Book Review: “Fragments of Your Ancient Name”

Fragments of Your Ancient Name: 365 Glimpses of the Divine for Daily Meditation
by Joyce Rupp
Notre Dame: Sorin Books, 2011

Litanies, or the repeating of various names of Jesus or Mary, as a form of prayer has a long tradition in the Catholic Church. In “Fragments of Your Ancient Name,” Joyce Rupp explores 365 names for God – one for each day of the year. We can never fully name God – He is a reality beyond our understanding. “The names that humans provide to portray this sacred essence contain only a hint of the one who stirs within the heart and life of each created being. . . [yet] each glimpse allows us a step further on the bridge uniting us with this eternal goodness.”

Rupp reaches both within and outside of her own Judeo-Christian background for the source of these names. As she states, “I learned not to be afraid that the names used by other religions might take away from my own relationship with God. . .If we can open our minds and hearts, we may well find that the varied attributes of divinity expand our vision of who ‘God’ is and draw us deeper into relationship with the Holy One.” Therefore, within these pages one will find familiar names such as “Father” and “Abba” and “Blessed Trinity” along with unfamiliar titles such as “Shakti” and “The Clement.” There are also many less traditional names for God. For example, “Mother of the Weary,” “Deep Well,” and “Tear-Wiper” are all included.

Each day features a name for God, the source of that name, a reflection, and a task for the day relating to the given aspect of God. This book need not be used in chronological order, however. One could simply open the book and find a page that speaks to the reader at that moment. No doubt some will become favorites and be referred to again and again.

“Fragments of Your Ancient Name” will challenge readers to expand how they think about, and name, God. It is a wonderful source of inspiration.


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