but you never did. Do you need any money?” 

I smiled and let her know the Marians would certainly be glad to receive a donation if she felt inspired, but I was just there to encourage people praying for vocations. Their prayers matter. 

Next: "Resting with Jesus." 
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