More than any dogma, practice, devotion or moral norm, what sets Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity apart from all the other Christian churches is the belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Here, the Catholic concept of sacrament takes its boldest stand: a visible sign that is what it signifies.
The words of Christ at the last supper mean what they appear to affirm: "This is my Body. This is my Blood. Do this in memory of me."
Catholicism's radical understanding of Christ's intention and the meaning of his gesture has long made other versions of Christianity queasy. Outside the Church, 'communion' becomes a social gesture, a symbol of spiritual belonging, a ritual recalling a moving historical moment... anything but what it really is.
Catholic understanding of the Eucharist stems from our understanding of the Incarnation, the first sacrament. "And the word became flesh and dwelt among us."
A God who does not shy away from the human condition in all its messiness. A God who considers no aspect of Creation unworthy of its Creator. A God who teaches dependence on one another, selfless giving to one another, being truly there for one another... and does it personally.
This world would be a lonely, lonely place were it not for that small sanctuary light that burns day and night, oblivious to the shallowness and disregard of many, in chapels all over the earth. As long as that light flickers, we have everything to live for.