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Only The Sacrament Of Matrimony Makes Sex Holy

John Kelleher

Our primary purposes in this essay are to show that covenantal moral theologies are not only capable of naming and identifying the dis-order of sexual sins, but also are able to characterize and identify intrinsic evil, without reference to "the rationalized notion of 'nature' heretofore in common use" [ CT Vol. II, Appendix, p. 656 ] within the former moral theologies; and to show both that the former moral theologies, dependent as they are on a noncovenantal notion of 'nature', were never designed and are not at all set up to account for the full and true holiness of corporeal sexual relations between a baptized man and his baptized wife within Holy Matrimony, and that covenantal moral theologies are set up to do this, and can do it.

As we have said before, we must know what is ordered, before we can identify what is dis-ordered.

In the former moral theologies, evil was "intrinsic" if it violated 'nature', or "natural Law'. Our development here understands this to refer to a dis-order beyond circumstance, at the level of substance.

Then we remind ourselves that for covenantal moral theologies, "substance" has nothing to do with "the rationalized notion of 'nature' heretofore in common use." "Substance" is covenantal, radically historical, ecclesial -- sacramental.

Thus, simulating a sacrament is a lie and a repudiation at the order of substance -- which is the order of holiness. It is a repudiation at the order of the sacrament, and a repudiation at the order -- the name -- of the minister, or of one who pretends to that name. The deed in question is thus intrinsically evil, evil at the order of substance.

We dread the day when the Catholic Church may have to define many things that once had been taken to be so obvious that they never needed to be defined, such as that only carbon-based lifeforms can be baptized, that no entity whose relation to water is such that it is unable to be drowned by water can be baptized, &c.

For if God sets any limits on the insanity or the decadence of men, or on the extent of their revulsion at the sheer particularity, the 'this-ness' of the New Covenant, we have yet to encounter it.

Even now the days are long past when the particularity, the 'this-ness', of The Way, while still revolting, could be taken as enough of a threat as to actually scandalize anybody, though we may hope that The Children Of This World are so busy with other things, and so warring among themselves, that they regard the particularity of The Way as nothing but a very small irritant now -- lest they make a really serious attempt not merely to undermine us at every turn but to crush us utterly, and our children to the tenth generation, and very probably, to succeed in so doing, or near as.

Previously we had marveled at, appreciated, the clarity and confidence developed over the centuries by the practitioners of "the rationalized notion of 'nature' heretofore in common use." They had, it seemed, and strove to have, an answer for everything, including and particularly an answer for everything sexual.

To covenantal moral theologies, however, this entire line is closed off, as a matter of method, as no more now than a worthy effort. Its defense of Catholicism may in some cases and for some souls still be effective, but its effectiveness is no more than rhetorical.

In the sacrament of Matrimony, a man, who as personally named by baptism is kin to the Bridegroom with His bride and therefore is consubstantial with them, and a woman, who as also personally named by baptism is also kin to the Bridegroom with His bride and therefore is also consubstantial with them, make a free, sacrificial, covenantal, nuptial, radically historical, sexual, corporeal union whose cause is, and which Images, the New Covenant, the Eucharist, as the free, sacrificial, covenantal, radically historical nuptial union of Jesus the Lord with the Church Images the Most Holy Trinity.

The fundamental difficulty theologians have perennially had with the sacrament of Matrimony is therefore (to make a mild pun) "one and the same" trouble they have had saying that Jesus is Lord.

Ignoring the apostolic, liturgical, scriptural and magisterial testimony to the contrary, the bulk of contemporary theologians continue to take for granted that the subject of the Mission of the Son from the Father, and therefore the subject of the Logos sarx egeneto of Jn. 1:14, of Jesus' self-emptying, κνωσις (kenōsis) in Phil. 2:6-7, and finally of the Nicene Creed"s σρκωθντa (sarkothenta), is not Jesus but the "immanent Son," whose pre-existence consequently cannot be primordial, as Jesus' pre-existence was clearly affirmed to be in Phil. 2:6-7, in Jn. 1:1 and 1:14. Consequently, contemporary theology rejects out of hand the primordial pre-existence, i.e., "in the beginning," of the human Son, the divine Word who is Jesus the Lord, but rather takes for granted the pre-existence of a supposedly Trinity-immanent divine Son, whose existence can only be ab aeterno, who is nonhistorical by definition, and of whom in consequence the Church's historical tradition and worship knows and can know nothing.

[ CT, Vol. III ]

The holiness of sexual relations thence becomes a problem for theology. At best, sex even within marriage is "good," because it is procreative (and in later theology, also because it is "unitive"), just as bread and wine are "good," because they are nutritious.

But "holy?" "Holy" as set apart, private, maybe; "holy" as only to be referred to obliquely, perhaps; but "holy" as in "physical?", as in "huffing and puffing?" as in "groaning and moaning?" ... not so much.

Further, as we have pointed out previously, within the paradigm, the 'natural law' reveals that procreation is the "primary end" not of marriage, but of sexual congress.

Like everything else in human life except sexual congress, "Getting Married" per se is 'by nature' wholly infertile; nobody believed that "Getting Married" can cause procreation.

Reason teaches that marriage can have its uses: for the solidification of alliances, for example; for the accumulation of wealth; for the continuance of patrilineage and the confirmation of inheritance; for a division of labor; as a channel for lust; and for "legitimacy" and other things good for protecting a mother and ensuring the resources of the father for successfully rearing children.

But then, many things (such as wealth, or schooling, or the State) could also be good for such purposes, or even substitute for marriage entirely. For instance, Plato held in Book V of Republic that the Guardians should be selectively bred, not marry at all, and that children would better be reared in common.

In short, the "primary end" of marriage can be said to be procreation only in the sense that the "primary end" of schooling, or wealth, or the State can be said to be procreation. None of these are the cause of procreation; all may be posited to be helpful for various things, including the successful rearing of children.

Which is to say, though both custom, and, more to the point, St. Paul and the actual worship of the Church prevented it, to follow the logic of 'nature' to its brutal conclusion: if procreation is the "primary end" in view, then sexual congress ought to be the sacrament -- not marriage.

For some, a rationalized 'nature' may serve as a partial defense of Catholic particularity, but it cannot serve as a defense in detail, not because adherents will necessarily be unable to concoct arguments regarding in vitro fertilization, "transgender" persons, "artificial intelligence," and God knows what else will come down the pike, but fundamentally because the entire scheme is flat unable to encompass "Jesus is Lord," and thus it is a system simply not Catholic enough.

The former moral theologies, then, 'spiritualize' Jesus the Lord as the "immanent Son;" and nothing but this assumption has been heard within orthodox Catholic theology for centuries.

Directly as a consequence of being, as a matter of method, deaf to the inherent, the essential, nuptiality of the Song of Songs -- the New Covenant -- the former moral theologies must perforce also deprecate the sacrament of Matrimony, as inevitably less 'spiritual', or even as insufficiently 'spiritual'; which is to render the former moral theologies, if still partly rhetorically useful, insufficient for moral theologies of sex.

For the former moral theologies, to say that sex, even within Catholic marriage, is not only "good" in some sense related to procreation or to "unity," but also that the grunting and groaning and moaning of sex is holy, is flatly scandalous, harmful to the faithful, completely ridiculous; and to say that sex -- such real sex just referenced -- within Catholic marriage is fully and truly holy, but not with regard to a "rationalized notion of 'nature'" at all, but solely because Matrimony is a sacrament is not even scandalous, not even ridiculous, it is off the table, inconceivable, incomprehensible.

However, this failure to recognize, in the Eucharistic institution of the New Covenant on the cross and on the altar, the nuptially-ordered freedom intrinsic to and inseparable from the One Flesh of Christ and the Church which constitutes it, became the commonplace of patristic, monastic and medieval theology. The cause of this inadvertence appears to be a still-insufficiently converted cosmological imagination, specified by the metaphysical monism alluded to at the beginning of this Appendix and, also, by a certain quasi-Platonic fastidiousness over the sacramentality of the nuptial union: e.g., for St. Thomas, marriage is the least spiritual of the sacraments, because the most physical. [89] Under such auspices, it became difficult to recognize in the marital "one flesh" the Magnum Mysterium of Eph. 5:32.

[ CT, Vol. III ]



St. Thomas is very clear on this point:

Ad primum ergo dicendum quod matrimonium, secundum quod ordinatur ad animalem vitam, est naturae officium. Sed secundum quod habet aliquid spritualitatis, est sacramentum. Et quia minimum habet de spiritualitate, ultimo ponitur inter sacramenta.

[ "{In reply to the first objection I answer that} Matrimony, as ordained to natural life, is a function of nature. But in so far as it has something spiritual, it is a sacrament. And because it has the least amount of spirituality, it is placed last." ]

S. T. iiia, q. 65, art. 3, ad 1

So also was Augustine, as we have seen in Vol. I, Ch. 2, endnote 93:

Beata Maria, quem credendo peperit, credendo concepit, prius mente quam ventre concipiens.

[ "Blessed Mary, whom she gave birth to by believing, she conceived by believing, conceiving first in her mind than in her womb." ]

SERM. 25, 4 (PL 38:1074) ET in The Liturgy of the Hours, IV, at 1573.

Beatior Maria percipiendo fidem Christi quam concipiendo carnem Christi. Sic et materna propinquitas nihil Mariae profuisset, nisi felicius Christum corde quam carne gestasset.

[ "Mary is more blessed in perceiving the faith of Christ than in conceiving the flesh of Christ. In the same way, maternal proximity would have benefited Mary nothing, unless she had more happily borne Christ in her heart than in her flesh." ]

DE SANCTA VIRG. 34 (PL 40:398).

Underlying this deprecation of marriage is finally the Platonic dualism which hindered the patristic appreciation of nuptial symbolism, a symbolism of which St. Thomas also was apparently ignorant, consistent with his subscription to the cosmological supposition that the sanctity of sacramental worship is in inverse proportion to its corporeality. Thus he can say of marriage that "quia minimum habet de spiritualitate, ultimo ponitur inter sacramenta." [ "because it has the least amount of spirituality, it is placed last among the sacraments." ] There is evident here a correlative ignorance of the meaning of spirituality which, in his case, is reduced to immateriality. The same cosmologically-induced fastidiousness marks Augustine's notion of Mary's conception of her Lord: it was achieved prius in mente, i.e., subjectively, before it was historically realized in her physical conception of her Son. The remedy for this Platonizing of the Church's sacramental realism lies in a comparison of the corporeality of the Eucharistic reception of the Body of Christ to which Jn. 6:53-54 refers as τρώγων, φάγετε (chew, munch, devour: eating in a sense common to beasts as well as to men) with the corporeality of the consummation of the one flesh of sacramental marriage. The one is quite as corporeal, quite as spiritual, as the other. Both are grounded in the sacrificial institution of the One Flesh of the New Covenant by the One Sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Lord who, at the request of Our Lady during the marriage feast in Cana, changed water into wine.

[ CT III n. 89 ]

In a word, a covenantal moral theology unable to say, not "poetically," but systematically, methodologically, unswervingly, that "holy" is the proper term for the grunting and groaning and moaning of a sacramentally married couple during ordinary potentially people-making sex, is a covenantal moral theology not worth a bucket of warm spit.

But any "grunting and groaning and moaning" apart from this sacramental union is gravely wrong, intrinsically wrong, because it simulates a sacrament (the consummation of a sacrament, to be precise).

Yes, such doings may also be dangerous, harmful, destructive far and wide; they may even 'look' and 'feel' like good on the hoof; but they are intrinsically wrong because they simulate a sacrament. They thus repudiate holiness per se, the true Natural Law, which is covenantal, which is sacramental and ecclesial; they violate the particularity of the radically historical ordo of the sacraments.

The radically historical ordo of the New Covenant, thence the radically historical particularity of the ordo of the sacraments, is covenantal 'Natural Law.'

This, we believe, clarifies and deepens the various discourses of Pope Saint John Paul II, grouped under the title, Theology of the Body. (This is hubris, to be sure, but it is merely hubris only if the insights of a saint can never be clarified and deepened).

Can a Catholic priest with full faculties simulate a sacrament, such that his actions are completely invalid, and gravely, scandalously, and yes, intrinsically wrong, because they repudiate holiness per se, both the substantial reality of the sacrament and his very name as a priest of Mother Church? Of course the answer is Yes.

That priest's actions would be unworthy, in the deepest sacramental sense. During those actions, he would be repudiating (if, we hope temporarily) both the sacrament, and his own worthy, personal, baptismal, and also now, ordained, name.

From the perspective of covenantal moral theologies then, Mother Church knows that any sexual acts of her children apart from the sacrament of Matrimony are intrinsically wrong, because they simulate (the consummation of) a sacrament: they repudiate holiness per se, substantial reality, the ordo, the radically historical 'natural Law' of the sacrament.

But even aside from sex apart from Matrimony, can a sacramentally married couple, in their sexual activity, simulate a consummation of their sacrament, and thus their actions are intrinsically wrong, unworthy in the deepest sacramental sense, repudiating (though we hope, only temporarily) holiness per se, both their sacrament and their own worthy, personal, baptismal and also now, married names? We say that the answer is Yes, and for exactly those reasons.

Thus we arrive at a covenantal understanding of intrinsic evil. If the sexual congress of a sacramentally married couple in all its full messy loud glorious corporeality is holy, not from "the rationalized notion of 'nature' heretofore in common use," but because Matrimony is a sacrament, then the preceding follows. This, we believe, is what Saint John Paul II was getting at, or at least, getting towards; or, at least, we think it does not contradict what he wrote and proclaimed.

We fly here to note with the greatest seriousness that the Most High has in no way reserved procreation only to the sons and daughters of His Mother, any more than He has reserved bread and wine to them.

Nonetheless, we here reaffirm both that the holiness of sexual acts between a sacramentally-married man and wife is forever known to Mother Church, and that the holiness of any sexual act of those she does not know as her kin is, and will ever be, unknown to her.

Certainly, she can know, as sin, the sinful sexual acts of her sons and daughters; but we repeat: the acts of any who are not full kin to Mother Church -- any to whom she cannot offer the sacrament of Confession -- their acts are, strictly speaking, uncharacterizable to her; for there is no "rationalized notion of 'nature'" on offer. Such a thing is entirely unavailable to her: she knows solely as the radically historical bride of her Bridegroom and Mother of her Son, and not otherwise.

The ancient Jews were clear: their Law was not 'universal'; it was a gift not to the world but to Israel. Certainly, The Way is 'universal' in the sense that, insofar as possible, the kin of Christ are to treat everyone as they would treat kin. "But I say to you, love your enemies" [Mt 5:44] is plain enough: for the kin of Christ, there are no goyim.

However, as previously mentioned, our Lord was notably unresponsive to appeals to adjudicate the relationship between Roman and Jew.

He says nothing about how those who are not His followers should treat each other. He calls the Pharisees -- even them -- to repentance; that is, He wants them -- even them -- to be His disciples; but it is scarcely necessary to deduce from this that our Lord was formulating a 'universal' Law that applied even to those who were not His disciples.

We are saying that the Ten Commandments are addressed, not directly to "the nations," but rather and primarily to the kin of our Lord and His Mother; we are saying that the Ten Commandments are commandments to His kin not because they are somehow self-evident in fallen 'nature' (though we, as the epistle to the Romans, may find traces and echoes of the Ten Commandments in fallen 'nature') but because they are read and heard in the Church's worship.

Such of course, is not a complete moral theology of the world of sticks and stones, or of how to treat murderers, liars, cheats, thieves, fornicators, etc., even among kin, nor of how to treat "the nations," or "societies," and so forth. Nor did our Lord provide such.

Mother Church is able to say to those whom she does not know as her children, "IF you were my children, I would tell you not to behave like that." But she has knowledge, she can see, no further than that. Both her authority, and her knowledge, are entirely sacramental -- relational.

Though the influence of the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, and most directly, Matrimony, upon the world of men, "veiled" as it may be, is ex opere operato and cannot be undone, we repeat what we have said before: the Catholic Church has, and can have, no unique or particular, let alone authoritative, knowledge of (for example) politics and law.

Simply, she is not, nor has she ever been, nor will she ever become, the Supreme Mistress and Arbiter of "the rationalized notion of 'nature' heretofore in common use." Her knowledge subsists in her worship; she knows her Son and Bridegroom as a Mother, as a bride; and she knows us as her own, her children, as she with her Lord 'breathe' out the Spiritus Creator Who gives us living hearts and makes us her Lord's brothers, and hence, makes her our Mother.

The Faith cannot be imposed; that much has been worked out, that much is clear. But -- given that "love comes first" -- given that neither 'Reason' nor 'nature' actually provide a 'value-free' way to the Ten Commandments -- may the kin of Christ morally impose the Ten Commandments on The Children Of This World?

If both the authority and the knowledge of the Church is sacramental, to what moral extent may any power of the kin of the Church among The Children Of This World be exercised, to express, defend, and spread The Way?

When brothers -- her sons -- war, on whose side does their Mother stand? No doubt, if covenantal moral theologies ever become important to the Church's reflections, 'nature' having become known to be unavailing, there will be some who try to bind the sacraments to one or another side of such questions.

After all, once upon a time (Hi, Investiture Controversy), some theologians, with varying support from some, even most, of the Church's hierarchy at various times, affirmed and treated certain kingships as practically or even really another sacrament -- some even used the name, "sacrament."

In a word, the mess will continue. There will remain flacks and grabbers, the power-mad and the ineffectual, and yet, there will also still remain laity, priests, and bishops who are baptized and good kin to Jesus and His Mother, who still believe with their lives that Jesus is Lord and the sacraments are real, who still freely live and have their real names within a history of gifts, works, and obligations in ecclesia, and who do their best with what is given them.

On the other hand, within the perspective of covenantal moral theologies, we can affirm the direst meaning of St. Paul's warning in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34: those baptized who are unworthy should not present themselves for Holy Communion, because their unworthy reception is simulating (the reception of) a sacrament, and thus is intrinsically evil, evil both at the deepest level of the substance of the sacrament, and at the deepest level of their own historical, personal, baptismal name -- their name which just is, as we have said previously, their very existence.

Which is to say, "giving scandal" is the least of it; from the point of view of covenantal moral theologies, those who receive unworthily, commit an intrinsic evil, the simulation of the reception of a sacrament, a repudiation at the level of substance; hence their entire kinship with the Bridegroom and His bride, their entire personal baptismal history of gifts, works, and obligations with them and all their kin throughout history -- their very existence in the New Covenant -- is at stake.

It is for this reason that covenantal moral theologies wholeheartedly affirm that any who are unworthy should not present themselves for Holy Communion.

Before moving on we do wish to clarify that a sacrament or the reception of a sacrament which is invalid due to inadvertence, is also a "simulation" of the sacrament or its reception, thus is a defect at the order of substance, and is thus intrinsically evil, but that whatever guilt can be imputed to the minister or recipient of the sacrament can well be lessened or even non-existent in the particular instance.

And this brings up a major, and ever-salient, point: Covenantal moral theologies have no wish whatever to interfere with the long centuries of debate and discussion by canonists and saints, and proclamations and decisions of the Magisterium, regarding what exactly can make the ministration or the reception of a particular sacrament invalid.

The purpose here is to clarify the grounds on which discussions were based and episcopal decisions were made. Since substantial reality is in no way encompassed or defined by a "rationalized notion of 'nature'," the Church's sacramental life was never founded on it; that much we know for a fact.

What we don't know for a fact, what in many cases we can never know exactly, is the extent to which some discussions, even some episcopal decisions, flatly rule out that the New Covenant is in fact substantial reality, and which are merely confused on the matter, or even, which understand and affirm it, if sometimes subliminally.

The Magisterium is the fundamental and the principal protector of the sacraments in history, though not the sole protector: there is some role for you and me, and even for theologians. But in the end, the Eucharist is its own protection; the New Covenant does not wait upon the rightness of our theories to be strong and good and true.

"... he remains faithful -- for he cannot deny himself." [2 Tim 2:13] The protection of the Church's sacramental life does not in the end depend on human cleverness or even human decency, but on the continuing historical work of the crucified and risen Lord with His bride; He, with her, is the sole source of Catholic optimism about the decisions of the Magisterium, the pious activity of the laity, and the fruits of honest inquiry.

As we have just said, it would be the wrongest kind of wrong for covenantal moral theologies in any way to undertake, or even to hint at proposing, a supposed "critical clean-up" of what has been hammered out regarding the validity of the ministration and reception of the sacraments.

Putting to one side the outright blasphemy and scandal this would entail, there is nothing "covenantal" about such an abject pessimism regarding salvation history, which somehow waited upon the "insights" of covenantal moral theology to at last be put right. The whole idea is pure balderdash.

Instead, our essay will now (bravely?, audaciously?, stupidly?) venture into a discussion of what these essays 'towards' a covenantal moral theology tell us about the radically historical 'order' of the sacrament of Matrimony.

We must begin, of course, with the New Covenant, which the sacrament of Matrimony Images. The New Covenant is radically historical. Because of the Fall, it is sacrificial in the extreme: the 'happy fault' does not in any way impose a mission on, compel, some "immanent Son" (thus making the sin of Adam more lordly than the Lord Himself), but it does require Jesus the Lord, in order to fulfill His Mission from the Father to give the Spirit, now to take even death itself upon His shoulders, to give even His death.

The New Covenant is nuptial, of course: One Flesh in the One Sacrifice. The covenant between the Bridegroom and His bride is personal; specifically, their unity is multi-personal, with each other but not as each other; and personal, multi-personal, also in the sense of particular, and irreplaceable, untranslatable: nobody else but Jesus the Lord the Bridegroom and His one-and-only bride, who is also simultaneously His Mother as well as the Mother of all the saints, the Church (for Mary and the Church cannot be separated), can make the New Covenant in His blood.

We have thought of a formula that says some of this: the New Covenant is free, faithful, and fecund. As we have just before noted, the New Covenant is radically historical; that is, free, arising not only from no necessity, not from any imposition, but also from no prior possibility.

The New Covenant is faithful with the faithfulness of the Most Holy Trinity Whom it Images; and as we have noted elsewhere, it is both exclusive (we are not His bride), and ecclesial -- that is, fecund -- of its essence; for, through the Holy Spirit whom the Bridegroom and His bride 'breathe' out in their living union and work, the nuptiality of the New Covenant always implies, and always brings forth and invites -- gifts -- a kinship history, personal, baptismal names as His brothers and her sons, for the rest of us.

The times being what they are, we suppose we must also spell out that the New Covenant is made by one irreplaceable male and one irreplaceable female, nor is His maleness, nor her femaleness, replaceable by, translatable into, anything else; for the created human substance is an Event, caused by, but also a constitutional aspect of, the New Covenant.

For it is Jesus -- that guy -- the son of Mary -- that particular gal -- not a supposed "immanent Son," even in His uncreated primordial pre-existence and in her created primordial pre-existence, who is Lord and son of the Father, and Bridegroom of His bride who is also ever-Virgin and ever Mater Dei.

Is this "high Christology," detached, remote? For we preach Christ crucified, Jesus the Lord, son of Mary, son of the Father, Who told us to "chew, munch, devour [His body]: eating in a sense common to beasts as well as to men."

Or: is it even possible to conceive of the very particular ecstatic moaning and groaning and thrashing about in the sexual congress of a very particular, sacramental and thus irreplaceable, untranslatable, marriage of a baptized man with his baptized wife, as intrinsically holy, and yet understand this holiness as "detached," "remote?" We are writing essays 'towards' a covenantal, not a "high," moral theology; at least, not "high" as "high" was understood by former moral theologies.

Nor is covenantal moral theology a moral theology "from below." Fallen 'nature' is no more substantial reality than a rationalized notion of it.

In sum, there is no Scylla and Charybdis to negotiate. The Catholic faith is that Jesus is Lord; Jesus in His very Person is a refusal of both 'poles' of the supposed 'dilemma', neither of which, we simply point out, can in any way account for the Lordship of Jesus; nor for the Covenant with His bride, One Flesh in the One Sacrifice; nor for "This is My Body; This is My Blood of the new and everlasting covenant;" as Covenantal Theology spends many pages proving in professional theological detail.

To repeat: in the sacrament of Matrimony, a man, who as personally named by baptism is kin to the Bridegroom with His bride and therefore is consubstantial with them, and a woman, who as also personally named by baptism is also kin to the Bridegroom with His bride and therefore is also consubstantial with them, make a free, sacrificial, covenantal, nuptial, radically historical, sexual, corporeal union which Images the New Covenant, as the free, sacrificial, covenantal, nuptial union of Jesus the Lord with the Church Images the Most Holy Trinity.

Not as a pronouncement but as a hypothesis, then, we venture that the radically historical ordo of the sacrament of Matrimony has to do with

Our principle innovation here, then, is that we attempted to derive the list strictly from an examination of the radically historical ordo of the sacrament of Matrimony.

In passing we note that (pace the canonists) an act of "promise," a vow, not an act of "contract" is the proper word. "Contract" has its uses in matrimonial canon law, but in matrimony (as canonists themselves know), "contract" is both overly particular, and not particular enough.

In this essay we have tried to show that the dis-order of sexual sins is able to be detected with reference to the radically historical ordo of the sacrament of Matrimony, without any reference to "the rationalized notion of 'nature' heretofore in common use."

In other words, the sacrament of Matrimony, not 'nature', just is substantial reality in the instance, holiness per se, thus is the true 'natural Law' of sex, and within this sacramental, historical, ecclesial, liturgical ordo, not only can we detect what sexual acts are dis-ordered, but also, we are able to found the discussion upon less pagan and more directly Catholic grounds.

By contrast, the pagan monistic 'unity' of ratio is set up in opposition to, in fact it aims to dis-integrate. the pagan orgiastic 'unity' of mythos: immateriality in opposition to the material, the time-less in opposition to endless repetition, etc.

In short, a philosophical or theological system that generates a rationalized, nonhistorical, cosmological 'nature' can by its 'nature', as it were, regard the inherent, essential, radically historical -- hence fully corporeal -- nuptiality of the New Covenant at best with the deepest suspicion, if not active revulsion, as far too reminiscent of the ceaseless corruption, the endless falling out of being, of ecstatic sexual rites and their gods and goddesses.

No wonder that "Jesus is Lord" is so tasteless to such a rationalized notion of 'nature', so impossible, inconceivable, off the table, and small wonder indeed that it would so readily and easily regard an "immanent Son" -- safely nonhistorical -- as far more satisfactory and 'reasonable'.

Such a rationalized 'nature' is thus (to use Fr. Keefe's term) "fastidious" about sex by design, not by accident. It is thus more than understandable that such a system and such a 'nature' will typically conflate immateriality with 'spiritual', as well.

All told, "the rationalized notion of 'nature' heretofore in common use" was never set up to account for the holiness of the corporeality of sexual acts within Catholic marriage -- and it doesn't, as the centuries of such a system's treatment of sex within moral theology show.

Hence, "the rationalized notion of 'nature' heretofore in common use" has never accounted for the holiness of the corporeality of sexual acts within Catholic marriage not through inadvertence but because it can't. Such a thing is -- deliberately -- systematically, methodologically, off the table, and therefore, is literally beyond its ken.

On the other hand, standing within the sacrament of Matrimony does enable one to understand, not only the specifics of the dis-orders of sexual sins and why at least some of these acts are indeed intrinsically evil, but also, standing within the sacrament of Matrimony enables one to understand the true and full holiness of the corporeality of sexual acts within Catholic marriage as well, theologically, methodologically, systematically.

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