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Crying Out To Heaven For Vengeance

John Kelleher

In this essay, we will not treat of the lesser or greater merit of human vengeance upon evil; we will only treat of covenantal Vengeance, divine Vengeance, the only Vengeance that can fully satisfy the cry for Vengeance.

To begin with, the basis of the cry for Vengeance cannot be a rationalized, nonhistorical account of 'nature' or a similar 'justice.' These are unavailable to covenantal moral theologies as a matter of method.

Further, covenantal 'Vengeance' is not in any way a redress of 'injustice' that 'restores' by violence (for that matter, by any way whatever) an Ideal cyclical universe, a pagan status quo ante. Such a Vengeance is not historical, not covenantal, not Eucharistic, not sacramental; it never happens.

Moreover, 'history' -- that is, any way whatever to 'remember' or make some mark within fallen 'nature' -- will not, does not, cannot, forever honor the memory of sins that cry out to Heaven for Vengeance. 'History' can be re-written by the powerful and the corrupt; 'history' can be distorted by the weak, the incompetent, and the resentful. More than this, any marking whatever about anything whatever within fallen 'nature' not only inevitably recedes into the past, it also will eventually be devoured by the past.

Much to the contrary, the Lord Jesus honors the personal consequentiality of evil acts to the death. In the Eucharist offered in His Person on this day, which is forever inseparable from His death on the Cross, the Lord simultaneously honors, to the death, the freedom and hence the terrible consequentiality of the sinful acts of Adam and Eve and also of our own sinful acts, while 'routing around' those evils in His sheer gift on this day of the Spiritus Creator, stronger than death, stronger than sin.

For covenantal moral theologies, certain sins cry out for the Vengeance that can only be delivered in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. For only by the offering of the One Sacrifice can the consequentiality of these evils -- that they were suffered in real life by real people -- never recede into the past, never, ever be discounted, ignored, or forgotten, but rather be honored by our Lord Himself, to the death. Simultaneously with the sacramental offering in our Lord's Person of His sacrificial death, a genuine new creation that 'routes around' these evils is gifted into history by the Spiritus Creator, stronger than death, stronger than sin, guaranteeing that the consequences of these evil acts will not be the last word.

That is covenantal Vengeance.

We must also consider that only some particular sins are said in Scripture to cry out to Heaven for Vengeance.

The particularity of our deeds is not reducible to some Fundamental Option; as we have said, Eve ate that fruit, not a Fundamental Option.

Our sins being particular, not reducible to a theory, Mother Church knows that there are specific sins that cry out to Heaven for Vengeance. She knows this not by means of a rationalized hierarchy of sins given either by 'nature' or by 'justice', but in her heart, in her worship.

Of course some hierarchy of sins, formal or informal, systematic or not, must serve confessors as well as those who confess to them. We focus today on a heuristic within traditional moral theology: offenses become 'greater' not only directly but also indirectly, for not only are sins lighter or greater in themselves, but also, some sins are greater because they are in actuality a compendium of many offenses.

Thus a sin against chastity may also be a sin against charity and a sin against justice, compounding the gravity of the sin; and so forth.

But covenantal moral theologies propose that such hierarchies of the greatness or lightness of sin are far more vulnerable if founded on a rationalized, nonhistorical (to say it again: hence non-existent) 'nature' or a similar 'justice', rather than being firmly responsive to morality itself, which, as we have said, is not any idea or theory, nor anything rationalized or nonhistorical at all.

For covenantal moral theologies, morality is instead a praxis, radically in history: foundationally the praxis that is the Eucharist and the six other sacraments which flow from it; more broadly, morality just is the praxis that is the sacraments, rites, beliefs, and kinship history of gifts, works, and obligations that is The Way.

Today we will have little directly to say about the Bizarro World of the moral theology of Pope Francis and his minions and fellow travelers; what instead prompts this essay is the Bizarro World of a rather untypical subset of Gay moral theology, in that it is not about sly winks and nods, but instead fully accepts the (nonhistorical, a-sacramental) categories of traditional moral theology.

We are going to be brief, because anything longer on such a topic is irrelevant and icky, and the point we are making in this essay is that covenantal moral theologies can quickly sketch the outlines, not merely of an ad hoc demurral, but of a fully systematic rebuttal.

A putative Gay moral theologian of this type may begin his argument as follows: if we proceed by 'nature' (as we should), then certainly, homosexual acts are against nature. But, he continues, homosexual acts are a lighter sin than adultery, because while adultery too is against nature, it is also against justice -- meaning also against the contract of fidelity made by the married couple.

Masturbation is of course, like homosexual acts, against nature. Is masturbation, our Gay moral theologian continues, a worse sin than adultery? No, he responds, because adultery is not only against nature but also against justice.

And so forth. And, by the way, our putative Gay moral theologian continues, the "sin of Sodom" is in fact a support, perhaps even a proof, of this argument. For while sodomy is against nature, other sins against nature are not mentioned as particularly crying out to Heaven for Vengeance, but the "sin of Sodom" is. That must mean that the sin of Sodom is rather a compendium of sins, one against nature, but others against justice. Hence sodomy per se does not cry out to Heaven for Vengeance.

Whether sodomy per se cries out to Heaven for Vengeance is above our pay grade, but the rebuttal to the general argument in brief: corporeal sex, moaning-and-groaning-and-thrashing-about inherently fecund sex between a baptized man and his baptized wife within the sacrament of Matrimony is holy not because of 'nature' or 'justice,' but solely because Matrimony is a sacrament.

And those freely holy, freely moral, fully corporeal sexual acts between a baptized man and his baptized wife are the consummation of the sacrament of Matrimony, in exactly the same sense as the reception of Holy Communion is the consummation of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Some allowance -- not exception -- must be made for a Josephite marriage, in which the corporeal consummation of the marriage is freely forgone by the couple but a non-empirical yet still sacramental and thus historical consummation of the marriage by its ministers must exist.

Therefore, just as much as the Event of the Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, requires its consummation by the corporeal consumption of the Body and Blood of the Lord, at the very least by its minister, the priest, the Event of the sacrament of Matrimony is inseparable from, requires, its own consummation, which in the case of this sacrament is solely completed by that sacrament's ministers, the husband and wife, and, in the ordinary way, in corporeal sex.

We have used the word "Event" advisedly in the case of both sacraments. Covenantal Theology repeatedly calls the Eucharist an Event, first, in order to mark and honor the irreplacebility not only of the words of Consecration but also of the entire history which is the acts of Offering, Consecration and Communion within the Holy Sacrifice. But there is also a wider sense. This Mass offered in His Person is inseparable both from His Cross and from the Last Supper, and in this sense also the Eucharist is an Event.

But just as this Mass offered in His Person is inseparable from His Cross, the free holy moral praxis of this day of a Marriage is inseparable from the Event of their sacrament, which just is a praxis, acts and breaths and works and prayers radically in history, the utterly unique sacrifice and sacrament and covenant of Matrimony offered to each other by an utterly unique and irreplaceable (that is, baptized) man and his utterly unique and irreplaceable (that is, baptized) wife.

It would therefore be as out of place to regard, as somehow 'lesser' or even as some sort of 'sin', regular, frequent, fully corporeal moaning-and-groaning-and-thrashing-about fecund consummations within the unique, irreplaceable, indissoluble-until-death Event of this sacramental marriage, according to the freedom of the couple sacramentally Named as its unique and irreplaceable ministers, as it would have been to regard as out of place, as somehow 'lesser' or even as some sort of 'sin', the twenty to thirty gallons of water in each of six stone jars [ Jn 2:6 ] turned into wine by our Lord at the wedding feast in Cana.

The "fastidiousness" of much former moral theology regarding corporeal sex even between a validly and sacramentally married husband and wife has therefore a nonhistorical, non-covenantal, a-sacramental foundation; viz., it has no foundation. The ordinary, fully corporeal, praxis that is the consummation of the Event of the sacrament of Matrimony by its ministers is an integral part of the free holy moral praxis of that sacrament.

Fundamental to covenantal moral theologies is the nuptiality of the New Covenant, One Flesh in the One Sacrifice. Matrimony is the sacrament that Images the nuptiality of that Eucharistic Event.

Covenantal Theology points out over and again a corresponding "fastidiousness" in many former theologies regarding the particularity of the Bridegroom of the New Covenant, the Lord Jesus Himself, Who thence becomes confined within their systems as a nonhistorical Trinity-immanent Son sensu negante.

For this essay, it suffices to recall that the Lord Jesus is historical; He is not 'accidentally' male as the Head of His Glory, as the Bridegroom of His bride.

And Mary, the new Eve whose existence is inseparable from that of His bridal Church, is not The Model Disciple, she is Mary; she is not 'accidentally' female as the Glory of her Head, as the bride of her Bridegroom.

Now recall that within covenantal moral theologies, adultery is intrinsically wrong because it simulates the sacrament of Matrimony.

But adultery at least honors the sacrament by being a simulation of it. Homosexual acts cannot even do that. They are not a deformation of the free holy order of the sacrament of Matrimony but rather are "intrinsically disordered," incapable of referring to the sacrament of Matrimony at all, only capable of opposing it.

The nuptiality of the New Covenant, which just is substantial reality, is radically heterosexual, not as the result of some prior nonhistorical Idea or Form or recipe, but because the Bridegroom is concretely, specifically male in concrete specific history, and His bride is concretely, specifically female in concrete specific history. The radical historicity of the New Covenant, in which freedom is expressed by particularity, not 'limited' by it, is simply fundamental covenantal moral theology.

Hence the nuptiality of the sacrament of Matrimony that Images the New Covenant is also integrally heterosexual. There is no such thing as a nuptial relation that is not heterosexual.

Homosexual acts are by definition, independent of circumstances, not heterosexual, thus not nuptial, even by reference. Unlike many other sexual sins, they cannot even in theory be a sad broken mirror of the sacrament of Matrimony; they are rather in themselves an attack upon it.

To say this as clearly as we are able: homosexual acts in themselves, independent of circumstances, annihilate to the bare naked ground, they physically displace, the corporeal sexual acts which are inseparable from the ordo of the sacrament of Matrimony and that are the consummation of that sacrament. Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered -- they are inherently anti-order, anti-sacrament.

Adultery is definitely, intrinsically wrong, the simulation of a sacrament, the abandonment of covenant, the forsaking of the person whose name is closest to you as long as you both shall live, a great tragedy; but homosexual acts are wrong six ways from Sunday. Stay away from both of them.

But this is not a 'proof', not part of the operation of an autonomous 'logic' in search of the final unassailable ratio that can be cut no finer; such a logic is unhappy with history, with particularity per se, and is ever disappointed by it. By an inexorable dis-integration of particularity, it seeks an unfree and time-less Ideal 'beyond' history within which a supposedly autonomous mind can bind itself whether it likes it or not.

Within the Gift of the New Covenant, the choice of 'this' and not 'that' remains free, free to the mind, to the body, to the person whose substantial name can exist solely within The Way, within a foundationally sacramental kinship history with the Bridegroom with His bride and with all their kin.

Covenantal moral theologies are theologies of gift, they are prisoners of gift; such 'proofs' are unavailable to covenantal moral theologies as a matter of method. Covenantal moral theologies cannot quiet the mind, only keep the mind optimistic, still searching further, curious, alive, ready for more of Gift, for the possibility of substantial existence not as autonomous, not time-lessly, but radically in history, in ecclesia.

The greatest thing that covenantal moral theologies can offer to the mind, as its own gift in ecclesia, is an invitation, not a binding: in the end, the Lord's question will always remain: "Who do you say that I am?"

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