126 Chapter 9
NATURE IS GRACE
There is a sacramental link between any 'private' work or prayer of
Man and the New Covenant -- for this is the only way such 'private'
work or prayer can be, and is, a worship of God in Christ through the
Holy Spirit. The proximate sacramental link between the particular
'private' work or prayer of Man called the social and civil order seems
to be the sacrament of Matrimony.
Thus the family is the "first cell of society" not by sociological
theory or pious blather but as sacramental reality. The entire social
order is given as fundamentally marital, not because of some theory,
but because Matrimony is a sacrament.
It is not only the modern acceptance of contraception that is
afflicted with the idea that Man can make reality intelligible from some
time-less and therefore non-sacramental place. Despite the Holy
Father's assistance, too much of the contemporary theological defense
of Humanae Vitae accepts the New Class contention that there is a
time-less and by that time-lessness 'objective' place wherein Man may
stand to understand Humanae Vitae's teaching. Whether that time-less
place is called 'phenomenology' or 'natural law' is of little moment.
Catholic theology can not become covenantal merely by
disagreeing with New Class Catholics on the manner by which and the
place from which one 'properly' flees from 'flesh' to the time-less.
Reality exists because of the Eucharistic Event, and the
proper order of precedence must always be honored
within Catholic theology.
This is a major part of what Fr. Keefe means when he says that
Catholic theology requires a methodological reconversion: Catholic
theologians must always stand within the sacraments to understand, or
'Catholic theology' immediately disintegrates into 'flesh' merely, and
thereupon flees to the time-less.
So, the meaning of the entire
'private' social and civic order is
given in the Eucharistic Event, and
(it may be) proximately, within the
sacrament of Matrimony.
Of course, the Event of the New Covenant, and the response to it,
are both free, in the ridiculous generosity of freedom that is genuinely
creative out of no necessity. There is no time-less Grand Design that
Man must fulfill, no list that the Almighty checks twice, to see if Man
has been naughty or nice. The 'private' work or prayer is still a
To fail to see this is once again to sneak in our well-nigh
unshakable conviction that whatever is meaningful just has to be
somehow necessary: the entire social and civil order already exists on
some god's time-less 'list,' which Man is, if slowly and haltingly,
'freely' working through. Nonetheless, at the very moment we sneak in
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.