Penance rightly considered is not acts performed in order to attract God’s attention or get credit for oneself. It is something natural that follows sorrow. If I were you, I’d forget about penance until I felt called upon to perform it. Don’t anticipate too much. I have the feeling that you irritate your soul with a lot of things that it isn’t time to irritate it with.
What people don’t realise is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can’t believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God.
From letter to Louise Abbot [undated] Sat. 1959
Dear Mr Corn,
I certainly don't think that the death required that " ye be born again," is the death of reason. If what the Church teaches is not true, then the security and emotional release and sense of purpose it gives you are of no value and you are right to reject it. One of the effects of modern Liberal Protestantism has been gradually to turn religion into poetry and therapy, to make truth vaguer and vaguer and more and more relative, to banish intellectual distinctions, to depend on feelings instead of thought, and gradually to come to believe that God has no power, that he cannot communicate with us, cannot reveal himself to us, indeed has not done so, and that religion is our own sweet invention. This seems to be about where you find yourself now.
From letter to Alfred Corn and 16 June 1962