One of my very favorite essays is Andre Dubus’ “On Charon’s Wharf” (in his collection, Broken Vessels). He writes:
My belief in the sacrament of the Eucharist is simple: without touch, God is a monologue, an idea, a philosophy: he must touch and be touched, the tongue on flesh, and that touch is the result of the monologues, the idea, the philosophies which led to faith; but in the instant of the touch there is no place for thinking, for talking; the silent touch affirms all that, and goes deeper: it affirms the mysteries of love and mortality.
A wise monk-liturgist once wrote that touch is the fundamental sacrament. Among the horrors of clergy sex abuse is that it perverts touch and thus, almost demonically, attacks the sacramental order itself.
Those who were present or who saw on television Pope Benedict’s encounter with children with disabilities yesterday, at Dunwoodie, witnessed the sacramental power of a loving and enabling touch — a blessing, not a curse.