Ever since Christ invited Doubting Thomas—for whom a vision of the resurrected Son of God was not enough—to put his hands into the visible wounds, Christian faith has engaged with all five senses of the body.
Faith most obviously comes through hearing, as St. Paul first taught us. But in ways subtle and sublime it also is related to each of the four other senses, even the sense of smell and taste.
Hearing from a personal God: Faith, as Scripture tells us, comes through hearing. But why? Why not reading, for example? The encyclical Lumen Fidei (most written by Pope Benedict XVI) points to the story of Abraham as an example. Abraham’s encounter with God, Benedict notes, was marked by hearing a divine voice. This happened in his native city, his new home in the future promised land, and on the mountain where he took Isaac. While it may be lost on modern audiences, in the ancient world this encounter with God through hearing marked the God of the Israelites as a God of the person, rather than a god of place (or one associated with a particular situation). Click here to read more about why faith comes through hearing.
Faith as mystical vision: By faith in Christ, Christ comes to live within us, to dwell within us, as St. Paul writes and Galatians 2 and Ephesians 3. Citing these verses, the encyclical Lumen Fidei (most written by Pope Benedict XVI) says that faith in Christ becomes a sort of mystical seeing. We cannot see God the Father, but Christ does. “The Christian can see with the eyes of Jesus and share in his mind, his filial disposition, because he or she shares in his love, which is the Spirit. In the love of Jesus, we receive in a certain way his vision,” Benedict writes.
Touched through the sacraments: Christ’s ministry of healing often involved a personal touch. Christ did not simply wave his hands over the eyes of the blind man; he rubbed mud into them. The woman who was hemorrhaging was healed by touching His garment. His followers had the opportunity to be touched by Christ, but what about believers today? “By his taking flesh and coming among us, Jesus has touched us, and through the sacraments he continues to touch us even today; transforming our hearts, he unceasingly enables us to acknowledge and acclaim him as the Son of God. In faith, we can touch him and receive the power of his grace,” Benedict writes in Lumen Fidei(co-authored with Pope Francis). Benedict invokes the words of Augustine: To touch him with our hearts: that is what it means to believe.
‘Taste and see’: “O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet: blessed is the man that hopeth in him,” so proclaims Psalm 34:8. If it is through sacraments in general that we are touched by God, it is through the Eucharist that we taste Him. Such at least has been the interpretation of Church Fathers like Sts. Athanasius and Augustine, according to the Haydock Bible Commentary