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Paula Huston Helps Christians De-clutter for Lent

January 18, 2012

New for Lent 2012, Paula Huston, a Benedictine oblate, critically acclaimed author, and professor of creative writing, provides readers with the tools to de-clutter minds, hearts, and lives in her newest book, Simplifying the Soul, which is a Patheos Book Club selection for January 2012.

“What are you giving up for Lent this year?” It’s the expected question amongst Christian friends each spring. In Simplifying the Soul, 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,” and to acknowledge the connections between what they pray about and what they do.

Huston focuses on seven categories in need of simplification, with a number of helpful practices for each:

  • Space – give away something you are not using, clear out a junk drawer or closet
  • The use of money - avoid looking at advertisements, cut up one credit card
  • The care of the body - cover your mirrors for a whole morning, sleep on the floor for a night
  • The mind - turn off your cell phone for a day, learn how to do an examen of conscience
  • The schedule - pray the divine office, invite a lonely person in for tea and conversation
  • Relationships - sit in silence with a friend, seek out someone who is angry with you and apologize
  • Prayer - go to confession, pray for strangers you see throughout the day

In each chapter dedicated to a single week of Lent, Huston provides:

  • A short introduction to the theme of the week
  • A meditation offered for each day of the week
  • A simple practice to promote acting on the meditation
  • An encouraging passage from scripture in conclusion

With honesty, vulnerability, and grace, Huston challenges readers to move outward and act, showing them how such everyday actions can be surprisingly powerful ways of experiencing a more meaningful Lent and a simpler life. Readers experience, under Huston’s gentle and expert care, how such practices lead to a more authentic Christian faith.

About Paula Huston

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 served as a core faculty member of the California State University Consortium Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program for many years before leaving academia to write full time.

Her first non-fiction project was titled Signatures of Grace, for which she served as coeditor and contributor, and it earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Her book The Holy Way was a Catholic Press Association award-winner and Catholic Book Club major selection, earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly and a bronze medal from ForeWord Magazine for Book of the Year in Religion. Huston has also published By Way of Grace and Forgiveness: Following Jesus into Radical Loving. A Camaldolese Benedictine oblate and a member of Spiritual Directors International, Huston is married, has four grown children, and lives in central California.

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