SANDY, Utah — Coming from all across Utah, an estimated 10,000 Catholics gathered July 9 for the Diocesan Eucharistic Rally and Mass at the Mountain America Exposition Center in Sandy.
The rally culminated the diocesan phase of the three-year Eucharistic Revival of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is meant “to restore understanding and devotion to this great mystery here in the United States by helping us renew our worship of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist,” according to eucharisticrevival.org.
Bishop Oscar A. Solis led the opening prayer, assisted by Deacon George Reade, diocesan chancellor.
“What a beautiful day God has given us to be gathered as a faith community, filled with joy and ardor for the Eucharist, where we encounter and experience the living presence — the Real Presence — of Jesus Christ our Lord,” the bishop said. “It is an exciting moment for all of us Catholics in the state of Utah. Today we celebrate the importance of the Holy Eucharist as the source and summit of our Christian life and worship.
“As we journey together today, let us keep in mind that the Eucharist is not only something we receive, but something we become,” Bishop Solis said. “If we do it with faith, the Eucharist helps transform our life into a gift to God and to our brothers and sisters.”
The rally included nationally known speakers, opportunities for the sacrament of confession and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a teen rally and a family zone with activities for children.
The day ended with a Mass at which Bishop Solis presided.
The speakers in English were Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, chairman of the USCCB’s doctrine committee; and Timothy O’Malley, director of education at the McGrath Institute for Church Life and academic director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy. Bishop Flores gave his address in Spanish as well. Also addressing the Spanish-speaking community was José Antonio Medina, who teaches at the University of St. Thomas in Texas and at Loyola University in Los Angeles.
All of the presentations were standing-room only.
The eucharistic celebration “is an invitation constantly to enter into a participation in (Christ’s) life,” Bishop Flores said in his presentation on Zoom. “The Eucharist as Participation in the Work of Christ.” He focused his talk on charity, he said, because that is “the key, I believe, for us to kind of appreciate what it is that the Lord gives to us when He makes Himself available and present and active during the eucharistic celebration, the eucharistic sacrifice.”
In the Church, charity is defined as a particular kind of love. Christ showed charity not only through the Eucharist but also through His teaching and in the washing of the feet of the disciples, the bishop said. Charity “forms us to seek those things which Christ seeks, to desire those things which Christ desires. It is transformative message; it’s not simply a doctrine that allows us to understand certain things. … It is also a call to move; that is to say, to be moved into the desire for the kingdom and for the life of the kingdom.”
O’Malley spoke on “Becoming a Eucharistic People.” Peppering his talk with humorous anecdotes, he explored how the Eucharist shapes “the Church into a way of life that is a gift to all those who encounter Christ in the Church. … The task of a eucharistic revival, I want to suggest, is to foster a eucharistic culture, where the Church becomes ever more what the Church is called to be: a communion of love that keeps alive the memory of salvation offered by Christ, empowering us to live this life, this eucharistic life, in the world.”
He encouraged his audience to make a practice of eucharistic adoration, because it leads “us to see the everyday with new, transformed eyes. Learning to see His hidden love invites you to see His hidden love everywhere. In the hungry and the thirsty, the migrant and the prisoner, the child unborn in the womb and the mother carrying that child — there He is.”
An event tailored specifically for Catholic teens included talks by Bishop Solis and Benjamin Acosta, a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students for the last seven years, both focused on the Eucharist.
Bishop Solis told the teens they are “the heart and the life of our Church.”
He emphasized that it is very important for the teens to “recognize the presence of God in your lives. God is in your heart, God is in you and with you everywhere. … The love of God is so strong that it never wants to part ways from us.”
The family zone offered a “spiritual pilgrimage” throughout the state of Utah. The design mimicked the Camino de Santiago, with each of the 21 stops designed to teach participants about different Catholic sites in Utah or information about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The camino offered resources in Braille, presentations in English and Spanish, and other accommodations for those who needed them.
Among activities was a stop where children could have their photo taken with a cutout of Bishop Solis. “The Eucharist at the Mass” station offered the opportunity to see and touch replicas of the vessels used at Mass.
Another stop, “Jumping James,” taught participants about how human bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and offered games such as The Word of the God (Simon Says).
At the station on the Rosary, volunteers passed out strings and showed participants how to make knots as they talked about the history of the prayer.
The Mass July 9 began with almost an hour of worship music provided by a choir, band and orchestra composed of singers and musicians from throughout the state.
As Mass started, Bishop Solis looked across the vast hall filled with faithful, including most of the diocesan clergy, and said, “The only word I can say is ‘wow.’ It’s about time the Catholic community in the state of Utah and the Diocese of Salt Lake comes alive and shows that Catholics are still alive in the state of Utah.”