Bridging the Gap: Spiritual Traditions and the Quotidian Practices of Lay Women

Team Members/Contributors

Claire Elizabeth Wolfteich Boston University Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

My project explores a particular dilemma of Christian spirituality: how address the continuing gap between many “classic” texts and contemplative models of spiritual renewal, on the one hand, and the concrete realities of life for American women who are mothering and working outside the home? In particular, I ask how serious consideration of women’s experiences with children, work, and “time famine” might reshape our understandings of Christian spirituality within the Roman Catholic community. How bring those real contemporary contexts and women’s own voices into a mutually critical dialogue with traditions of Christian spirituality? In this book, I will work closely with focus group reports of American Catholic women from 50 dioceses, sociological studies on time use and family, and women’s spiritual autobiographies. I will draw these sources into conversation with theologies around mothering, work, and domestic church; recent Catholic moral theology; Jewish and Christian writing on Sabbath; and additional spiritual classics. Through this work, I will be addressing issues related to tradition and the teaching and learning of spiritual practices. How do spiritual traditions actually shape (or fail to shape) the practice of contemporary laity? How might the practices of contemporary lay women contribute to the tradition’s body of spiritual knowing? Literature on practical theology, theological education, spiritual formation, and the academic study of spirituality will be highly relevant here. The project will move to creatively re-envision models of lay spiritual renewal. Looking to prepare pastoral leaders and spiritual guides who are attuned to the complexity of women’s lives, I also explore implications for spiritual formation and theological education. In addition to the book, I will craft several articles intended for scholarly and church audiences, a new course for graduate theological education, and a workshop for adult faith formation in the parish.

Image Title Year Type Contributor(s) Other Info
Invitation to Practical Theology: Catholic Voices and Visions 2014 Book Claire Elizabeth Wolfteich