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Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit (Ave Maria Press) Paperback – December 19, 2011


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Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit (Ave Maria Press) + A Season of Mystery: 10 Spiritual Practices for Embracing a Happier Second Half of Life + The Holy Way: Practices for a Simple Life
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Ave Maria Press (December 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594712697
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594712692
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #597,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

More About the Author

(Author Photograph by Dennis Eamon Young). Paula Huston, the eldest of five children, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1952. Her Norwegian Lutheran family moved to California when she was only two; she 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 divorced and spent several years as a single working mother, which convinced her that she really needed to complete her college education. After remarrying and becoming a stepmother of two, she returned to school for a B.A. in English, and went on for a Masters in English and American Literature while continuing to write and publish fiction.

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 helped spur a return to the Christianity she had abandoned years before. This time, however, she came back to the church as a Catholic, and in the process, shifted to writing spiritual non-fiction. Eventually, she became a Camaldolese Benedictine oblate, a lay associate of a contemplative Catholic hermitage on the Big Sur coast, which means she does her best to live by two ancient rules written primarily for monks and hermits: the Rule of St. Benedict and the Brief Rule of St. Romuald of Ravenna, Italian founder of the Camaldolese. 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 six young grandchildren

Huston is the author of six books and a co-editor and contributing essayist for a seventh, SIGNATURES OF GRACE: CATHOLIC WRITERS ON THE SACRAMENTS. Her essays and short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals and magazines over the years, including AMERICAN SHORT FICTION, STORY, NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, IMAGE, AMERICA, THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY, and GEEZ. She is a National Endowment of the Arts Fellow in Creative Writing, and a founder and faculty member for a low-residency California State University Consortium Master of Fine Arts program. Her work has been honored by BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES and included in the annual BEST SPIRITUAL WRITING anthology. She has taught at the Glen Workshop and in the Glen Online writing school, and is currently teaching in Seattle Pacific University's MFA in creative writing program.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Then I decided I could read the first couple of sections.
Sarah Reinhard
Simplifying the Soul provides wonderful (as the subtitle says) "Lenten practices to renew your soul."
J. Brent Bill
Maybe more than anything, I had to learn what makes a good story.
Peter Menkin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Brent Bill on 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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Reinhard VINE VOICE on 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Phillips on March 21, 2012
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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Faithy on March 23, 2012
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 4 people found the following review helpful By rockyd on March 22, 2012
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rosellyn on February 27, 2012
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This new book, Simplifying the Soul, has some unique suggestions for daily Lenten practice. They are things that one might like to do but seldom takes the time to do it. For the first day of Lent, cleaning out a junk drawer seemed like an appropriate way to begin this liturgical season. The quotes and reflections for each day are also apropos. I like this book and am glad I purchased it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sally W on September 6, 2012
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I was introduced to this book when attending a silent retreat, I love reading but devoured this book within a four hour time frame and made notes as I went. It has inspired me not only in preperation for Easter but as a guide for a more reflective practice for my christian journey in general. I purchased a copy for a dear friend of mine and her and her daughter are going to join with me and go through the steps written about by Paula as we prepare for Easter in 2013. A great read and an easy read. Love it!Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit (Ave Maria Press)
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Peter Menkin on 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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