S GUIDE TO COVENANTAL THEOLOGY
9 Nature Is Grace
Catholic reflection on the sacrament of Matrimony seems to be one
of the very few areas within current Catholic 'traditional' thought in
which hints of a covenantal theology appear and in which the time-less
is at least partially if perhaps not quite refused -- however little this
refusal may impinge in any systematic way on the rest of that thought.
There is little question that this at least partial refusal of the time-
less among loyal Catholic theologians regarding the sacrament of
Matrimony, and their turn toward categories and language in this area
that is at least implicitly more sacramental in focus, and therefore is
more covenantal and 'time-full,' comes as a direct result of the
encouragement and leadership of John Paul II himself.
So, if I use some of the vocabulary of Covenantal Theology to
discuss some themes within both recent magisterial proclamation and
recent loyal Catholic thought regarding Matrimony, that may help to
further illustrate some of what Fr. Keefe means by words such as
"covenantal" and "free response," and their relationship to that other
completely childish thought, "Nature is Grace."
For example, one can readily understand the Church's refusal
(notably in Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae) of the New Class
"principle of totality" within moral thought in terms of Christ's
complete refusal of the time-less, his complete "emptying" into 'flesh.'
This 'principle of totality' states that a particular act -- usually but
not necessarily a sexual act -- can never be judged just by itself "in
isolation," but can only be evaluated by the "totality" -- of the
In Humanae Vitae the Holy Father brought up this 'principle' by
name, and plainly rejected its conclusions and its manner of
argumentation by the conclusions and manner of argumentation of the
Within the vocabulary of Covenantal Theology, the 'principle of
totality' is quite readily seen as a dehistoricized cosmology. For
instance, some of the 'totality' of an on-going marriage only exists in
time that hasn't even happened yet. You can't get more time-less than
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.