Over the years, I have often wished there were more relevant, life-sustaining, inspirational, and meaningful rituals for Christians to use in a variety of situations. This book by writer and retreat leader Joyce Rupp arrives like a Godsend. With her keen sense of the indwelling presence of God, the author is truly a gifted spiritual midwife. These soulful poems, prayers, and reflections for group or individual use are designed "to revitalize the spiritual blood pulsating through the veins of faith."

I love the Advent ritual for sending hope to the four corners of the earth. There are several treasures in a section devoted to All Saint's Day. Check out Rupp's guided visualization for "The Blessing of the Saints." The author obviously savors the spiritual value of birthdays, offering this blessing: "May you hear the marvelous music / singing in your soul every moment, / lauding the exquisite gift of being alive."

Rupp presents two especially touching prayers and rituals for caregivers: "Blessing Before Surgery" and "Blessing of One Who Draws Near to Death." She is equally cogent in two justice rituals and a very poignant Lenten piece titled "Carrying the Cross." My wife and I have tried "Blessing of the Body" and can recommend it highly to you.

Out of the Ordinary is an incomparable resource for spiritual directors and lay leaders of all stripes. Best of all, Joyce Rupp has given readers permission to reprint any of these 125 resources for personal and liturgical use without requesting permission from Ave Maria Press as long as proper credit is included on all the copies.

Try a Spiritual Practice on Being Present