Beginning of the homily
1. Spiritual Maternity
This subject has appeared in many ways either because the cross is fruitful, because prayer finds children of God, or because spiritual children are fruits of apostolic zeal and the proclamation of the Word. This “generation” synthesizes all the fecundity of the religious. It is difficult to discern from whom it more essentially precedes. Or, if you will, it proceeds from the proclamation of the Word on the condition that this woman is filled with the love of God and souls and that she prays with tear and sighs. Then, spiritual maternity is indeed a nucleus in which is condensed the concept of her who proclaims the Word of God.
Saint John of Avila, who has a “great talent for begetting and raising children” has had the opportunity to explicate his doctrine about this subject in a causal letter to his friend and disciple Fray Luis de Granada.
In this ministry “Christ was the first” thus He is called “Father-Forever” We participate “in Him and through Him” as occurs in the priesthood. Above all, what he recommends is the vivid sentiments of the divine paternity and his majesty to which all things belong. The saint does not want the bonds of spiritual paternity, stronger than those of the flesh, to appropriate what belongs to God: “the glory of God be for God.” Now, “having the Spirit of his Son and reverence in our inner depths, confidence and pure love of God, like a faithful son towards his father, what remains is to ask him for the spirit of father towards his children that we wish to beget.” This concept that can be perfectly applied “mutatis mutandis” to the case of religious; thus, she becomes a visible image of God the Father who we do not see.
Up to this point, everything seems very poetic. Without a doubt, this is how the novice disciple saw it, enthusiastic about the “sweetness of begetting children.” However, the reality is something else.
2. “Dulce bellum inexpertis”
“To beget I confess does not consist in much work, even though it is not lacking. For if this task ought to go well, the children that we ought to beget by the word are not so much children of voice but children of tears…The one who assumes the office of father must learn to cry.”
And he continues with a descriptive definition of what it is to “bring up” in the spiritual life, worthy of a chapter in his bibliography:
Keeping Silence: “Will he not consider remaining silent when necessary, so as to help his children even when they complain about every small thing?”
Not Showing Preferences: “Will he not be careful to avoid arousing envy by loving more one than another, or of seeming to love one more than the other?”
Feeding the Soul: “He takes care to feed his children even when it means he must take the morsel from his mouth…”
Forgetting Oneself: “And even to cease being among the angelic choirs to descend to give soup to his child? It is necessary to always be composed so that his child will never find a less loving response.”
Suppressing the tears:“And even though sometimes the father’s heart might be tormented with a thousand concerns, so that he needs, for his own tranquility to give free rein to his sadness, and empty himself with tears, when his child comes he still must play and laugh with him, as if the child was his sole focus. For, who would be able to count all together the temptations, dryness, dangers, deceits, scruples, and other thousands of fantasies that come from everywhere?”
Being Vigilant: “How he needs to be vigilant so that the son will not follow these! How much wisdom he needs to bring the child back once he has fallen for these! Patience to not get tired of hearing the same questions over and over again which he has heard and responded to a thousand times, explaining again what he has already said before!”
Prayer: “What constant and courageous praying he must do to God, begging that his child not die! For, if he dies, believe me, father, no pain can equal this, neither do I believe that God has allowed another sort of martyrdom in this world as painful as that of the true Father whose son dies.”
Not to close one’s heart when this happens.
Behold the ideal of the religious, a mother, raising her children: nothing before God, transformed by the grace of Christ, everything before men. They are her joy and her pain. Tough and indulgent, a synthesis of intelligence, love and sentiments:
-Goodness: “Thus, whoever wishes to be a father, it is advisable for him to have an affectionate heart, truly of flesh, to have compassion on the children which is a great martyrdom.”
-Fortitude: “and [to have a heart] of iron to suffer the blows that the death of theirs gives in order that they do not tear down the father or make him abandon his office or faint or spend some days in which he can only cry.”
Faced with this image of the father, we better understand the criticism that he made of them: they held in nothing the task of begetting spiritual children, they fled from the labor of rearing them.” Such persons are compared to prostitutes who when they give birth to a child give it up to another to rear them and they continue in their voluptuousness. For St John of Avila, it is a negation of the priest as paternity is its fulfillment. Analogously, the absence of maternity is the negation of the religious, as possessing it is its fulfillment.
3. Virginity and Fecundity
Consecrated virginity is the cause of fecundity in the Spirit. Whosoever renounces maternity according to the flesh “for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven” becomes fertile according to the Spirit. In this charism, the gift of God to his Church, Christ is the first and the exemplar: “Christ lives his life as a virgin, even while affirming and defending the dignity and sanctity of married life. He thus reveals the sublime excellence and mysterious spiritual fruitfulness of virginity.”
This virginity is not an absence of love but rather an abundance of it which therefore bears much fruit: “The chastity of celibates and virgins, as a manifestation of dedication to God with an undivided heart, is a reflection of the infinite love which links the three Divine Persons in the mysterious depths of the life of the Trinity, the love to which the Incarnate Word bears witness even to the point of giving his life, the love "poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Rom 5:5), which evokes a response of total love for God and the brethren.”
The love, from which springs this fecundity, is an espousal love in the image of the Church, Spouse of Christ, who is at once virgin and fruitful: particular importance attaches to the spousal meaning, which recalls the Church's duty to be completely and exclusively devoted to her Spouse, from whom she receives every good thing. This spousal dimension, which is part of all consecrated life, has a particular meaning for women, who find therein their feminine identity and as it were discover the special genius of their relationship with the Lord. A moving sign of this is seen in the New Testament passage which portrays Mary with the Apostles in the Upper Room, in prayerful expectation of the Holy Spirit. We can see here a vivid image of the Church as Bride, fully attentive to her Bridegroom and ready to accept his gift. In Peter and the other Apostles there emerges above all the aspect of fruitfulness, as it is expressed in ecclesial ministry, which becomes an instrument of the Spirit for bringing new sons and daughters to birth through the preaching of the word, the celebration of the Sacraments and the giving of pastoral care. In Mary the aspect of spousal receptivity is particularly clear; it is under this aspect that the Church, through her perfect virginal life, brings divine life to fruition within herself. The consecrated life has always been seen primarily in terms of Mary — Virgin and Bride. This virginal love is the source of a particular fruitfulness which fosters the birth and growth of divine life in people's hearts. Following in the footsteps of Mary, the New Eve, consecrated persons express their spiritual fruitfulness by becoming receptive to the Word, in order to contribute to the growth of a new humanity by their unconditional dedication and their living witness.
“The greatest glory of virgins is undoubtedly to be the living images of the perfect integrity of the union between the Church and her divine Spouse. For this society, founded by Christ, it is a profound joy that virgins should be the marvelous sign of its sanctity and fecundity.”
Virginity is also fruitful in so far as it denounces the culture of death that surrounds us: “The reply of the consecrated life [to the hedonistic culture] is above all in the joyful living of perfect chastity, as a witness to the power of God's love manifested in the weakness of the human condition... in Christ it is possible to love God with all one's heart, putting him above every other love, and thus to love every creature with the freedom of God!”
Consecrated virginity is fruitful in works for the good of humanity: “at the thought of the innumerable army of virgins…who, from the first centuries of the Church up to our own day, have given up marriage to devote themselves more easily and fully to the salvation of their neighbor for the love of Christ, and have thus been enabled to undertake and carry through admirable works of religion and charity…”
Consecrated virgins are privileged members of the Church on which she places a preferential care: “In them the glorious fecundity of our mother, the Church, finds expression and she rejoices; the more the number of virgins increases, the greater is this mother's joy."
 Cf. Saint John of Avila, Complete Works, Letters, BAC, Madrid 2003, T. 4. N.1, pt. 75,7.
 Ibid., pt. 90.
 Cf. Ibid., 5.
 Ibid., 55.6
 Saint John of Avila, Complete Works, Letters, BAC, Madrid 2003, T. 4. N.1, pt. 95-100.
 Ibid., pt 105-110.
 Ibid., pt 110.
 Ibid., pt 110.
 Ibid., pt 115.
 Ibid., pt 110.
 Saint John of Avila, Complete Works, Letters, BAC, Madrid 2003, T. 4. N.1, pt. 115-120.
 Ibid., pt 120.
 Ibid., pt. 145.
 Cf. Ibid., pt 60.
 Cf. Ibid., pt 110, 7.
 John Paul II, Vita Consecrata, n. 22.
 cf. 1 Cor 7:32-34
 John Paul II, Vita Consecrata, n. 21.
 Cf. Acts 1:13-14
 John Paul II, Vita Consecrata, n. 34.
 Pius XII, Sacra Virginitas, n. 31.
 John Paul II, Vita Consecrata, n. 88.
 Pius XII, Sacra Virginitas, n. 26
 Saint Cyprian, De habitu virginum, 3, 124. (in Sacra Virginitas n. 31)