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Covenantal Knowing

John Kelleher

Covenantal moral theologies rely on, and must rely on, a radically different conception of how the Catholic Church knows what she knows (a radically different epistemology), than the epistemology heretofore commonly used in moral theology.

For instance, covenantal moral theologies are clear that the Catholic Church knows of no 'God' who is 'before', 'beyond', 'behind' the God revealed by her Lord.

Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever, is the full revelation of the Father, the full gift of the Spirit: to seek beyond Christ's revelation of the Father is to deny him.

[ CT Vol. II, Appendix, p. 657 ]

And only in the One Sacrifice is the Church One Flesh with her Lord; thus only does she know Him. According to covenantal moral theologies, then, the Church's knowledge of her Lord -- hence perforce her knowledge of both the Father and the Holy Spirit as well -- does not -- cannot -- extend 'before', 'beyond', 'behind' her radically historical (i.e., historical "from the root") Eucharistic, sacramental, covenantal, liturgical union with Him.

Hence covenantal moral theologies must take seriously, systematically, as a matter of method, that the Catholic Church, as Church, as the bride of her Bridegroom, thus has no knowledge of any 'Lord' or any 'God' posited to exist in some nonhistorical, non-sacramental, non-liturgical, non-Eucharistic 'realm'.

As Covenantal Theology shows, substantial reality is radically Eucharistic, liturgical, covenantal, free, multi-personal, historical; thus Greek notions of a time-less, dehistoricized, necessitated substantial reality, one 'naturally' apart from, independent of, the historical, free responsibility of the sacraments, cannot be ameliorated, but must simply be refused -- abandoned root and branch.

So, even though it might have been obvious from the previous paragraphs, we say out loud here that the Church's knowledge of anything at all regarding substantial reality occurs entirely in and through her One Flesh union with her Lord and Bridegroom in the One Sacrifice. She has no access to substantial reality 'before', 'beyond', 'behind' her radically historical Eucharistic, sacramental, covenantal, liturgical union with Him.

We have shown that the "analogy of being" of traditional theology fails as a mechanism to enable fallen Man to touch the sky -- to provide a link between the ineffable Deus Unus of the Thomist tradition, and the historical world of fallen men:

... for it is immediately evident that of the transcendent absolute precisely nothing is or can be known, as a matter of definition: of the ineffable, nothing is said.

[CT Vol.I, Ch. II, n. 37, p. 278]

On the other hand, the Church's continuous Eucharistic worship, both of, and with, her Lord, radically in history -- not the unconverted, contradictory, and unsustainable "analogy" of theological tradition -- can serve, and is, the ex opere operato cause of a radically historical, covenantal, analogy of being.

The continuing work of the Lord of History with His bride, One Flesh in the One Sacrifice, continuously causes the unity of the primordial, the historical, and the eschatological, the unity of the literal, the allegorical, the moral, and the anagogic. The New Covenant itself, the Eucharistic Event itself, is the Prime Analogate; there is no other.

One implication of all this is of course the Church's daily sacramental refutation of the Reform. For the Reform denies the ex opere operato character of the Catholic Eucharistic signing; and whether in its Lutheran or Calvinist guise, the Reform denies that to its core, or it would cease to be Protestant.

Thus refusing the full and complete and continuing immanence of the Lord with His bride in fallen history in and through the Catholic sacramental signs, the Reform must conclude that the 'meaning' of fallen history is either a contradiction in terms (all of fallen sinful history is unavailing "works," the 'meaning' of the fallen world is total corruption), or, in more 'modern' Protestant guises, that various schemes can back-reference a meaning from the (nonhistorical) eschaton into "works," the actual historical deeds, of fallen sinful men.

By contrast, every day in her actual historical worship, the Catholic Church simply refuses the conundrums self-generated by the Reform and puts the question to the whole world:

... either historical events, in the sense of particular concrete free and morally responsible actions by sinful human beings, are capable of mediating the risen Christ, or they are not.

[ Keefe, Donald J, SJ. "Gender, History and Liturgy in the Church," Review for Religious 46/6 (Nov./Dec. 1987) 866-881, n. 15; (from a paper read at the Thirty-second Meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States (ARC-US), Jamaica, N.Y., 7-10 December, 1986.) ]

Obviously, all Catholic moral theologies, covenantal moral theologies included, agree that the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church are preeminently "historical events, in the sense of particular concrete free and morally responsible actions by sinful human beings" that infallibly and ex opere operato "mediate the risen Christ."

However, since covenantal moral theologies identify the Eucharistic Event itself, the New Covenant, the union of the Bridegroom with His bride, One Flesh in the One Sacrifice, as the Prime Analogate; and since covenantal moral theologies further attest that, apart from her One Flesh union with her Lord and Bridegroom in the One Sacrifice, the bridal Church knows, and can know, nothing at all of substantial reality; then we arrive at a radical division -- an unbridgeable gap -- between covenantal moral theologies and those moral theologies "heretofore in common use."

For Fr. Keefe is clear that the Church's knowledge of what is good and what is bad is grounded in her worship, and not in some nonhistorical, non-sacramental apperception of a rationalized 'nature':

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. Pope John Paul II has refused this dilemma in his recent encyclical, VERITATIS SPLENDOR; there moral freedom and responsibility are shown to be grounded in the sacramental worship of the Church, rather than in the rationalized notion of "nature" heretofore in common use. This repristination of the moral tradition of the Church has freed moral theology from the cosmological fatalism to which it for far too long paid tribute.

[ CT Vol. II, Appendix, pp. 655-6 ]

As we have discussed, regarding the foundations of her moral theologizing, the Church does know of, has always kept in her heart, an alternative to "the rationalized notion of 'nature' heretofore in common use."

For the Church's own moral relation to her Lord, and His moral relation to her, is as far away from either "juridical" or "relativistic" as it is possible to be: it is covenantal, nuptial, the relation of Bridegroom and bride.

And in the One Sacrifice and as we eat the One Bread, we are the Lord's brothers, as well as brothers together, brothers in the Lord; in this way the Church, knowing her Lord and Bridegroom, knows us as her children.

Which is to say, the Church has always kept in her heart a fully historical relation between us, her, and her Lord: that of kinship, a relation that is neither juridical, nor relativistic, nor rationalized, nor dehistoricized.

Within a "kinship" moral context, you yourself are completely historical and relational:

For there is no dehistoricized "meaning" to you: you are the person with these particular obligations, who does this particular work, who gives these particular gifts to these particular others; you are the person who is owed these particular things from these particular others; you are the person who has received these particular gifts from these particular persons. That is you.

The bonds of gift, work, and obligation that both cause and sustain the kinship group, and your place within them, just are your meaning....

The idea that "kinship" morality is entirely incapable of translation into a rationality is hardly a conceptual novelty, though it might be misperceived as such within contexts that have, for example, no knowledge of modern scholarship regarding the moral world of the Iliad and the Odyssey.

For modern scholarship began to take seriously that the worldview Homer has his heroes utter was far more ancient than Homer himself; then it began to understand that their moral world was consistent and responsible on its own terms, but was not translatable into a rationality.

Put differently, it is not merely that Achilles did not think of himself as an 'accident' of a 'substance', a 'rational being', a 'member' of a 'species' finally and necessarily caused by the time-less Unmoved Mover -- as Aristotle might have taught him.

Far rather, Achilles might have regarded Aristotle not only as a raving but also a dangerous lunatic, and would -- at best -- have laughed in Aristotle's face (we spare the reader any thought of what Achilles would actually have done to Aristotle; the fate of Socrates being the most gentle scenario), for saying things so literally barbaric, so utterly unholy, so unspeakably blasphemous, so entirely ridiculous.

Which is to say (and as we have pointed out previously regarding the insupportability of the Thomist act-potency account of the 'material individual'), Aristotle's account "by nature," as it were, would seek to dis-integrate the relations of Achilles's world into rationalized substances and accidents.

In Achilles's world, there was one fate reserved for those who not only would fain to dis-integrate his whole world, but even more hubristically, in their very approach would assume that this dis-integration of his entire world -- of the gods themselves -- into a rationality, was a good thing; and that fate was not further and more acute rationalizations.

(Of course, 'by nature', as it were, it is impossible for "rational" moral theologies to think other than that Achilles, e.g., really was a 'rational animal', etc. despite what Achilles himself may have thought and attested about himself).

From the standpoint of "rational" moralities, the translatability of all other moral orders into a rationality is a given. Be that as it may, and putting also to one side the truth of the contention, we can at least prove that it is not a conceptual novelty to advance the idea that a culture, a worldview, a moral ordo can be entirely incapable of translation into a rationality.

And of course the modern 'discovery of relativism' is not actually a conceptual novelty to "rational" moral theologies, either, as the idea is everywhere. The problem is, how to adjudicate disputes between rival historical and/or relational moral worldviews, in the (purported) absence of a dehistoricized, rationalized, 'universal' moral ordo?

We have treated the question in a previous essay. The Lord of history alone, in and with His nuptial union with His bride in the One Sacrifice, creates and continues the sole substantial human nature, the sole substantial kinship, by which Mother Church knows as her sons all who are His brothers in His death.

This is the only house not founded on sand but on solid ground, the only kinship not enslaved in Original Sin, the sole kinship that can be relied upon.

And here we say it out loud: apart from the Lord of history, all "kinship" moralities also break themselves on the radical contradiction at the heart of any 'natural' analogy of being.

The advantage of "kinship" moralities is that they are historical; the trouble is, absent the New Covenant, flowing as blood and water from the Cross and side of the Lord, the ground of "kinship" moralities is fallen history, history dis-integrated into 'flesh', sarx, thus trapped, utterly, entirely, irrevocably, between the jungle and the cage.

And we note again for emphasis that, while covenantal moral theologies are bound as a matter of system, of method, to seek an historically-based morality to replace "the rationalized notion of 'nature' heretofore in common use," and we developed the notion of a "kinship"-based morality over against a "rational" morality, we were not inventing a category unknown to the Church in her very heart.

And we pointed out that a "kinship"-based morality was certainly as definite and non-relativistic as any "rational" morality. But we also noted that not only does there exist an unbridgeable gap between covenantal moral theologies and those moral theologies "heretofore in common use," we observed that from the viewpoint of "rational" moral theologies, a "kinship" moral theology is inconceivable, a thought that cannot even be thought.

Philosophers sometimes call this the problem of translatability. But for "rational" moral theologies, there is no 'problem' of translatability, since the only conceivable moral theology is the "rational" moral theology "heretofore in common use," or one very much like it.

From the standpoint of "rational" moral theologies, any "kinship" moral theology must 'really' be -- must be translatable into -- a "rational" moral theology, or it is nothing at all, an absurdity, literally incomprehensible.

By contrast, for covenantal, "kinship" moral contexts, nothing is really "translatable" -- able to be replaced by some other thing -- beginning of course with the nuptial, covenantal One Flesh union of the Bridegroom and His bride in the One Sacrifice.

Again we appeal to the New Covenant itself to prove this. There is no such thing as a dehistoricized 'essence' that is 'before', 'beyond', 'behind' the specific and particular freely responsible ongoing history of gifts, works, and obligations that just is the One Flesh union of the Bridegroom with His bride in the One Sacrifice; the New Covenant is radically historical, utterly new, utterly unique, and utterly irreplaceable -- not replaceable by, translatable into, anything else whatever.

Similarly, within covenantal, "kinship" moral contexts, every relationship -- every baptismal name, and by that baptism a man's personal name -- is unique and irreplaceable.

It is impossible to abstract a personal, baptismal name to arrive at its 'essence'; for there is no such thing as a dehistoricized 'essence' that is 'before', 'beyond', 'behind' the specific and particular free history of gifts, works, and obligations that just is the person's baptismal name.

The actions a baptismally-named person takes in history continuously nourishes and sustains his particular history of gifts, works, and obligations -- which just is his name, his very existence -- or alternatively, it erodes his name, his very being, in history, even repudiates it.

No personal name in any kinship morality can be translated into any other. One brother is not another brother; their personal names, which just are their very particular history within the history of the kinship group, cannot be 'translated' at all.

In "kinship"-based morality, "John-the-first-son-of-Jacob" cannot be 'translated' to "Jack-the-second-son-of-Jacob," but in "rational" moral theologies, this translation must not only be possible, it is utterly necessary.

For "rational" moral theologies, "John" and "Jack" are 'really' placeholders, not a definition of their untranslatable histories, or else reason cannot deduce their various rights and responsibilities from a common dehistoricized 'human nature'.

It will of course be nearly impossible to convince any moral theologies deploying "the rationalized notion of 'nature' heretofore in common use" that there is any 'problem' of translatability at all, since these posit that a rationalized examination of 'nature' can necessarily resolve all difficulties -- given that anything irrational or a-rational is simply absurd, incomprehensible by definition.

We attempt a way in. In "kinship" moralities, your mother tells Jack that he should do thus-and-so for John "because he's your brother."

What "rational" moralities cannot understand is that the historical relationship itself is the sum total of what a "kinship" morality can advance as a "reason" why Jack owes John:

... in every case, the cause of your obligation to another, the reason for it, why you owe it, just is that you owe it. That is, you owe it to him as a result of the history so far of your kinship group's web of gifts, works, and obligations, and correspondingly the history so far of your personal gifts, works, and obligations within your kinship group -- and there exists no other "reason," no other cause 'before' or 'beyond' that, for your obligation.

A dramatic advantage of a "kinship" morality is that in it each person automatically possesses an irreplaceable history, which is his irreplaceable name, and yet each person is irreducibly connected to the history -- the names -- of every single person in the kinship group.

By contrast, we have observed previously that the Thomist framework for moral theology can give no account of the irreplaceable character of each person -- each 'material individual' differs from another only in quantity or extension; their substantial being exists not in itself but only as it is part of an essence, as (yet another) member of a species. Or, if such a framework tries to account for the irreplaceable character of each person, it automatically dis-integrates even the thought of "intraspecific communication":

Reference has already been made to the problem of assigning substantiality, whether to the individual, as is usual, or to the species, as seems to be more in accord with the act-potency analysis and even with the definition of substantiality, a reality whose unity in being is in se et non in alio. Whichever course be taken, the classic notion of material substantiality must remain incoherent, as has been shown: there is in fact no provision in the classic analysis for a concrete specific form in which the individual member of the species might participate and thus find a base even for its immanent (necessary) intelligibility and its (necessary) intraspecific or immanent activity, while to attribute substantial being to the material individual is to leave the reality of intraspecific communication unaccountable. This systematic impasse eliminates the rational possibility within the classic Thomist metaphysics of any material substantiality, whether of the species as a concrete universal, or of the isolated material individual, and does so without remainder.

The conclusion is then forced: the notion of a material substance, insofar as concerns the classic Thomist format, is unintelligible, incapable of a coherent act-potency account.

[CT Vol II (Chap V), p.446]

Therefore, covenantal moral theologies must refuse the standard moral framework "heretofore in common use," root and branch. In the classic Thomist format, the notion of a material substance is unintelligible, "incapable of a coherent act-potency account."

Covenantal moral theologies must take that result seriously, for taken at the letter, that result makes any kind of Catholic moral theology impossible from before the outset. We suspect that the result has never been taken at the letter because the classic approach can imagine no alternative framework for moral theology other than itself: by its own standards, all other frameworks are of necessity either a relativism or a flat absurdity.

A "kinship" morality resolves what is irresolvable in the classic Thomist approach to moral theology, and invents no new category, concocts no new 'nature', to do so, but only reminds the Church of what she has kept in her heart all along: her relation to her Lord is nuptial, and her relation to us is as her sons and daughters.

This entirely Eucharistic nuptial relation in the One Sacrifice, and hence this entirely sacramental familial relation in the blood of the Lord, is radically historical, not ideal, not reified, not an 'example' of some 'higher' essence or truth or substance.

There is nothing 'before', 'beyond', 'behind'' those relations that 'give' them substantial being. Their substantial being just is their radically historical relation, just is the sheer history of their gifts, works, and obligations. "Out of the work, it works."

We have demonstrated that covenantal moral theologies can fully account for the entire weight of the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and the eternal punishment of Hell, and of sin, indulgences, forgiveness, contrition, a firm purpose of amendment, and temporal punishment.

And all within a covenantal, Eucharistic, radically historical moral context which simply refuses "the rationalized notion of 'nature' heretofore in common use."

But this is the kind of thought that cannot even be thought within a "rational" moral universe, for even the idea of a morality not founded on Rationality (however defined) must of necessity either be a relativism or a blank surd. Moral thought is founded on rational principles -- founded well or poorly -- and that's that; it's preposterous to think otherwise, literally beyond reason.

Thus it is only within a "rational" moral framework that it seems incomprehensible to state that the Church's knowledge also of sin -- of what is disordered -- is perforce entirely relational, radically historical, entirely sacramental and foundationally Eucharistic, since her knowledge of what is ordered is entirely thus. The Church knows of no 'nature' 'before', 'beyond', 'behind' her Eucharistic, radically historical, union with her Lord.

To repeat what we have said elsewhere, the Catholic Church is flat unable to judge -- bind and loose -- the actions of those whom she does not yet know as her sons. Not only the Church's authority, but also her wisdom, extends only as far as her radically historical Eucharistic worship of her Lord, and not any further, at least directly.

Put differently, the Catholic Church knows in her heart that sun and moon bless the Lord, but she does not know, at least directly, "how the heavens go," because her knowledge is entirely relational, Eucharistic, radically historical, nuptial, covenantal.

What the Church knows, she knows entirely in her One Flesh union with her Lord in the One Sacrifice; she simply has no direct 'knowledge' 'before', 'beyond', 'behind' her Eucharistic, radically historical, union with her Lord.

With regard to the Catholic Church, the word 'know' cannot be interpreted dehistorically, but only relationally, radically historically, sacramentally, liturgically. Perforce she cannot 'know' -- and thus cannot judge -- the deeds of men whom she does not yet know -- truly know: relationally, radically historically, sacramentally, liturgically know -- as her sons.

The Church can only tell those she knows as her sons and daughters what is to be done, and what cannot be done, because her 'reasons' for what can and cannot be done are entirely relational, radically historical, sacramental: the reason that Jack should do thus-and-so for John is that "he's your brother." There simply is no 'reason' 'before', 'beyond', 'behind' that.

The question arises, what then could the Church's relation be to any of those who are not her sons?

The Church is certainly most able to be clear what must be done, in order for her to know a person as her child. Those who sought "The Way" were told quite plainly that you had to participate in certain sacramental rites in certain ways, but you also had to say you believed certain things and rejected others, and you had to do certain things and not others: for example, you needed to provide for and then forswear wives two through four, and cling to wife number one alone.

You were choosing a specific life, a Way, not only specific sacramental rites and specific dogmas. And they were all important, it all counts. From the perspective of covenantal moral theologies, the Way, in its manifold entirety: sacramental rites, dogmas, and actions, is what makes you kin, gives you a name within the kinship, begins, nourishes, and sustains your history of gifts, works, and obligations with your kin.

And since you simply are your unique history of gifts, works, and obligations within the kinship group, you erode or even lose your name -- yourself -- by repudiating, etc. those rites, those dogmas, and that life. It's all important; it all counts.

From the standpoint of covenantal moral theologies, the Catholic Church is "universal" in that she is both capable of, and solemnly charged with the duty to, proclaim, confess, invite everyone who has ever lived and who ever will live to become known to her as her sons -- yet hers is ever an invitation, not ever an implacable and enforced necessity that would deny the very freedom of God, Who, far from enforcing a necessity, manifested Himself as a free and relational responsibility not only to Adam and Eve but also to the devil himself.

The Church knows the one true God of a free responsibility, of Love, entirely relationally, only in her One Flesh union with her Lord and Bridegroom in the One Sacrifice.

Thus also, the Church is charged with offering substantial human nature to all men; but she does not and cannot impose that.

Fallen human nature certainly is imposed, necessitated, but not the substantial human nature that the Church knows, possesses, as gift. For her Covenant with her Bridegroom is itself substantial human nature, and as such, is the true Image of the Most Holy Trinity.

The created human substance is an Event, caused by, but also a constitutional aspect of, the New Covenant itself. The Church thus knows, possesses, substantial human nature as gift, in her very act of knowing, possessing, her Lord and Bridegroom as gift, in the very act of being One Flesh with Him in the One Sacrifice.

The Catholic Church knows "by heart," possesses as gift, substantial human nature, but she has no particular knowledge or wisdom apart from her participation in the One Flesh in the One Sacrifice, by which alone she knows her Lord's brothers as her sons.

And only as the Mother of her sons does she know what her sons can and cannot, must and must not, do. Her moral sense is entirely relational, historical, Eucharistic, liturgical.

The moral character of the activity of those who as yet have no free substantial human nature -- those whom she does not yet know as her sons -- at best, can only be dimly perceivable by her. She may divine hints of what is good in their activity, but she does so entirely from within her nuptial, liturgical relation to her Lord and her maternal, liturgical relation to her sons.

In other words, the only moral language native to her is relational, historical, Eucharistic, liturgical. She is only able to tell Jack to do thus-and-so for John, "because he's your brother."

She has access to, she knows, her Lord, only as she is One Flesh with Him in the One Sacrifice; and she has access to, she knows, us only as her sons, only as we eat the One Bread and become her Lord's brothers.

She has no particular access to, she has no true knowledge of, "the rationalized notion of 'nature' heretofore in common use." She is not able to tell Jack to do thus-and-so for John, "because I have knowledge of, access to -- and moreover, a unique, privileged, and authoritative access to -- a time-less, dehistoricized, necessitated, non-liturgical, impersonal, rationalized moral ordo, legislated by a rationalized 'God' 'before', 'behind', 'beyond' my One Flesh union with my Lord in the One Sacrifice."

She is only able to tell Jack to do thus-and-so for John, "because he's your brother."

She is flat unable to provide Jack with the only reason she knows and will ever know for Jack to do thus-and-so for John, if Jack is not yet known to her as her son.

Here we recall that her Lord taught her both by word and deed how she is to treat strangers and even enemies, but not how these same should treat each other. For example, He was notably unresponsive to appeals to adjudicate the relationship between Roman and Jew.

We mention, in order immediately to put to one side, that the Catholic Church also thus has, and can have, no unique or particular, let alone authoritative, knowledge of (for example) politics and law.

However, the Church's worship, and the substantial human nature and the New Covenant that she freely offers to all men, is a continuous, historical factum in the world of men, even in the world of erratically benevolent strangers, and enemies.

The fact of her in the world of men is particularly potent and evident in the sacrament of Matrimony, which Images into the everyday world of men the substantial human nature of the New Covenant, the Image of the Most Holy Trinity.

The effects of the sheer fact of her in the world of sarx are indirect, since her kingdom with her Lord is not of this world, but they are nonetheless real, continuous, infallible, and ex opere operato.

The world may react to this factum of her continuing historical presence in various ways: as leaven, as a seemingly-'natural' trellis to which the world can attach and grow partially skywards and flower, as a stumbling block, as an annoyance, as opposition. However it reacts, she is able to persist, drawing strength from her Lord and Bridegroom. Her historical work with Him continues as One Flesh in the One Sacrifice, and cannot be undone.

Obviously, that our Lord neglected to proclaim a moral ordo apart from His invitation to "Come, follow Me," let alone a universal, 'natural', rationalized moral ordo that applies to all men regardless of their relationship to Him, is considered preposterous, beyond the pale, ridiculous, insupportable, by the "rational" moral theologies "heretofore in common use."

But for covenantal moral theologies, the Fall was real. Apart from the death of the Lord, apart from the Eucharist, apart from the New Covenant, human solidarity hangs by the merest thread. We are brothers solely in the death of the Lord, solely as we eat the One Bread of the One Flesh in the One Sacrifice.

For covenantal moral theologies, apart from Man's participation in the Church's sacraments, there flatly is no substantial brotherhood of Man, no universal (fallen) moral ordo, to which she can appeal.

.. 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.

In fact, for covenantal moral theologies, a necessitated brotherhood, a substantial, true moral ordo that is imposed on Man -- by 'generation' or 'nature' or in any other way -- contradicts everything about the free responsibility of substantial human being that the Church possesses as Gift and offers to all men of all times and places.

From the standpoint of covenantal moral theologies, it is impossible for the Catholic Church to offer as Good News:

For covenantal moral theologies, the Catholic Church can only offer what she herself possesses as Gift: the free responsibility of her nuptial union with her Lord; a substantial human nature that is imposed on no man; a moral ordo that is foundationally free, historical, mediated, multi-personal, sacramental, nuptial, covenantal, and can only freely be taken up, so that Man can be lifted up.

Obviously this is a vulnerability of covenantal moral theologies that former moral theologies posit -- by definition, as it were -- that they are entirely immune to.

Be that as it may, we have tried our best to show that the epistemology of moral theologies "heretofore in common use" cannot sustain the project of Catholic moral theology.

And we assert here that the patent vulnerability in the epistemology of covenantal moral theologies must simply be suffered, and cannot be 'solved'.

The only 'solution' would be to 'translate' a relational, radically historical, entirely sacramental, foundationally Eucharistic epistemology into the dehistoricized, rationalized epistemology "heretofore in common use."

But by the standards of covenantal moral theologies, this would entirely "de-nuptialize" the Church's knowing of her Lord in the One Sacrifice, and "de-family," literally dis-integrate, the irreplaceable historical, personal -- baptismal, Eucharistic -- names of her sons into a "rationalized notion of 'nature'."

And from the perspective of covenantal moral theologies, that amounts to "insanity -- stark raving disconnectedness, madness on the hoof."

Hence, however blushingly vulnerable a covenantal epistemology renders covenantal moral theologies, a 'resolution' of the vulnerability into a "rationality," cannot be done.

However little or much covenantal moral theologies know about 'order' and 'dis-order', 'good' and 'bad', and however incompetently they intellectually develop and appreciate what they truly know, they must humbly stick to their lasts.

Anything 'before', 'behind', 'beyond' what the Catholic Church knows, possesses as gift, nuptially, covenantally, relationally, radically historically, Eucharistically, liturgically, as the bride of her Bridegroom in the One Sacrifice, and in that same One Sacrifice, what she knows as the Mother of her sons as they eat the One Bread and hence become brothers with her Lord, if it is not simply off-limits to covenantal moral theologies, can at best only be taken as a heuristic, as entirely provisional, as utterly discardable.

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