Janet K. Ruffing, RSM

Professor in the Practice of Spirituality and Ministerial Leadership

CV | janet.ruffing@yale.edu Phone:203 432 7296
Denomination: Roman Catholic
Website:Personal site
Articles:Sharing the journey of spirit

Originally from California, Professor Ruffing, a Sister of Mercy, is Professor Emerita of Spirituality and Spiritual Direction at Fordham University where she directed the spiritual direction program from 1986 until her arrival at Yale Divinity School in the spring of 2010. She has published five books and numerous articles on spiritual direction and supervision, mercy spirituality, female religious life and leadership, kataphatic mysticism, prayer, and other technical topics in spirituality. She has lectured or given workshops in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, the UK, Ireland, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Korea, Hong Kong and Macau. She was a founding member of Spiritual Directors International and is past president of The Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality. She has also chaired the mysticism group in the AAR, been an associate editor for The Way, and on the Editorial Board for Presence. She has experience in teaching religion and English in secondary schools, in the formation of spiritual directors, permanent deacons, and women religious.

Read more about Professor Ruffing: Janet Ruffing: understanding the winds of the spirit in the 21st century


The Sacred Tale told in spiritual direction is never complete, always unfolding, and always susceptible to new interpretations and fresh revelations. ...More than ever most of us can benefit from the opportunity to tell our sacred tale in spiritual direction. Others write their sacred tales for the public on blogs and in autobiographies and memoirs. In our anti-modern, modern, or postmodern context, we need to read, see and hear such stories of belief and religious experience...to nourish our sense of the Holy being deeply involved with us. We need models for our own faith journeys, and yet we realize that each of us makes this journey both deeply alone and together with others in the communion of saints who have gone before us and who live among us in our faith communities.( 165-167)
To Tell the Sacred Tale: Spiritual Direction and Narrative (Paulist Press, 2011)


B.A. Russell College
M.A. University of San Francisco
S.T.L. Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley
PhD in Christian Spirituality, Graduate Theological Union. (Roman Catholic)


  1. To Tell the Sacred Tale: Spiritual Direction and Narrative (Mahwah: Paulist Press, 2011)
  2. Elisabeth Leseur: Selected Writings. Classics in Western Spirituality (Mahwah: Paulist Press, 2005)
  3. Spiritual Direction: Beyond the Beginnings (Mahwah: Paulist Press, 2000)
  4. Essays on Mysticism and Social Transformation (Editor) (Syracuse University Press, 2001)
  5. Uncovering Stories of Faith: Spiritual Direction and Narrative (Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1989)
  6. Lettres sur la souffrance: Correspondance avec soeur Marie Goby (1910-1914) (Paris: Les Editions du Cerg, 2012)


At Yale

  • Contemporary Christian Spirituality
  • Discernment of Spirits Through Selected Mystics
  • Meditation: East and West
  • St. Ignatius and the Spiritual Exercises
  • Women Mystics
  • John of the Cross: a Guide for Difficult Times

At the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education / Fordham University

  • Contemporary Christian Spirituality
  • Discernment of Spirits through Selected Mystics
  • Meditation: East and West
  • Theology and Practice of Spiritual Direction
  • Supervised Practicum in Spiritual Direction
  • Theology of the Human Person
  • History of Christian Spirituality I and II


Beginning with her dissertation on Spiritual Direction and Narrative (1986), Professor Ruffing has remained keenly interested in spiritual direction and narrative process. She has recently completed To Tell the Sacred Tale: Spiritual Direction and Narrative to be published soon by Paulist Press. This book draws on case material from her experience with directees and students for many years as well as postmodern understandings of the narrative creating self. She has recently published a historical essay in Studies in Spirituality, (2009) "The Epistolary Soul-Friendship of Elisabeth Leseur and Soeur Marie Goby." Since 2006, she has been giving workshops on Love Mysticism and Spiritual Direction and plans to develop that material into a book. Recently, she gave the Kay Butler Gill Lecture in Christian Spirituality at General Seminary in New York: "Love Mysticism: Relic or Contemporary Experience?"

Further Information

Selected Articles and Essays:
Available in PDF (full citations are on the C.V.)

Historical Essays:

Religious Life:

Spiritual Direction and Supervision:


Spiritual Life:

Other Topics: