Review by Sally Cunneen...
The American Catholic, March 2000

Prayers To Sophia. A Companion to "The Star in My Heart" by Joyce Rupp lnnisfree Press, $12.95, 126 pp

The Star in My Heart: Experiencing Sophia, Inner Wisdom by Joyce Rupp lnnisfree Press, $12.95, 122 pp

Prayers to Sophia book cover

Cover Art by
Doris Klein, CSA

     Her new book, Prayers to Sophia, repeats the stunning cover art - by Doris Klein, CSA - of The Star in My Heart. What has changed in the intervening decade is the confidence Rupp places in the figure who has now become a permanent, inspiring presence in her life. She no longer worries, as she did before, what others think. Neither does she "explain" Sophia or these prayers, most of which she has taken from her journals. She speaks with authority out of her experience, hoping the book will be a support and enhancement of the spirituality of those who are comfortable and at ease with the Divine Feminine. "I am not out to convince anyone about Sophia," says Rupp. "I leave whatever needs to be revealed about Divine Wisdom in her hands."

A Nurturing God...
Book Review Continued

      At first I was not comfortable reading these prayers to Sophia, though I often think of the divine as feminine. It is difficult to shift the imaginative furniture of imagination. Move over Holy Spirit, I thought; you too, Guardian Angel, and maybe even you, Mary, who have so often stood in for the divine feminine. But Rupp's non-argumentative presentation is winning, and soon I could respond to her "Holy Midwife", her "source of nurturance." A useful stretching exercise for me, it may provide a longed-for image for many others which will make conversation with God easier.

      The words of Rupp's prayers are not pretentious, but sturdy and colloquial. The images are simple: A gate, a mantle, the seashore, and they relate to the ordinary feelings and situations so many of us share and might never think to introduce into a talk with God the Father. For example, addressing Sophia as "Companion of Life, Guardian of Death," she confesses that "more and more I resemble an old gnarled tree, wrinkled bark, gray boughs, thinning leaves." She asks Sophia to teach her to "befriend the wrinkles and accept the grayness."

   In Lighten Up she hears Sophia tell her to lower her expectations, not be so demanding of herself. "When did I develop the notion that I could do it all?" Slowly she becomes grateful for the insistent voice "nudging me toward the laughter of letting go and the chuckle of neglect." But the "Divine Challenger" also reminds her that she takes the easy, familiar path all too often and urges her to take risks. "When did I give in to fear and bow to security?" Rupp wonders. And finally she asks Sophia to urge her to abandon her "stronghold," to see that she can still "leap beyond the barriers.

      Rupp is recording her own prayers; most were not 'composed' for the book but spring directly from her journals. In publishing this book she is giving the rest of us permission to use the daily events of our lives - no matter how small or unpleasant - as proper material for prayer. In doing so she echoes spiritual advice that has persevered over the ages. The Imitation of Christ, for example, tells us that, "If your heart is right, then every creature is a mirror of life to you and a book of holy learning, for there is no creature - no matter how tiny or how lowly - that does not reveal God's goodness." Encouraging us in new words and images, Joyce Rupp shows us how to make our hearts right by finding and nurturing the stars within them.

-Sally Cunneen, The American Catholic, March 2000


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