Within faithful Catholic moral systems that found themselves on philosophical principles incorporated by way of the ancient Greeks, the reason that 'natural law' is 'natural' is that Law (which is to say, the time-less and necessary order out of which everything has come to be, and is sustained in being) comes from, is caused by, and in a real sense is, God's very essence, His very being. In a real sense, God is Law.
The word for this Law in ancient Greek is kosmos. It meant, not first 'the world', but 'order' -- order itself, order on the hoof -- and only then by extension, 'the world, which is ordered'.
And it is this Law, kosmos, that Covenantal Theology calls "dehistoricized cosmology," and shows to be radically incompatible with the worship of the Catholic church.
Within 'natural law' theory as developed by scholastic moral theology, the philosophical or 'natural' analogy of being functioned to explain theologically how 'natural' men could 'naturally' know and obey God's Law. Previously we observed that this 'natural law' thus depends on a radical contradiction.
Put differently, we have shown that former moral theologies could not take the analogy of being seriously. For even by the fourteenth century, the analogy was known to be inadequate to its assigned task, and was saved only by "a school loyalty coupled to a religious obedience." [CT Vol.I, Ch. II, n. 37, p. 278]
For instance, Pars Prima, qq. 1-26 of the Summa Theologiae vigorously denies the possibility of any relation of God to what is not God. Read at the letter, this denies the analogy of being tout cout.
Since St. Thomas is a saint and not a mere philosopher, his faith did not permit him to read his own philosophical development in that way; but after him, other, perhaps not any less saintly but more strictly 'philosophical' theologians fairly quickly did read it at the letter.
The contradiction at the heart of the analogy of being means that whatever man 'naturally' does, whatever he sees, whatever he reasons to, he is unable to touch the sky, and not merely this: he is uncountably, infinitely, far from touching it. There is, there can be, no relation of what is not God, to the Deus Unus.
But the manuals cannot take this result seriously; the analogy of being has to work. For, like the Greeks, the manuals can find only one alternative to kosmos, to Law, to a time-less necessary order: its antithesis, khaos: dis-order, an empty chasm, confusion, irrationality, meaninglessness, absurdity.
Thus, within the moral theologies -- though not the faith -- of the manualists, the free and radically historical responsibility of the Lord Jesus, Who lays down His life of His own accord, [Jn 10:18] is a thought that cannot even be thought.
The view of freedom inherited from the pagan past by way of Greek metaphysics identifies historical freedom with the irrational, with that which is not subsumed to necessary reasons, and which therefore is without intrinsic intelligibility. ... From this stance, the evident formal perfection of God imports necessity in God, who is locked within essential immanence, incapable of any relation ad extra which would not diminish or fragment and thereby annul his divinity.
This view of freedom as in opposition to formal perfection is notoriously productive of the insoluble problem of the one and the many. Explored interminably and unprofitably in the dispute de auxiliis, it continues to infect the juridical and moral speculation of the Catholic theological tradition, whose treatment of moral freedom and responsibility offers an ample illustration of this dilemma. Catholic moralists still find themselves choosing between a juridicalism distrustful of free responsibility, and a relativistic denial of moral absolutes.
[ CT Vol. II, Appendix, pp. 655-6 ]
It is evident, nonetheless, that faithful contemporary Catholic moralists, like their predecessors, evince no felt need to abandon their Greek priors. Covenantal moral theologies cannot rest so easy, and not just because the philosophical or 'natural' analogy of being fails.
That Rom 2:14-15 is able to be read as a proof-text for the 'natural law' of the tracts is obvious, for that has been its interpretation by countless moralists. But is it necessary to do so?
When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness....
But why do some acts of the Gentiles show "what the law requires," and others do not? Is Romans simply cherry-picking; in effect, proof-texting itself? The answer of covenantal moral theologies is that the relationship between the acts of the pagans, the Jews, and the New Covenant is free.
Their unity, their substantial meaning, arises ex nihilo from the Eucharistic Event; that is, it arises from no prior possibility; no 'natural reason' can deduce it.
However diligently and cleverly one examines bread and wine, there is nothing in their 'essence' that creates even a hint of a possibility that they can become the body and blood of the Lord. But when particular historical bread and wine are welcomed into the history of the worship of the Church, and only then, are they transubstantiated. But the tracts do not, because they cannot, mark this at all, let alone, mark it well.
A free historical relationship is a philosophical impossibility for the manualists; for the manualists, God is Law. Everything that exists or can exist is ultimately a product of a time-less, unchangeable, necessary ordo.
Among the manualists, this is more than taken for granted, it is self-evident; and they provide many proofs that to assert the contrary is immediately to posit an absurdity -- a khaos.
And, the manualists continue, because of some reason that must remain forever obscure and therefore is ineffably evident, the 'natural' law that is available to 'natural' reason is not explicit enough; hence God found it necessary also to promulgate positive law out of an infinity of "possible objects." And so forth.
Once set up, the system seems to sail right along, with faithful moralists evincing no felt need to question it, as we have just observed. Within faithful Catholic moral systems that follow the Greeks, God is Law; there is no getting around that. And that is a road down which covenantal moral theologies cannot travel, a bridge covenantal moral theologies just cannot cross.
The Prime Analogate of covenantal moral theologies is the radically historical Eucharistic Event. No other font or foundation for moral acts will do: "Lord, to whom shall we go?" One of the premiere virtues of the radical critique of theology that is Covenantal Theology is that covenantal moral theologies are able to take Saint Peter's rhetorical question with greater seriousness. For the telos of fallen 'human nature' is death.
Previous moralists are right, in the sense that if there exists no salvific ordo, then there exists no basis by which some acts can be judged to be intrinsically dis-ordered. Their error was mistaking the choice to be between kosmos and khaos.
More deeply, their error was their inability to see, as the epistle to the Romans does see, that Christ Jesus is the Lord of history: the morality of human acts can only be meaningfully interpreted, not by any prior time-less, necessary, and detached kosmos, but finally only in the light of the sheer Gift of the excruciatingly historical and particular death of the Lord.
It is of course the Cross of the Christ that most divides covenantal moral theologies from the contemporary unfaithful moralists. These remain trapped in the Greek priors, and merely choose the opposite horn of the Greek dilemma. For them, God is not-Law; thus they make "a relativistic denial of moral absolutes." [ CT Vol. II, Appendix, p. 656 ]
Unfaithful moralists abandon history, abandon particularity itself, whether for the time-less, nonhistorical, thus ineffable Ideal, or for an equally ineffable Now, generating in themselves an unhealable wound, whose only salves are Power and extinction into nothingness.
The death of the Lord is an especial scandal to unfaithful moralists, because of its radical historical specificity: Our Lord died not in the abstract but on the Cross, revealing not only His own free covenantal responsibility but also the existence of a moral ordo that is both entirely free, and quite particular about 'this' and not 'that' in history.
In a word, covenantal moral theologies have no systematic need of Greek wisdom. To the contrary, covenantal moral theologies must make systematic efforts to turn away from the Greeks, and to turn towards the liturgical worship of the Catholic Church.
For the true wisdom of the Church is her worship, and she worships, not truth, but Truth Himself, Who in the One Sacrifice is One Flesh with her.
Certainly there have been times in the Church's history in which it would have been difficult to read magisterial profession as including this possibility. On the other hand, prior to the scholastic era of theology, something like its truth was readily understood and preached.
In those days, it was taken for granted that faith is "the condition of possibility of the constructive work of reason;" Augustine's crede ut intellegas (believe, in order to understand) once was, and still can be, taken at the letter:
For the Augustinian pre-scholastic tradition, faith was the prius of understanding: Anselm of Bec, later Archbishop of Canterbury, the first of the great Scholastics, spoke for all the Augustinian past when he described theology as fides quaerens intellectum. For that tradition, faith is the condition of possibility of the constructive work of reason: Augustine's crede ut intellegas had been axiomatic for the pre-Carolingian theology, and it would not have occurred to a pre-scholastic theologian to rationalize a conciliar teaching in the sense of submitting its truth to the test of an autonomous logic of sic et non as later did Abelard. The illusory identification of intellectum with an account in terms of "necessary reasons" begins with Anselm, and is still with us.
[ CT II Ch. VI, p. 503 ]
Moreover, neither the Magisterium of the Church, nor even Catholic theologians, have always and everywhere professed that the commandments are self-proving; viz., that the impetus to keep them is universally available to 'natural reason'. In the following passage, first we cited Veritatis Splendor quoting Augustine, then added our own remarks:
Saint Augustine asks: "Does love bring about the keeping of the commandments, or does the keeping of the commandments bring about love?" And he answers: "But who can doubt that love comes first? For the one who does not love has no reason for keeping the commandments." [Veritatis Splendor , quoting In Iohannis Evangelium Tractatus, 82, 3: CCL 36, 533]
It is difficult to read Augustine here as professing that the impetus to keep the commandments is 'naturally' available to 'natural reason' independent of love; in fact, Saint Augustine says the opposite: it's obvious ("But who can doubt?") that the commandments are not self-proving; absent the prior impetus and direction provided by love, of course (we might even pun and say, "naturally") we are unable to find a reason to keep them.
Thus the approach of the manuals to the moral ordo is radically distinct from that of covenantal moral theologies. Covenantal moral theologies take as their prior, and endeavor to make systematically intelligible, Augustine's remark quoted above: love comes first. Time-less Necessity is not prior to the nuptial relation of the Lord of history with His bride, One Flesh in the One Sacrifice: for God is love.
Starting points are important. The distinction between the fundamental approach of the manuals and that of covenantal moral theologies does create real differences between them.
In sum, the happy conceit that there is an underlying 'natural' moral unity to men, 'naturally' available to 'natural' Reason, which can thus underpin a universal 'natural' moral law, is a delusion. The world needs Christ, not as the frosting on the cake, but in its bones. There is no 'underlying' 'natural' unity of fallen men -- moral, intellectual, or otherwise. A 'natural law' apart from the sacraments is not discoverable by 'natural' Reason, or in any other way, because it does not exist; to pursue the lineaments of this 'natural' law is to chase a chimera; as Augustine knew, even the commandments are not self-proving: love comes first.
Of course this means that a Catholic appeal to the Children of This World is ineradicably confessional, not 'natural' (meaning, grounded in something apart from the sacraments). Our solidarity with those not enfolded within the sacraments of the Catholic Church (and concomitantly, the solidarity of the Children of This World with each other) is slim indeed; this is both utterly sad, and utterly true: the Fall guarantees it.
We can offer to the whole world the true universal Natural Law, which in its very being is the substantial human nature by which alone we are unified and free. But substantial human being is not imposed on any man; we can only offer it, even as God Himself can only offer it, for it is a share in His own trinitarian life, which is therefore covenantal, which is therefore sheer Gift.
There is one true Natural Law to which we can make appeal, and neither the Children of This World nor we ourselves are bound whether we like it or not to that true Natural Law, the New Covenant, the Eucharistic Event.
This does create a difficulty for covenantal moral theologies, a difficulty that cannot arise in many former moral theologies, because these posit that the foundation for moral theologizing does not need to be confessional and radically historical, but rather is time-lessly and 'naturally' available.
Covenantal moral theologies, as a matter of method, must honor the nearly total insufficiency of fallen human solidarity; for fallen men are united solely by an inchoate longing, the trahi a Deo.
The Fall caused a degradation in the substance of the Good Creation; this degradation
... was also a dynamism, of a negative kind: an aversio a Deo, by which the Prince of Darkness and the Father of Lies rules in the fallen world.
Immersion in the death of the Lord is absolutely essential to substantial human nature, thus to human solidarity, to human dignity, to human flourishing, to free responsibility.
Covenantal moral theologies thus have no need to soften the meaning of extra ecclesiam, nulla salus, but rather wholeheartedly affirm it, to the letter.
Our salvation exists solely mediatively, in ecclesia; we do not go to heaven to be 'joined' to God as a 'lonely soul', but rather, our history is welcomed into the history of the Bridegroom with His bride, One Flesh in the One Sacrifice, for salvation is covenantal, nuptial, and we are not His bride.
As we have shown, however, sacramental baptism is not a necessary implication of extra ecclesiam, nulla salus, for the death of the Lord is metaphysically prior to sacramental baptism.
Our Lord's harrowing of Hell, by which the saints prior to the New Covenant were raised in the death of the Lord to the Church's altars, is more than sufficient for their salvation; no theological contraption, such as a 'baptism' of "desire," is needed.
Strictly speaking, if a man has not yet become welcomed into the death of the Lord, the objective morality of his acts is radically incomplete. The Church can sacramentally neither bind nor loose the meaning of his acts; for in the sacraments -- there, and only there -- does the Church's Authority begin and end.
In this life, only the sacraments re-enable, and more than re-enable, the freely responsible worship that God once offered to Adam and Eve. Man's munus finally becomes substantial, true, real in history, because finally it is Eucharistically, sacramentally ordered.
Only by immersion in the death of the Lord can the acts of fallen, sinful human beings become free, can become a worship in spirit and truth. Only in the Eucharist do man's deeds become consequential, personal, and singular, not mere repetitions or 'examples': creative gifts freely given into time, and in the extremity, gifts freely crucified into time, yet gifts into time that are not -- not ever -- devoured by time:
The pagans mourned that time devours its children; we rejoice that the Lord of history redeems them.
[Keefe, "Faith, Science, and Sacramental Realism," ITEST: A Seminar With Fr. Stanley Jaki (St. Louis: ITEST Faith/Science Press, 1991) 1-17; p. 10.]
This free, sacramental participation in the One Flesh in the One Sacrifice just is a man's personal, baptismal name, his substantial human nature: his free particular history of free gifts, works, and obligations within the free particular history of free gifts, works, and obligations in history that is the nuptial Gift, the life of the Bridegroom and His bride, possessed in ecclesia: the Eucharistic Event, the New Covenant.
At the 'moment' of each unbaptized man's death, he is now enfolded, not in the time-less, but in the excruciatingly particular and historical death of the Lord, the only death that remains, just as were all who fell asleep prior to the Lord's Cross.
And at that 'moment', he becomes as free as Adam and Eve, free either to freely join the history and work and gifts of the Bridegroom and His bride, and all whose histories and works and gifts are now part of theirs, or to freely refuse it and go... some place else.
But in this life, only the sacraments make a man's acts freely responsible, fully historical, thus fully moral. For out of the Fall can come only fallenness; out of slavery, can come only slavery; out of inconsequence, can come only inconsequence; out of irresponsibility, can come only irresponsibility.
The Church offers -- can offer -- the Eucharist, confession, and a Christian burial, to no one whom she does not yet know as her son, to no one whose acts, whose every breath past and present, has not yet been clarified in the blood of the Lamb, to no one with whom she has no substantial history.
Yet the Church also knows that the Father still peers far down the road, to greet any, even at their last hour, who were lost but are found; and we have argued that the death of the Lord who has defeated death will still enfold every man at the 'moment' of his personal judgment, clarifying his every breath, his every act, and enabling the choice for which his whole life has prepared him, the finally free, consequential, and irrevocable choice between life and death.
But in this life, strictly speaking, an unbaptized man's acts are radically unformed -- the Church cannot either bind or loose them, for her Authority is solely sacramental.
Not a single one of an unbaptized man's breaths, nor any of his prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of each day, can fully give glory to God, because they are not yet sacramentally ordered.
Similarly, neither have the wrongs he has done yet been clarified in the blood of the Lamb, thus be given their true name as sin, as destructive of his covenantal history with the Bridegroom and His bride, as objectively wrong because sacramentally dis-ordered.
Our Lord's bride cannot firmly and fully know that man as her son, for he has yet no substantial history, no real, personal name -- for he has no baptismal name, he has no history with the works and gifts of Our Lord with His one-and-only bride.
The Church's sole Authority being sacramental, thus she can neither bind nor loose his acts; she can offer him no forgiveness, no possibility for recompense for his sins, let alone redemption.
But even as immersion in Our Lord's death at the 'moment' of an unbaptized man's death frees him to confront the Bridegroom and His bride, and in their nuptial presence make his first fully substantial, fully moral choice, he is no more fortunate than Eve and Adam.
For in the Lord's death he has been redeemed and is thus free, but he is not yet saved. In the death of the Lord, his free history in ecclesia, his history with her and her Bridegroom and with all whose history unites with theirs, has just begun.
But his substantial human nature is not imposed on him. He can at that 'moment' of his death freely abandon his now-free name. He can hate his finally substantial reality, his new history with the Bridegroom and His bride and with all whose own ultra-personal histories join theirs.
In the freedom of the gift of his now-free name, he can scorn that name, walk away from it, want nothing more to do with it. At that 'moment' he can freely make an irrevocable choice. He can freely grab what he can, make the Father dead to him, and walk away. He can freely utter a word into his new history and revoke that history then and there, forever. And the Lord will gift him with that one last gift: exactly what he wants.
For the same reason, neither does Our Lord impose substantial human nature on any man during the man's life.
Fallen 'human nature' certainly is imposed. The Fall collapsed not only the freedom but also the entire solidarity of men and their acts, their choices, their very breaths, into the 'unity' of the black hole that is inconsequence, that is irresponsibility, that is fallen death, from which nothing escapes.
Apart from the One Flesh in the One Sacrifice, one moral fate comes to all. The supposed immortality of the pagan devising is unavailing in this regard, since in the same pagan devising, time is the friend of khaos; in time, what comes to be, comes not to be: all of a man's acts in this life are thus inevitably devoured by time.
Time guarantees that regarding the acts of each man, a distinction between kosmos and khaos is finally illusory. As time gradually makes even a man's greatest acts inconsequential, responsibility erodes and finally dissolves into irresponsibility. In the afterlife, a man literally becomes a shadow of his former self, and it is impossible to distinguish punishment and reward. As the shade of Achilles told Odysseus:
Nay, seek not to speak soothingly to me of death, glorious Odysseus. I should choose, so I might live on earth, to serve as the hireling of another, of some portionless man whose livelihood was but small, rather than to be lord over all the dead that have perished.
[ Odyssey 11: 489-91 Translated by A. T. Murray (1919 Loeb) ]
From this fate, only the free responsibility of the New Covenant can liberate us; and as free, it is freely chosen, not imposed on any man.
Thus covenantal moral theologies must make a firm distinction between how one may or even can approach and deal with the Children of This World and all their acts, and the covenantal, thus free, responsibilities that, strictly speaking, can only apply to the Children of Light.
The Fall ripped the world apart; the account by which the Fall left kosmos intact and merely 'weakened' man's 'reason' and 'will' becomes essential if the only alternative to the time-less, necessary order that is kosmos is khaos.
But must we dis-remember how shameful, and how absurd, is the death of the Son of God, and how impossible His resurrection, merely to enforce our conviction -- allay our fear -- that kosmos must not, cannot, be torn, though He had to endure its rending in full?
Crucified is the Son of God; not shameful, because it is shameful. And dead is the Son of God; it is trustworthy because it is absurd. And He is raised from the tomb; it is certain, because it is impossible.
[Tertullian, de carne Christi 5, 25-29.]
There is no underlying 'natural' fallen moral unity to men, 'naturally' available to 'natural' Reason, which can thus underpin a universal 'natural' moral law. However hard a saying this is, covenantal moral theologies can do no other than honor it.
The Fall was that devastating; the freely responsible death of the Lord, by which the Bridegroom is freely One Flesh with His freely responsible bride, radically in history, really is that important.
Covenantal moral theologies do not find it necessary to trivialize the death of the Lord, in order to save the assumption that the Fall only 'weakened' Man and Creation.
For only under that assumption is it possible to think that fallen man can find in fallen 'nature' a fallen ordo substantially sufficient to moral life, a fallen ordo whose apperception may be assisted by the sacramental life, but knowledge of which is readily attainable by fallen men substantially apart from His death, without any essential reference to it or dependence upon it.
Moreover -- contradiction piled on contradiction -- this 'natural' moral ordo of the pagans (CCC 1956 even cites Cicero) and of the theologians, is known by Mother Church also to be radically insufficient to a substantial moral life, wholly unavailing for salvation, since only a man's immersion in the death of the Lord can save him.
What could possibly be the point of a 'natural law', a 'natural' moral ordo which, no matter how faithfully it is found and followed, can result only in death?
The New Covenant is substantial human nature :
... the created human substance is an Event, caused by, but also a constitutional aspect of, the New Covenant. She is truly His Mother, even as she proceeds from Him as His glory, even as she is His Bride and He the Bridegroom: all must be professed simultaneously.
Covenantal existence just is our baptismal name, our free personal history of free gifts, works, and obligations by which we freely belong to, and are thus freely brothers in, the free and radically historical nuptial union of Christ with His one-and-only bride.
Which is to say, covenantal existence is freely sharing, not in a time-less 'essence' or 'vision', but in the radically historical New Covenant, the Eucharistic Event, the One Flesh in the One Sacrifice.
There are no 'lonely souls' in heaven. In both this life and the next, covenantal existence is mediated in ecclesia. In this fallen world, covenantal existence is also mediated entirely sacramentally, by signs that cause what they signify; it is objectively real, but not empirical.
Covenantal existence is thus our free telos, our free end, our free 'essence', our free munus. There is in fallen 'nature' no prior possibility for this at all. Our fallen 'nature' -- fallenness as normative, fallenness somehow apart from the sacraments -- has exactly the same potential for covenantal existence as bread and wine has for becoming the body and blood of Our Lord; that is, none at all.
Thus, when covenantal moral theologies ask, What is human nature? their answer is and can only be: the New Covenant, the radically historical One Flesh in the One Sacrifice.
In the same way, when covenantal moral theologies ask, What is natural law? What is the a priori of reason? the answer is identically: the Eucharistic Event, the nuptial and radically historical union of the Bridegroom and His bride in the One Sacrifice.
And when covenantal moral theologies ask, What is human flourishing? What is human dignity? the answer is covenantal existence: a free, substantial history with the history of the Bridegroom and His bride, a personal, a baptismal name in ecclesia.
To say it another way: available to men is, not merely an ordo, but a redemptive ordo; however, that real and substantial ordo is not imposed on man in any way, nor is it available in any flight or appeal to a time-less Necessity.
It is only available freely, and radically in history, in and through the continuing sacramental work of the Lord of history with His one-and-only bride, who with each other but not as each other continually 'breathe' the Holy Spirit into men, giving them much more than a succession of events but a true history capable of freely responsible acts, giving them their personal, their baptismal, names.
To say it a third way: the Church is empowered and commanded to ceaselessly offer to all men the New Covenant -- which also means, to each man the Church offers a fully personal name, which is his substantial and consequential history within the history of "the holy society by which we belong to God," a history and a name that is his specifically Christian and sacramental way of life, by which he puts on the New Man.
However, only after a man freely accepts the sacraments and the sacramental way of life so offered, do all his acts, past and present, pass over, in the Lord's death, in the blood of the Paschal Lamb, from death to life, from inconsequence to consequence, from irresponsibility to free responsibility.
And the same for all of his future acts, because his baptismal name, his now free and substantial history with Him and her and with all who are now his brothers, is irrevocable -- until the 'moment' of his personal judgment, when each man is free to deny even his own name.
By our free immersion in the death of the Lord, Who has defeated death, our stony hearts are removed and replaced, and our history, our names, become personal and substantial, "covenant-capable." We begin to freely share in the substantial human nature of the Risen Lord of history nuptially united with His bride. We become her adopted sons, and His adopted brothers.
Covenantal moral theologies can found themselves upon no other substantial human nature, no other Natural Law, except the radically historical Eucharistic Event, the One Flesh in the One Sacrifice, continually made re-present radically in history by the seven sacraments of the Catholic church, beginning with the Eucharist.
God in no way imposes the true substantial Natural Law on men -- even intellectually. For He makes His Trinitarian life available freely, mediatively, radically in history, in and through the continuing work in history of the Bridegroom with His Bride, the One Flesh in the One Sacrifice, and He does so ex nihilo, out of no prior possibility.
The "identification of intellectum with an account in terms of 'necessary reasons'" [ CT II Ch. VI, p. 503 ] was a theological mistake, one that the pre-scholastics did not make.
The true Natural Law is a Good Surprise. It can be said to be imposed on the 'intellect' only by pre-defining intellectum as 'that which perceives what is imposed.'
In such an account, a free responsibility is inconceivable. Since in such an account the sole alternative to kosmos is khaos, the Lord is of necessity subject to -- if you prefer, He 'necessarily makes Himself subject to' -- what is more lordly than He. Everything, even Truth Himself, is subject to the Necessary Law, for otherwise, khaos would reign, which is impossible, a contradiction in terms.
Of course, however, the terms are the problem. An account within 'necessary reasons' can only generate Necessary Law; it makes free responsibility a thought that cannot even be thought.
But the true Natural Law is not ever a deduction from prior principles by anyone's 'reason', fallen or unfallen; the God of the Christians is simply not that small.
Thus for covenantal moral theologies, substantial human being, the moral solidarity of men, the Natural Law, the free historical moral ordo that alone is the basis for substantial human moral life, is no time-less Thing, but is the nuptial union of the Lord Himself with His bride in the One Sacrifice.
The freedom of the crucified and risen Bridegroom with His bride can no more be uttered within the Greek wisdom than their responsibility. Their joint responsibility is definite, specific, particular, a responsibility of 'this' and not 'that', a responsibility never thwarted nor even diluted by time but rather expressed by means of it; yet there is no Rule whatever by which we can demand either that they love us, or that they continue to love us.
The Son is the Son of the Father Who is the arche, and the Son is the Son of Mary, and in the One Sacrifice the Son is the Bridegroom of His bride, who together 'breathe' out the Spiritus Creator, causing salvation history.
This New Covenant in history, nuptial to its core, thus simultaneously free and responsible, reveals and Images, not the Greek kosmos nor the scholastic Deus Unus, but the Most Holy Trinity.
The Eucharist, and the covenantal responsibilities that express its freedom in history, can and must be perennially offered to Man in and out of season, but the Church can do no more than the Lord Himself, Who imposes nothing, but instead, ever with His bride ever offers Himself as sheer free Gift ever in history.
In professing the free responsibility of the New Covenant, covenantal moral theologies are able to refuse the pagan dichotomy, and to say -- systematically, methodologically -- that God is Love, Whose freedom and responsibility does not wait upon time-less necessity, nor is it limited by time, but rather is expressed by means of it.
The Eucharist, the historical New Covenant in the historical One Sacrifice, the primordial, historical, and eschatological union of the Bridegroom and His bride, One Flesh in His blood, creates, and is, the only radically historical kinship group that unites heaven, purgatory, and earth, not time-lessly, not Ideally, but continually and radically within history.
There is, there can be, only one free and responsible kinship history of free gifts, works, and obligations in all the world that is, or will ever be, true and substantial reality: the free and responsible ordo of "the holy society by which we belong to God." [ Augustine, De civ. Dei, 10, 6 ]
There is, there can be, only one substantial, covenantal, eucharistic, ecclesial, sacramental, multi-personal free kinship history of free gifts, works, and obligations that can ground a morality that does not fade into the past, dis-integrate within history, and thus within which our personal history of free gifts, works, and obligations are fully and truly responsible.
There is, there can be, only one New Covenant in the One Sacrifice, ever within history and transcending it -- though in sacramento; that is, substantially, yet mediated, yet "veiled" -- within which our personal history of free gifts, works, and obligations can be, and is, our free true personal name, our true meaning, our good and enduring and responsible existence.
For He with His bride, One Flesh in the One Sacrifice, freely is the Lord of a free and responsible history: there is no other.
Return to The Old Testament in the Heart
of the Catholic Church main page
Return to "Essays Towards a Covenantal Moral Theology"