To Leon the Hegumen: On the
Fathers of the Skete and words on discernment that are
filled with many benefits.
(Saint)Herman had said:
"The fact that it is usually a pretense for
our shame and the cause for harmful piety, that certain Fathers had
often confessed brethren of ours and not only did not benefit them,
but even accused them and led them into despair, as in the case that
we too had witnessed with our own eyes in Syria:
A brother had confessed to one of those Elders there; with every
simplicity and honesty he boldly bared the innermost depths of
his heart. He had barely completed his confession and the Elder
became very indignant and angry with that brother, berating him for
his ugly thoughts. This incident became known, and many people
thereafter were too ashamed to confess to Elders."
Abba Moses had said:
“As I also mentioned earlier, it is
good for us to reveal our thoughts to Fathers, but not to just
any one of them, at random. We should confess to spiritual Elders who have
the gift of discernment and not to those who have simply turned
white with age; because many brethren who had focused on age only
became deluded, and when they confessed, instead of finding their
health they reached the point of despair on account of the Elder's lack of experience."