Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Master of Arts



School or College

Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Matthew R. Petrusek


In this paper I explore what Catholic feminist Ignatian spirituality can contribute to the conversation between faith and culture, conversation that is too often muddied by vague and superficial argument and by an ‘us’ vs ‘them’ attitude driven by extremes to which the majority do not belong. The secular and the religious spring from a common past, though they exist now within the nova effect of spiritualities available today in our modern Western or North Atlantic, “secular 3” world. The 500-year-old Ignatian Exercises can be a coherent voice speaking in the cacophony of the contemporary context especially when a feminist lens is used to expand them in a more comprehensive way by applying classic feminist thought on anthropology, names of God, embodiment, and the ontological centrality of relationship to human existence. This application of a feminist hermeneutic helps us explore human reality more fully – a reality that is “irreducibly plural and not merely hierarchically dualistic.” This, in turn, helps us communicate the Exercises and a truer, deeper Christianity, than contemporary conversation typically allows. I map out the basic structure and purpose of the Exercises and offer examples of a feminist retrieval of a variety of meditations and contemplations from the “weeks” of the Exercises to illustrate how this retrieval does not negate traditional interpretation of scripture but expands it for the benefit of all – Christian and non-Christian alike. The Ignatian Exercises address questions we all ask – they help one to “play the game of the truth of existence” and to reach both inward and then outward toward neighbor and world. The bridge I am attempting to build between faith and culture is made up of the Exercises as a grounded answer to the yearning in this unbelieving world that is, nevertheless, still haunted by belief. The feminist lens is the car that drives us over that bridge.