"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Jumping Rope In The New Age–Sexual Hopscotch In The Nunnery And Gender Fluidity Beyond

Sally Jenkins had been brought up normally, that is according to the norms and standards of her times.  As such she dressed in smocks and aprons, in paten leather and frilly princess gowns, made her First Communion in a white crinoline dress with a simple tiara, knew her Catechism backwards and forwards, and received the wafer, the body and blood of Christ in perfect, holy grace. 

Image result for images little girls first communion dress

She had been well taught by the nuns, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, all of whom had given their bodies and their souls to Jesus.  He was their mystical, holy, transcendent lover, and if truth be told, their idolized physical one as well.  

The crucifix above the altar at St. Joseph de Palma Catholic Church was one of a kind, fashioned in 1930 by Roberto Serafino, a Tuscan woodworker at the behest of the Archbishop of Hartford.  The image of Jesus turned out to be far more sensual than anyone in the archdiocese ever imagined.  Few if any in the archbishopric had realized that Serafino was a homosexual, an intimate of Cardinal Della Robbia and known for his seductive depictions of all Christian figures.  Although gay, his sensual sculptures of Mary, especially those showing her holding her boy, Jesus, after his crucifixion were renowned for their profound humanity, religiosity, and sexuality.

Image result for images sexy christ on the cross

When Sally had received the host and meditated on the miracle of the absorption of Christ within her body, she looked up and saw the tautly muscled, agonized, beautiful male Christ before her.  She even in her pre-pubescent dreams wanted him, wanted him inside her more completely than a dissolving wafer.

While the Catholic Church had remained sexually traditional – following Biblical tradition and injunction, the heterosexual family was at the spiritual center of Catholic theology – there were outliers, devout, true believers who nonetheless were sexually complex.  Sister Mary Joseph, for example, had joined the Sisters of the Sacred Heart not only because she felt a calling to evangelize and to spread the good news of salvation, but because she would enter into a new, intimate, and profoundly sexual relationship with Our Lord, and thanks to her tutelage and encouragement, Sally entered the sorority.

Of course Sally, now Sister Celine Augustine never admitted this uniquely spiritual-sexual fantasy to anyone, let alone Mother Superior, but she did to those of her sister novitiates whom she knew were at the abbey for the same, hidden, secret, passionate reasons.  These women were all Sapphic but carried their particular carnality to another level.  They loved women, but the body of Christ more.  They wanted to feel, taste, and immerse themselves in the warm juices of their sister novitiates, but wanted to be taken by The Redeemer of Souls.

It was a small and very intimate group, these Sapphic, Christ-desiring women of the abbey of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, but an exclusive one.  While they eschewed actual male contact – the whole idea of male penetration was repellent -  they desired the male Christ, and in their dreams hoped that he would take them, ravish them, transport them.

Sally – Sister Celine Augustine – did not stop there.  She wondered about her brother priests, lodged in a nearby monastery.  Were they also given to carnal desire among themselves as she and her sister nuns were? And how did they feel about Jesus Christ and his clearly sexually alluring representation on the cross?  Did they cross over, imagine the Lord of Lords in sexual congress with them, while at the same time giving themselves to their brothers ?

It was when Sister Celine got her first assignment, to teach religion in a private, Catholic school in New Brighton, that she came fully of sexual age.  

Matriculation at a Catholic school was by no means an indication of a calling or vocation.  Catholic schools were simply far more disciplined and academically rigorous than public schools, so many disadvantaged families saw a Catholic education as a way up and out of the ghetto.

Image result for Images Catholic Catechism. Size: 150 x 202. Source: www.ctsbooks.org

This notwithstanding, the administrators of St. Maurice were instructed to teach the Catechism and the Way of Our Lord regardless of levels of social dysfunction and truancy. Teachers were tapped to preach the Word of God but also to trim the sails of the inner city brigands who found St. Maurice a refuge. 

There was no way, of course, that the Catholic schools could possibly avoid the controversy of gender fluidity.   Despite directives from the archbishop and the cardinal to the contrary, the gender spectrum, transgenderism, and sexual choice was a reality at St. Maurice; and just by pure happenstance, the nun chosen to teach the class on ‘Sex, Society, And Gender Fluidity’ was none other than Sister Celine Augustine. Her only issue was how to hew to current standards of taste, propriety, and academic rigor while preaching the good news of divine homosexual love. 

She had heard of a teacher in a public school nearby who had been dismissed for overstepping her bounds.  She had tried to introduce questions of sexual freedom within the context of slavery and Jim Crow, but had gotten tangled inextricably when she tried to match Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson with the bi-sexual struggles of one Esmeralda Lukens, also in bondage to Jefferson but desirous not of the great man but of his wife’s maid, a beautiful  octoroon from New Orleans.  

Sapphic love was never discussed in the current historical revisionism because only male abuse made the papers.  Yet, the sexual liaisons among slave women in the early days of the Republic were no less important.  The teacher was dunned and dismissed because of the explicit nature of her lessons.  A lesbian, the teacher could not help herself when talking about the purity, beauty, and higher moral value of Sapphic love.

Image result for images sappho

A lesbian colleague of Sister Celine suggested a way out – a modern way, a Catholic way, the gender spectrum. Yes, the whole notion of picking one’s gender rankled and raised red flags in the Vatican, but if couched in the right way, could be a well-paved byway to enlightenment.

So Sister Celine confected her class notes around the journey of Jesus from the Garden of Gethsemane to the cross, the tomb, and Celestial Paradise.  His was a progression, an evolution, a journey with an unequivocal end but with many holy interludes.  The gender spectrum, she said, was not mobile but nevertheless fungible.  Choices along the spectrum were no less important in one’s life than  any on the Via Dolorosa.

She stumbled, tripped over non sequiturs and sketchy connections, but got the point across.  Choosing one’s sexuality from among the many points on the gender spectrum was Christian, Catholic, and evolved.  She tried not to influence her charges by suggesting her particular divine-human stop on the way, her intricate human lesbian, divine straight confection ; but she couldn’t help it.  Evangelism was as much a personal crusade as a a religious one.

As is usually the case, parents got wind of Sister Celine Augustine’s wayward sexuality and quickly had her removed from the school.  The Archbishop, a straight but frustrated man, hesitated to consign her to administrative purgatory, especially because he found her confession of multiple sexualities alluring, but had to discipline her in some way.  Her punishment was to return her to the abbey where she was to serve a period of penitential reflection, but the sentence was no less  happy than that of Brer Rabbit who was thrown into the briar patch.

Image result for images brer rabbit briar patch

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