A Marian procession winds through the grounds of the Oregon State Capitol June 30 at the close of the Sacred Liturgy Conference organized by Schola Cantus Angelorum. Theme of the gathering was how the Eucharist transforms individuals and the world. (Marc Salvatore/Catholic Sentinel)
A Marian procession winds through the grounds of the Oregon State Capitol June 30 at the close of the Sacred Liturgy Conference organized by Schola Cantus Angelorum. Theme of the gathering was how the Eucharist transforms individuals and the world. (Marc Salvatore/Catholic Sentinel)
SALEM — Hundreds gathered at the Salem Convention Center for Schola Cantus Angelorum’s sixth annual Sacred Liturgy Conference to hear speakers examine the year’s theme — transfiguration in the Eucharist.

Attendees and event volunteers alike were touched by the theme and the speeches based on it.

“What I’m getting from this conference is it all goes back to Jesus Christ, it all goes back to the Eucharist,” said Father Alex Rodarte, a priest visiting from the San Bernadino Diocese in California. This was Father Rodarte’s first time attending the Sacred Liturgy Conference. He said he was taking away formation and spiritual nourishment from the trip.

“It’s given me something that I’ve been looking for,” said Father Rodarte.

“You have to make [the way we worship] beautiful for our people,” he said. “That’s my responsibility as a priest and that’s very refreshing for me.”

Father Rodarte came with an acquantaince from California, Daniel Lopez, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at St. John Seminary in Camarillo. He too was impressed.

“It’s allowing me to encounter Christ … especially through the sacraments and through the rites of the church,” said Lopez.

Lopez went on to say that the conference was providing him with formation to be holy and to minister to God’s faithful through the Eucharist.

Eden Davis, a parishioner at St. Edward Parish in Keizer, volunteered at the Salem gathering.

“And I’ve been several years and every year, the speakers are just very erudite and I grow exponentially from hearing them speak about the topic.”

Davis said she particularly appreciated the theme, adding that the conference brought the Eucharist to the fore for her through discussions on the ancient Church Fathers and documents.

“Now I’m going to be looking to be transformed,” she said.

Local speakers included Msgr. John Cihak, Msgr. Richard Huneger, Dominican Father Gabriel Mosher, Father Theodore Lange and Msgr. Gerard O’Connor. There were also international and national speakers including Bishop Athanasius Schneider from Astana, Kazakhstan, Benedictine Father Cassian Folsom from Norcia, Italy, and Bishop James Conley from Lincoln, Nebraska.

Archbishop Alexander Sample celebrated the opening Mass in the Ordinary Form and preached the homily. He thanked those attending the Sacred Liturgy Conference, saying he is grateful for their zeal for the liturgy. He said it comforts him that so many worshippers are curious about it and attentive to it.

He raised the sentiment that he worries about the proliferation of a watered-down version of Catholicism that focuses too much on the works of mercy and forgets that the Eucharist is the core of the Catholic faith.

Works of mercy are important, but they go hand-in-hand with reverent, sacred liturgy, the archbishop said. It is not either/or. It is always “and.”

Msgr. O’Connor talked about his experience creating a Eucharist-centered parish in Massachusetts, implementing adoration and greater reverence for the Lord.

“Putting prayer, the Eucharist and Mass at the center of parish life, it changes everything,” he said.

In his lecture, Bishop Conley reflected on 1 Peter 1:16-18: “For it is written, ‘Be holy because I [am] holy.’ Now if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold.”

The Nebraska bishop stressed the importance of silence in worshipping the Lord.

“Becoming holy requires that we abandon the pleasures of our culture of distraction and the comforts of our habits,” Bishop Conley told the crowd. “Becoming holy requires that we enter into the most mysterious place we can fathom — the mystery of silence, in which we are alone with ourselves and with our Lord.

“The Lord is waiting to transform us in the deep intimate friendship of holiness and this can be terrifying,” he went on to say. “And yet there’s nothing more satisfying because there’s nothing more satisfying than the love of Jesus Christ.”

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