S GUIDE TO COVENANTAL THEOLOGY
Thus, "Sacred Scripture and Tradition," magisterial proclamation,
and the sacraments themselves, can only be understood by standing to
understand within the Church's liturgy and her free response to that
This standing within the 'time-full,' within the Church's liturgical
mediation of her faith, gives Catholic theology its only standing as
Catholic theology. It is not an option for it, not some 'new' approach,
which can itself be 'understood' (dismissed) by standing 'outside' it.
Catholic theology which does not take the Eucharistic Event itself as
its "prime analogate," as Fr. Keefe calls it, automatically declares that
some time-less structure is prior to and conditions the New Covenant,
and immediately (if, one would hope, temporarily) loses its status as
If there had been any doubt previously, Humanae Vitae, and the
papal proclamations subsequent to it, have marked the refusal of
contraception as being an irrevocable element of human existence in
the New Covenant. Catholic theologians may thus articulate the
meaning of this refusal, in terms of questions of higher and higher
quality, but they do this solely in terms of the New Covenant itself.
They may ask how the meaning of the refusal is enlightened by -- and
enlightens -- Sacred Scripture, Tradition, magisterial proclamation, and
the actual liturgy of the Church. They may not make either the refusal
or their questions 'reasonable' or 'meaningful' on any other grounds. In
The complete refusal of contraception given in
Humanae Vitae was not 'correct.' It was sanity -- a
reality of human existence in the New Covenant
conditioned or necessitated by nothing, not even
'correctness' or even 'reasonableness.'
'Correctness,' even 'reasonableness,' only become possible within
the reality given as the Good Creation by the New Covenant. In 'flesh'
apart from the Eucharistic Event, nothing is 'correct' or 'reasonable,'
and all is "vanity." Such might be the re-working found necessary in
Another such 'trivial' re-working would probably have to occur
regarding the free, covenantal relationship between the public work of
the Church, and the 'private' work of the social and civil order.
From the standpoint of any theology that exists as Catholic because
its "prime analogate" is the Eucharistic Event, magisterial
proclamation has placed the refusal of contraception as given as an
1. Another way of saying the same thing: acts in
time are "vanity" unless they are acts of worship
in time. The basic intellectual difficulty comes
from the traditional removal into the 'natural'
world -- meaning, the world of 'flesh' alone -- of
all human acts except sacramental acts of
worship. By the logic of all dehistoricized
cosmology, human acts couldn't be 'free' unless
they were removed from any real connection to
sacramental acts and placed in a world of 'pure
nature.' Otherwise -- by the same logic, and
contrary to the faith -- all human acts would
simply be subsumed into, Caused by, the
supernatural realm. But then, of course, not only
is the Eucharist removed from us (it's in one
'place' and we are some 'place' else), but also, we
are removed from the Eucharist, and human acts
are 'flesh' alone -- pure "vanity." Further, however
impossible a strict re-conversion of all the
intellectual categories of moral theology to the
New Covenant may now appear, any 'moral
theology' not resolutely centered in the 'time-full'
Eucharistic Event will founder -- because, as
Covenantal Theology endeavors to show beyond
refutation -- theology then invariable takes up a
project fundamentally un-Catholic. Finally, time-
less frameworks can be very handy for generating
'answers,' even if resorting to them in the long run
is un-Catholic and leads to intellectual
incoherence. Nonetheless, a steady commitment
to the Eucharistic Event as the fundamental
reality of the Good Creation, fearlessness
regarding whatever questions emerge from that
commitment, waiting in hope for better questions
to emerge in time as a result of both the
commitment and the fearlessness, and a greatly
reduced temptation to generate 'answers' via a
time-less Theory of Everything (cf. Chapters 11
and 12), would be signs of significant
improvement in Catholic moral theology.
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.