"To repent is not to take on afflictive penances like fasting, vigils, flagellation, or whatever else appeals to our generosity. It means to change the direction in which you are looking for happiness. That challenge goes to the root of the problem. It is not a bandage for one or another of the emotional problems.

"If we say yes to the invitation to repent, we may experience enormous freedom for a few months or for even a year or two. Our former way of life, in some degree, is cleaned up and certain relationships healed. Then, after a year or two, the dust stirred up by our first conversion settles and the old temptations recur. As the springtime of the spiritual journey turns to summer — and fall and winter — the original enthusiasms begin to wane. At some point, we have to face the fundamental problem, which is the unconscious motivation that is still in place, even after we have chosen the values of the gospel.

"The false self is the syndrome of our emotional programs for happiness grown into sources of motivation and made much more complex by the socialization process, and reinforced by our over-identification with our cultural conditioning. Our ordinary thoughts, reactions, and feelings manifest the false self on every level of our conduct. When the false self learns that we have been converted and will now start practicing all the virtues, it has the biggest laugh of a lifetime and dares us, saying, 'Just try it!'

"Now we experience the full force of the spiritual combat, the struggle with what want to do and feel we should do, and our incredible inability to carry it out. . . . Such insight is the real beginning of the spiritual journey.”