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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 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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