this conviction, says Fr. Keefe, we cease to do Catholic theology.
      Two points can be made. First, the 'private' social and civil order
will not cease to surprise if Matrimony is its effective sign. Its
freedom, as covenantal, while subordinate, is utter, ex nihilo. We can
not 'deduce' the social and civil order from what we know of
Matrimony, nor may we subsume it into any sacrament, including
      Second, we can, however, say with complete confidence that the
social and civil order has its meaning by its free relation to the
sacramental order, perhaps especially to the Eucharist and Matrimony,
the sacraments of covenant.
      Thus: a) the magisterium now warns that the covenantal meaning
of the 'private' work or prayer of a married couple disintegrates when
contraception is accepted, but also b) when the magisterium further
warns that there will be harmful consequences to the entire 'private'
work or prayer that is the social and civil order, if contraception is not
refused, that can not be read by Catholic theologians either as mere
rhetoric, or as a scientific prediction, either of which could be
buttressed -- or refuted -- by 'argument' and 'experiment.'
      Instead, the warning takes on literal, public, objective meaning;
which is to say, it takes on sacramental meaning, a meaning that is
meaningful ex nihilo, out of no necessity, and is conditioned,
buttressed, or refuted by no 'argument' or 'experiment.'  Rather, it is the
re-presentation of reality to Man, an articulation of the meaning of free
covenantal existence in the Eucharistic Event.
      The 'private' social and civil order has covenantal existence -- its
only existence -- in its free relation to the Eucharistic Event. The social
and civil order ceases to exist, to the extent that it lacks free (that is,
covenantal) relation to the 'public' work of the Church.
      When Man relates his body in time to other bodies in time, he may
freely choose to be unfree.  He may be freely destructive rather than
freely creative. Nonetheless, his freedom is given solely in the New
Covenant, in the Eucharistic Event, and, within the 'private' work or
prayer that is the social and civil order, his freedom is given perhaps
most especially in and through the sacrament of Matrimony.
      Man may freely choose to try to destroy the very realities that give
him free and therefore meaningful existence. However, the
magisterium has the unceasing obligation to tell Man the truth: that is
exactly what Man does, whenever he so chooses.
      Therefore, magisterial  teaching on contraception is explicitly
given as sacramental proclamation, performed not to offer advice,
comfort, science, theology, or even 'wisdom,' but explicitly to protect
the sacraments.

N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.

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