S GUIDE TO COVENANTAL THEOLOGY
was shown in the previous chapter.
To understand that aspect of the 'private' work or prayer called the
social and civil order, then, we have to stand within the sacraments --
but can we get more specific? Can we find a specific sacrament that
plainly links 'private' work or prayer, particularly within the social and
civil order, with the public work re-presented in and through every
sacrament, but particularly the Eucharist?
Yes we can. By its very nature the sacrament of Matrimony
directly links the free social and civil 'private' work or prayer that is the
irrevocable act in time of husband and wife, with the free public work
or prayer of the New Covenant. Indeed, following St. Paul,
Church sees the sacramental covenant made between husband and wife
as a sign of the New Covenant between Christ and his Bride, the
1. "'For this reason a man shall leave his
father and mother and be joined to his
wife, and the two shall become one
flesh.' This mystery is a profound one,
and I am saying that it refers to Christ
and the church...." [Ephesians 5:31-32
Here Catholic theologians reconverted to the New Covenant as
their "prime analogate" need to be careful not to insert a time-less
theory -- of the social order, of marriage, etc. All 'flesh' outside of the
Eucharistic 'order' of history is fundamentally insane, a no-thing,
without remainder. Catholic theology may not imagine a 'natural'
social and civil order apart from the New Covenant, in which there
supposedly exists all sorts of 'natural' human relations, including
'natural' unions of man and woman, some of which became
sacramental -- covenantal -- as a 'special case.' For Catholic theology,
there can be no 'ungraced' social order in which to stand, from which
'Matrimony' becomes understandable. Just the reverse:
Matrimony is a sacrament of the New Covenant within
a 'Nature' that is only real as Graced.
The obvious is only belabored if the obvious is -- at last -- obvious:
apart from the New Covenant, all human relations are simply 'flesh.'
Within `flesh' apart from the Eucharistic `order' of history, our
attempts to rank-order the differing possible relations of human bodies
in time, to distinguish them, to give them dignity, or to call them
unworthy, are -- all of them -- "vanity," and nothing more can be said.
Apart from the New Covenant, all human activities are simply the
working-out of Cause and Chance, without remainder. Then all human
acts -- ever -- are fundamentally irresponsible, including any union --
ever -- between a man and a woman. Catholic theology regarding
either Matrimony or the social order as a whole simply can not even
begin until it acknowledges this, and is re-converted to the vast
surprise and inexhaustible intelligibility given solely in and through the
2. Need it be said that 'surprise' is not stupidity or
irrationality (e.g., psychic crystal pyramids), but
is intelligible. Further, the inexhaustible
intelligibility of matrimony and of human
relations in general is given sacramentally, but
this intelligibility is given as covenantal, and is
thus free. We must stand within the sacramental
'order' to understand. Nonetheless, the utterly free
creativity of the 'private' work or prayer remains
inviolate. No human relation is subsumable into
or deducible from the free and irrevocable
Covenant between Christ and his Bride. The
social and civil order remains completely free,
creative ex nihilo. On the other hand, no human
relation whatever has intelligible existence apart
from its creation in that Covenantal Event.
Covenantal existence is free and intelligible
relation. All this is further elaborated in this
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.