Joyce Rupp | REVIEW: Boundless Compassion
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REVIEW: Boundless Compassion

Boundless Compassion

Boundless Compassion

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May 2018—Reviewed by June Mears Driedger on Englewood Review of Books

Soon after a close friend’s death, Joyce Rupp had a life-changing experience which she describes in her new book, Boundless Compassion: Creating a Way of Life (Sorin Books). As she stood at her patio door:

I was trying to absorb this enormous loss when a hummingbird fluttered in front of my face, just a few inches outside the glass. It hovered there, facing me for several minutes, enough time to convince me that my friend—who treasured those little creatures—was assuring me all would be well. As the tiny bird departed, an inner knowing swept through my being: ‘Love is all that counts.’ Since that moment I have never been the same. (2-3)

Rupp attributes this “showing” by her friend as a compassionate presence, convinced that the message was for her. “I turned from the patio door determined to give the rest of my life to living in such a way that compassion would be the most essential focus.” (2-3)

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April 2018—Book Review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat on Spirituality and Practice

A masterwork brimming over with insights, practices, exercises, and illustrative materials on compassion as a spiritual way of life.

Joyce Rupp is a master spiritual teacher of the Christian way whose 14 previous Ave Maria books have sold more than a million copies. A member of the Servite (Servants of Mary) community, she has characterized her ministry as that of being a “spiritual midwife.” Rupp is revered as an inspiring retreat leader and conference speaker.

Boundless Compassion presents a six-week Christian guide to this spiritual virtue and practice. Rupp outlines how to use the book for individual study, group study, and with “Circles of Compassion.” The program itself, like some of her other books (including two of our all-time favorites, The Cup of Your Life and Open the Door) includes daily material, organized around a weekly theme, with an essay, a reflection, a prayer, and a scripture to carry in your heart during the day. Each week’s material includes examples of how to enter into situations that contain travail and difficulty. Rupp explains: “This requires being in touch with how we think, feel, and respond to the suffering residing in ourselves and others, and how we interact with the extensive differences that trouble our world.”

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March 2018—NetGalley Review by Debbie Kerch, Reviewer

Rating – 5 out of 5 Stars

Boundless Compassion by Joyce Rupp is nothing short of phenomenal. It is a book that speaks to our heart about the human condition. If you think you are short on compassion for your fellow man you need to read this book. If you think you are a compassionate person, you need to read this book. Joyce Rupp not only speaks to us about the necessity for compassion for our fellow man, ourselves and the world at large but explains in detail those things that may keep us from having a compassionate heart. Every session shares some significant insight that speaks to the core of what makes us human and the impact we can make in one another’s life, if only empathy, understanding and tenderness can replace judgment, indifference and apathy. 

The beauty of this book is its simplicity. It is a six-week journey in which the author takes 20 minutes or so of your day to talk with you about the benefit of compassion for ourselves and our fellow human beings.

Boundless Compassion can be used for group study or individual study. The words of this book enter your heart and allow you to contemplate where your heart stands in relation to others. It helps you become aware of your attitude to those who are suffering physically, spiritually or emotionally and what we can do to alleviate or soften the suffering or burdens of others. Each week addresses a new topic in regards to compassion, what we can do to change our lives and the lives of others and how to be the softness in a world that can be hard and dark. Joyce Rupp provides a daily reading and finishes with a reflection and a short prayer that helps you digest what you have read and encourages you to put into practice what you have learned and contemplated. You cannot read this book without examining your own heart and where it stands on helping those who are suffering. 

I loved the honesty of this book when it came to dealing with others and even ourselves. There was not one reading in this book that didn’t speak to me in some way. It caused me to examine my attitudes and action in regards to others in my life both past and present. If I am being honest and you are being honest we have to admit we all know someone who has suffered or is suffering in some way right now. It begs the question “Is there anything we can do?” It doesn’t necessarily mean we are to control the situation or become an enabler to the suffering party, we just have to empathize with their situation and be a listening ear or the caring hands that help. Taking time our of our day to listen, to pray, provide a meal or be the strength for someone who has nothing left to give can be ways that help alleviate emotional or physical burdens for another. As St. Therese the Little Flower once explained it can be doing the littlest thing with the greatest of love. 

Boundless Compassion is a book everyone should read. What a wonderful world we would live in if we could live by the principles in this book. Caring for another and wanting to ease their suffering is not just a physical act, it’s an emotional act, one that starts in the heart and moves outward towards the one who is suffering. It lets them know they are not alone in their pain. So often we start the year with self improvement books, well I say let’s start here with Boundless Compassion. Let’s read something that will make a difference not only in our lives, but in the lives of others. It all starts with the man or woman in the mirror.