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Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit [Kindle Edition]

Paula Huston
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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, Paula Huston asks her readers a deeper, alternative sort of question: "How will you rid your life of excess this Lent?" Huston encourages readers to see Lent as a time to seek out silence and free themselves of "stuff"; to de-clutter minds, hearts, and lives; 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.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"Too often thought of as simply a season of sacrifice, Lent is revealed here as something far richer--a privileged time to experience God in your everyday life, to open yourself to conversion, and to savor God's transforming love."--Rev. James Martin, S.J., Author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything


"This is the most moving, most appealing, and, at the same time, most practical book I have ever seen on Lenten practices."--Phyllis Tickle, Author of The Great Emergence


"Huston offers herself as a lively companion in a Lenten practice stripped of cliches. Join her--it might be the simplest and liveliest Lent you have ever kept."--Eugene Peterson, Author of Pastor: A Memoir


"When I read Huston's words I am galvanized and motivated toward greater simplicity." --Luci Shaw, Author of Water My Soul

About the Author

Paula Huston wrote literary fiction for twenty years before shifting her focus to spirituality. Since then, she has published the critically acclaimed Signatures of Grace, The Holy Way, By Way of Grace, and Forgiveness. A Camaldolese Benedictine oblate, Huston is married, has four grown children, and lives in central California.

Product Details

  • File Size: 265 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Ave Maria Press (December 19, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0078IFDYA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,508 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for your Lenten journey! February 15, 2012
Format:Paperback
I sat down to read Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit, by Paula Huston, with the intention of just reading the first section. Then I decided I could read the first couple of sections.

And then I read the whole book.

In my defense, I had a whole evening before me and I needed to get the review written for the Patheos Book Club. What I found with this book, though, was much different than what I expected.

I don't know what, exactly, I expected, but I'm sure it had to do with preaching and a feeling of insignificance at the end. I was excited at the premise and what the book jacket promised, but maybe a little sure that I would not be able to approach Lent using this book as an actual resource.

"It will be good for someone, though," I thought, "and I can surely read it and see what I have to look forward to."

(Negative much?)

I was gloriously, wonderfully WRONG. I found myself reading, shaking my head, and looking forward to Lent, when I can dig in.

Will I fail? Yeah, probably. I do every year. In the failure is the kernel I need from Lent, I think, and success isn't usually about what I plan, but about what graces I allow God to work.

Each day of Lent has a task, with a reflection by the author from her own experience, and then an brief description of the task or practice for the day.

Throughout the book, you get to know Paula Huston as your guide, someone walking beside you and encouraging you, even as she doesn't settle for less than what you can at least try to do. She's gentle, but tough. She weaves humor in with what I can only call teaching: she makes the Desert Fathers and Mothers an accessible crew, even for a busy mom in the Midwest.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Helpful Huston Book! February 11, 2012
Format:Paperback
Paula Huston is one of premier spiritual writers today (disclaimer (sort of): Paula is a friend of mine). She writes clearly and well about the deepest parts of the human experience -- our spiritual life. Simplifying the Soul provides wonderful (as the subtitle says) "Lenten practices to renew your soul."

Now, as a Quaker (a sect that eschews Advent, Lent -- where every day is both ordinary time and extra-ordinary time), I am not normally drawn to materials that are liturgical seasonally based. But, since Paula wrote this, I knew I wanted to read it and would find it helpful. And I did. And I'll return to it again and again -- in Lent and other times.

Lent is quickly approaching. So if you're a liturgical type, pick it up soon. And if you're un-liturgical (like me) get it anyhow!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply wonderful book! March 21, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you ever want to spend six weeks to refocus your walk with God this is a wonderful devotional tool to use. I am in the process of using right now and in my 56 years of life I can honestly say this is the best Lenten season I have ever experienced. It is good food for the body, soul and spirit. I highly recommend this book to all followers of Christ, no matter their church affliation.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow Great Ideas and Easy to Follow March 22, 2012
By rockyd
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love this book and it is quite helpful in an overwhelming fast paced world. It explains how to slow down and allow God to be first and foremost in your life. A wonderful book to use not only in Lent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Faithy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
simplifying THE SOUL is just what the title says. It introduced me to some simple Lenten practices that made a lot of sense. I enjoyed Paula Huston's reflections, meditations and simple suggestions for practice. I am planning on continuing to practice her suggestions throughout the year to help become a better person and Christian.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for Lent... February 15, 2012
Format:Paperback
In the useful book on Lenten practice, where quiet and silence, even meditation is recommended and outlined as practice for the Season, author of "simplifying THE SOUL: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit." Paula Huston, again gives readers an excellent opportunity for the bettering and continuing their work of Church life.
Another in a series of well-done books, which include, "By Way of Grace," and Following Jesus into Radical Loving," as another in her few number of books in the religious realm, one of the works received a starred review from "Publishers Weekly." That was the one she authored titled "The Holy Way," which is recommended for reading, too, by this Religion Writer.
Published by Ava Maria Press in Notre Dame, Indiana, my review copy arrived in time for the 2012 year, and a pretty paperback for Lent/Spirituality it is-- besides the readable and attractive type and design, it is a good size for carrying around. City people can even bring it with them on a bus or transit of any kind, if you don't mind others seeing you are reading something religious. Should those others even notice, let alone care--though someone might get curious. It is good enough for curiosity, too; for looking through it at a bookstore, online, or even when catching someone at an involved reading of the work, the curious will find gems of practice and observance like:
Today, consciously avoid looking at or listening to any advertising, whether it is on the Internet, in magazines, on the radio, or on TV. The easiest way to do this is to keep all these devices turned off, but if you have to use one of them, pray first for the ability to recognize, then avoid, any ads that pop up. Pray also for insight into your own susceptibility to constant advertising.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple appoach to de-clutter soul and life
Approach includes prayers and doing something to make life simpler. Helps to reflect on what is important. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dianne Cutshaw
5.0 out of 5 stars great spiritual exercise for Lent
Simply written, but such spiritual depth- takes you through a great purging of habits, thought patterns, and indulgences that keep you from experiencing God's presence.
Published 11 months ago by Joel Peters
5.0 out of 5 stars Excelent
I found this book to be extremely helpful in understanding the significance of Lent in our lives. Would highly recommend it.
Published 11 months ago by Linda Reisz
5.0 out of 5 stars A helpful study for Lent
This is a study for Lent, with practical daily disciplines. If you are looking for rigorous application of self-analysis, it's ideal, but it is also helpful as a daily reminder. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Elizabeth A. Hendricks
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Lenten Journey book
Paula Huston gives a day by day journey through Lent and makes it relevant with things that you can do each day to actually experience the inward, selfless journey. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Bookwoman
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical, wise, endearing
I loved Simplifying the soul by Paula Houston! It was very inspiring in that not only did it give great insights into the spiritual life of prayer and the practice of prayer, but... Read more
Published 24 months ago by D. Minton
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll Buy Several Next Year
For my family and friends. It's that good. If you're Catholic and especially if you're not, this actually God-centered devotional with realistic daily applications is essential. Read more
Published on March 26, 2013 by Sandra Tucker
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book of spiritual practices
A magnificent book, not only for Lent, but I intend to read it year round and continue the amazing suggestions and spiritual practices.
Published on March 24, 2013 by Carol Halter
2.0 out of 5 stars Over the top.
I couldn't avoid the constant feeling that I could only acheive the stated purpose of the book through conversion to the catholic faith.
Published on March 21, 2013 by Bappleseed
5.0 out of 5 stars Lent
I am really enjoying this book. It is written in a manner that I can readily understand. It gives me little daily practices, prayers and thoughts. Read more
Published on March 11, 2013 by Maureen Sweeney
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More About the Author

(Author Photograph by Dennis Eamon Young). Paula Huston grew up in Long Beach, married at nineteen, and relocated to San Luis Obispo county on the Central Coast in her early twenties. About the time her two children were born, she began writing short stories; in her early thirties, she became a single mom, working two part-time jobs while continuing to write and publish short fiction. After remarrying and becoming a stepmother of two, she returned to school for a B.A. in English, then went on for a Masters in English and American Literature.

She began teaching at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo after completing the Master's degree. While still matriculating, she took a class in ethics that spurred a return to Christianity and a shift to writing spiritual non-fiction. Along the way, she became a Camaldolese Benedictine oblate, a lay associate of a contemplative Catholic hermitage on the Big Sur coast. For many years, she and her husband Mike have lived on four acres in the country where, in the spirit of St. Benedict, they produce much of the food they eat, including fruits, vegetables, olive oil, eggs, honey, and wine. They have seven young grandchildren

Huston is the author of two novels and five books of spiritual nonfiction, plus co-editor and contributing essayist for another. Her essays and short stories have been honored by BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES and included in the annual BEST SPIRITUAL WRITING anthology. She is a National Endowment of the Arts Fellow in Creative Writing, a member of the Chrysostom Society, and a founder and faculty member for a low-residency California State University Consortium Master of Fine Arts program. She currently mentors MFA students in creative nonfiction for Seattle Pacific University.

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