Joyce Rupp | REVIEW: Prayer Seeds
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REVIEW: Prayer Seeds

Prayer Seeds

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February 2018—Reviewed by Kathy Berken in The Catholic Messenger

When I’d get off track, my mother used to say, “I’ve got a bone to pick with you.”

In the Sept. 14, 2017, issue of this paper, CNS reporter Rachelle Linner wrote a brief review of Sister Joyce Rupp’s 2017 book, “Prayer Seeds,” which I am here to challenge.

Linner’s review, rightly her own opinion, left me feeling frustrated and upset because she based it on a strictly traditional Catholic view of prayer and spirituality and dismissed it for not living up to those standards.

I’ll credit Linner for accurately describing Prayer Seeds’ general purposes (prayer groups, communal retreats or gatherings, individual meditation) and its general content (guided reflections, poetry, prose, prayers for liturgical seasons and feasts, and critical moments in our lives). But she quickly rejected the book as “disappointing,” that it showed “no hint” of what tradition teaches, that prayer must point to God, and she — I think, incorrectly — contends that Prayer Seeds “points to ourselves instead.”

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December 2017—U.S. Catholic Book Club Review

The U.S. Catholic Book Club has chosen Prayer Seeds as their selection for the month of December. U.S. Catholic magazine’s associate editor, Sarah Butler comments: “Rupp writes, Silence the useless anxiety and confusion. / Calm the pressure placed upon us. / Hush the illusory need to get it all done.” It’s a welcome challenge this Christmas season.”

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November 14, 2017—Reviewed by Trisha Niermeyer Potter on Prints of Grace

I have yet to come across a book by Joyce Rupp that I didn’t enjoy and find spiritually nourishing. Prayer Seeds: A Gathering of Blessings, Reflections, and Poems for Spiritual Growth is more of the same great writing that leads to meaningful contemplation that I have come to expect from one of my favorite authors. As someone who writes prose, poetry, and prayers, I appreciate the depth of her insights crafted into poignant words others can easily use in their own intercessions, Scripture studies, and retreats.

In the introduction, Joyce Rupp explains that “[e]ach resource in this book is a type of spiritual seed. The selections hold the possibility of yielding a harvest of personal reflection and communal prayer. Some are in the germination stage and will require watering from additional ideas and resources in order to fully activate the potential they hold. Others are partially grown and will only need minor tending. A handful…are fully grown and ready for use, supplying all that is needed for harvesting a prayerful experience.” (p. IX)

Tasked with leading the first prayer time of a women’s retreat this fall, I grabbed Prayer Seeds certain I would find the perfect jumping off point for our weekend. I decided upon a meditation that is best when read slowly to a group who has their eyes closed and can contemplate the words and people who come to mind. All Saints and All Souls’ days were leading up to our weekend away, so “A Blessing of the Saints” fit perfectly.

Everything in the book is organized by season, topic, and/or life event, so you can quickly find a short piece to share that is perfect for reflection as an individual or as a group. There are blessings for a variety of occasions, including: bringing in the harvest, entering a fresh day of life, spring equinox rejoicing, moving to a nursing home, as well as the closing of a casket.

The image of a seed appeals to me for many reasons, not the least of which, it holds so much life and potential inside such a small space. Prayer can be equally as powerful and fruitful.

I pray that this book and the reflection it leads to will help you as you are harvesting God’s abundance.

Read the review on Prints of Grace.