By the grace of God in their conformity to God’s will, and through participation in Mary’s Spiritual Maternity1, Spiritual Mothers can bear children in the order of grace. Because we, as human beings, are composed of body and soul all women are capable of bearing spiritual children.2 As seen in the life of our Lady, Mary’s “yes” to God’s will precedes her role as the physical mother of Christ.3 Her fidelity of conforming her will to God’s exceeds her physical motherhood of Jesus.
Consequently, for women who are not capable of physically having children, for those who are not called to married life (i.e. those who are consecrated or celibate for the sake of the kingdom), and for those who do not have children based on their state of life, they are not limited only to acts of spiritual maternity, but in a real sense, are capable of bearing children in the order of grace.
Cloistered Nuns who do not have a physical spouse are the primary example of women who bear children in the order of grace. By their conformity to the will of God and their faithfulness to the Gospel, they have many spiritual children outside the monastery walls!
And so, by acts of faith and by doing the will of God, women are able to “beget”, “engender” or “bear” spiritual children. St. Catherine of Siena would describe this experience as “giving birth to souls”4 and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross would express it as one striving to “win human beings for God, to carry Him into souls, to beget and secure His children.”5
1) Congregation for the Clergy, Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity (2nd Edition), Page 13
2) cf. Pope St. John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, 21; cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 62, 64; cf. Vatican II, Apostolicam Actuositatem, 16; cf. Pope St. Gregory the Great, quoted in the Catena Aurea on Matthew 12:50; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on St Matthew, 12, 49-50
3) cf. St. Augustine, Sermon 25, 7-8: PL 46, 937-938; cf. Pope Paul VI, Signum Magnum
4) St. Catherine Siena, The Letters of Catherine of Siena, 4 vols. trans. Suzanne Noffke, p. 105
5) Edith Stein, Essays on Woman, Second Edition, Revised, p. 117