Thinking about being mother and maternal, in a spiritual way
by Nicole Rubano to Lunàdigas
“Wife of Jesus”, “mother of all Christians”, “brothers”: and so, has the Church got its own family, too? In the ‘house’ of who dedicates an entire existence to God, no one seems to escape specific peculiarities based on gender. In fact, society, including the ecclesiastic universe, is dominated by patriarchal structures within every socio-cultural group. In other words, in the Church, nuns and priests keep their performativity of masculine and feminine in their spiritual path.
On the one hand, following female social role, a nun is considered part of the marriage with God, being a mother and a servant of divine and superior principles. In addition, she is recognized, together with Mary, as a maternal support for the religious community, filling the lacked reproduction with a metaphysical aim. On the other hand, male social role is performed in a priest’s functions. He is the ‘leader’ of public rituals, being the only direct mediator between the community and God – thus, excluding any female role. Finally, the community in itself is referred as “brothers” at the beginning of the mess, generalizing the public as a male category. In the same way, society speaks of “mankind” rather than “humankind”.
These premises are fundamental in order to define a ‘lunàdiga nun’, because they offer some details of female religious life. Specifically, a nun chooses the marriage with God and the spiritual adoption of believers renouncing to procreation but not to maternity. In fact, she exercises a kind of spiritual protection on the convent and the religious community. Probably, this explains why a lunàdiga nun is not morally judged. The lacked procreation is irrelevant compared to the spiritual motherhood she exercises, and so the idea of “an uncomplete woman” disappears.
However, why is it so difficult to admit that a nun chooses to not be a mother as a consequence of following her divine vocation? Here, it seems that we have two interpretations of the story.
The former – more secular – shows that since novitiate, a nun voluntarily becomes childfree for personal reasons, as for any other lunàdiga woman. Then, she justifies her decisions with the religious moral which surrounds her. Nonetheless, she is still a childfree woman who has chosen an individual and social role for herself.
Contrarily, the latter interpretation – abstract and metaphysical -, recognizes to ecclesiastic non-maternity a special meaning, out of any social role. The theologist Perroni theorizes a “non-familiar God” and the three nuns meant him to be “both masculine and feminine”, showing how religious actors have not gender roles. In other words, God’s servants should not be linked to masculine and feminine, maternity and non-maternity, as well as paternity and non-paternity. It is not about renouncing to procreation: people involved in metaphysical roles have different aims in society.
These two interpretations are both credible since represent personal, deep values. In fact, it must not be taken for granted that a lunàdiga woman must surely be secular and reality-based concerning maternity issues. Indeed, Marinella Perroni shows that it is possible to be lunàdiga, laic, but also believer of divine principles.
And then, you know what? It seems that this God, without gender and performativity, is divinely queer!
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