Yesterday we celebrated The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). Corpus Christi celebrates the institution of the Eucharist, by Christ, on Holy Thursday. If you are interested in the history go here: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04390b.htm.
Many parishes celebrate by having a Corpus Christi procession. Here is one from Ireland:
The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the Sacraments. (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1113)
Now we are getting into the heart of Catholicism. Catholics are a Sacramental people. This is a difficult concept for our separated brothers and sisters to understand. Sacraments are one of the great mysteries of faith. Mysteries are to be contemplated and not solved. It takes a lifetime of prayer, study, and immersion in the liturgical life of the Church to—in the words of St. Paul see indistinctly as in a mirror… Our goal is to grow in holiness so that we can see in the glass less darkly.
Peter Kreeft who is a Professor of Philosophy at Boston College (Catholic) says that the biggest shock to him when he became a Catholic was the idea of Sacraments. He thought them scandalous. Jesus—fully human and fully God—is really present in what looks like a wafer (a rather absurd one at that) and in really bad tasting wine. That is shocking!! If we Catholics did not take it for granted we would be shocked too. Sunday Mass would be standing room only.
Sacraments are messy. They were born in the barnyard, in blood and muck and smells. Jesus entered into human history by being born in a stable. His crib was a feeding trough.
Sacraments are not just nice rituals that make us feel good. They are the ordinary way that Jesus Christ enters into a relationship with us. In the sacraments, Jesus is made truly present. It is through the Sacraments that Jesus invites is to participate in the very life of God.
It is the ordinary way that we receive God; Sacraments are the ordinary way that God touches us so that we can know him and enter into union—communion—with him.
Sacraments as Liturgy
Liturgy means a public work or a service on behalf of the people. In the Catholic Christian tradition it means the participation of the People of God in the work of God. (CCC 1070)
Since liturgy is an encounter between Christ and the Church, it is a foretaste of heaven. Liturgy recalls God’s saving intervention throughout human history, and makes them present. God’s saving works in the Old Testament were a “prelude to the work of Christ by the Paschal Mystery of his passion, death, resurrection, and Ascension into glory.
For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth ‘the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.'”3 For this reason, the Church celebrates in the liturgy above all the Paschal mystery by which Christ accomplished the work of our salvation. (CCC 1067).
In the Vatican II document on the Sacred Liturgy, we learn that in the Liturgy of the Church, Christ act as the High Priest. It is through Liturgy—especially Sacraments—that we are made holy. It is the way that God has chosen to confer sanctifying grace. Every Liturgical celebration is an action of Christ the High Priest (and his Body the Church). Therefore, no other actions can be more sacred or more effective in bringing us closer to God.