Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spiritby Paula Huston
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Award-winning author and Benedictine oblate Paula Huston invites readers to de-clutter their minds, hearts, relationships, and souls in a book of daily Lenten practices woven from the gospels, the Desert Fathers, and the author’s own wealth of spiritual experience. “What are you giving up for Lent this year?” It’s the expected question amongst Christian friends each spring. In Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit, Huston asks her readers a deeper, alternative sort of question: “How will you rid your life of excess this Lent?” She encourages readers to see Lent as a time to seek out silence and free themselves of “stuff” and to acknowledge the connections between what they pray about and what they do. With honesty, vulnerability, and grace, Huston challenges readers to move outward and act, showing them how everyday actions like cleaning out a junk drawer, giving away something no longer used, or spending fifteen minutes in silence can be surprisingly powerful ways of experiencing a more meaningful Lent and a simpler life. Whether cutting up a credit card, visiting someone at the hospital, or forgiving someone with whom they are angry, readers experience, under Huston’s gentle and expert care, how such practices lead to a more authentic Christian faith.
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Meet the Author
Paula Huston, a National Endowment for the Arts fellow, wrote literary fiction for more than twenty years before shifting her focus to spirituality. She taught writing and literature at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and currently mentors graduate students in creative nonfiction for Seattle Pacific University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. Her first nonfiction project was Signatures of Grace, for which she served as coeditor and contributor; it earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Her book The Holy Way, which garnered another PW starred review, was a Catholic Press Association award-winner, a Catholic Book Club major selection, and a ForeWord Magazine bronze medalist for Book of the Year in Religion. Huston’s other spiritual nonfiction includes By Way of Grace, Forgiveness, Simplifying the Soul, and A Season of Mystery. A Camaldolese Benedictine Oblate, Huston is married, has four children and four grandchildren, and lives on the central California coast.
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I was a little wary about this book because Paula Huston is a well-known Catholic writer and I am a little-known Protestant librarian. And yet, somehow, I connected with Mrs. Huston's practices for Lent. I was initially gung-ho about enacting these practices; then I discovered they could be pretty demanding--in a good way. If you are looking to rid your life of spiritual "junk," have a look at this book and see if it doesn't help out.
This is a thought provoking book with unusual suggestions for devotional life during Lent. Written from a Roman Catholic point of view, some suggestions do not quite fit for this Protestant. Some suggestions are quite demanding.
If you are looking for Lenten activities to try that are different this is definitely a book to explore. It has a story (meditation) and suggestion for action (practice) for every day of the week except Sunday throughout Lent. Each week deals with a different topic - money,your body, your mind, schedule, relationships, and prayer. Most of the practices are do-able for the average person and the meditations are interesting and tend to help you be reflective. This will definitely help to renew your spirit and get ready for Holy Week and Easter.