“Jesus, Guide of My Life.” By Joyce Rupp. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2023. 128 pages.  Paperback: $13.95; Kindle: $10.49; E-book: $10.49.

In her latest book, “Jesus, Guide of My Life,” author and retreat leader Joyce Rupp invites the reader into a series of meditations for the season of Lent. For her, there is no greater source of comfort, insight, and sound advice to achieve fullness of life than the words of Jesus Himself, and that is what this book is based around.

Looking to Jesus for all that we need is nothing new to Rupp; two of her previous books also focus on the centrality of Jesus and His teachings. As she says in the introduction to this volume, “When I pause to consider what guides the flow of my life, the teachings of Jesus in the Christian gospels are center stage,” she begins. “These transformative messages continue to provide counsel and direction for how I am to live. I cannot imagine a spiritual journey without its being based on these foundational principles.”

The book is organized by week, beginning with Ash Wednesday and culminating with Easter Sunday. As each day of each week progresses, Rupp asks us to meditate on the ways that Jesus is leading us to be more fully who we truly are. She includes a list of habits of being that Jesus taught and that we are invited to participate in, with the goal to “keep growing, (continuing) to embrace the directives at the heart of the gospel.” These include things such as “Forgiving those who stumble and fall off the path, encouraging the effort to go an extra mile for others, extending compassion for sorrows, defeats and struggles, cautioning to stay alert and appreciate life to the utmost, and inviting to accept with faith what is not fully perceived.”

The meditations themselves are short, but the messages they contain are meant to not only carry the reader through the day, but culminate in a Lent well observed. Because this book unfolds like a personal conversation between friends, Rupp addresses Jesus in many different ways – “Center of my life, Discerning Spirit, Source of Abundance, Strength of my Faith, Neighbor to One and All, and Guardian of my Soul” among others.

Each daily scripture passage is followed by a brief story from Rupp’s own life which illustrates how Jesus’ own words contain a response to the situation. For instance, when the day’s reading is the story of the centurion’s servant, Rupp notes how unhesitatingly Jesus responded to the man’s need. Of herself she says, “It is not uncommon for me to silently balk when I am interrupted by a spoken or unspoken request from someone, especially when I know it may well involve considerable time, energy and emotional drain.” Sound familiar? It certainly did to me, so when Rupp turns to Jesus’ example, as one might listen to a dear friend, she says in the closing prayer, “Compassionate Responder, may my spirit be imbued with your readiness.”  She then concludes that day’s meditation with a corresponding response: “(Today) I say yes to someone’s spoken or unspoken need for assistance.”

Although this book is certainly appropriate for individual meditation, Rupp has included some things in the last few pages which could easily extend the reach of her thoughts to sharing what she has written with a group. There is a prayer for guidance – interestingly, printed in a font which looks like handwriting, again emphasizing the conversational tone of the book – which is meant to be prayed before embarking on each day’s reflection. It can also serve to focus a prayer group before discussing each participant’s reactions to the meditations for that week.

The questions – there are eight of them – provide an opportunity to connect again with the experiences of the previous week.  This book, which is small enough for the reader to carry along during the day, is a nice addition to any other Lenten meditation one may choose to use.

Author bio:

Joyce Rupp is well known for her work as a writer and retreat leader and serves as a consultant for the Boundless Compassion program. She is the author of numerous bestselling books, including “Praying Our Goodbyes,” “Open the Door,” “Return to the Root,” “Jesus, Friend of My Soul,” and “Jesus, Companion in My Suffering.” Her award-winning books include “Fly While You Still Have Wings.” She is a member of the Servite (Servants of Mary) community.