"Make one change at a time. Don't rush yourself. Don't compete with anyone. Don't worry about your progress. Just keep at it. Start small and build on that: fifteen minutes of silence every morning for a year, for example, before you add the next fifteen. Understand that habits are broken slowly and new ones created over time. Don't be discouraged when you lose momentum temporarily. Just start up again.

"Understand that the path of holy simplicity has a certain sweep to it. Stages must be moved through. We crawl before we walk. Keep praying for ears to hear and eyes to see. Anxiety prevents that. You'll know when it's time for the next thing. How? If you are going slowly, prayerfully, without anxiety, you'll 'hear' the call when it comes.

"Remember that others are affected by your trajectory. Don't let that stop you, but have compassion. Love them even when they make you angry. If they love you back, they'll stick around to see what happens. If they respect what they see, they might try it themselves.

"Understand that there are dark times; times of self-doubt and discouragement; stages that feel cold; demons in the night. Remember that the simple path involves stripping. We lose social identity. We lose consoling fantasies about ourselves. We give up certain comforts and conveniences. When darkness overwhelms, read Isaiah 35 and pray to rise with Christ in the morning light.

"Don't forget about the quicksand: Pride lurks. We can give up some bad habits, then fall into the worst of all: condemnation of others. Remember that love is the method and the goal. When pride catches you, go to confession, go to Mass, look for the face of Christ in the boy with the spiked hair and earrings."