The spiritual adviser is the person who has grace from God, I repeat this to become an acknowledged fact, because we notice an idolatry of the person and sectarian manifestations against the church of some of our Christians.
We also confound the monachal ethos with the secular one, thing which is a challenge in relation with the eighth sacrament, the monarchism, according to saint Gregory the Theologian.
We confound the notion of disciple with that of spiritual son and that of spiritual paternity with the holy confession.
The starets is the spiritual father of the monks. The monks have a starets. A starets from a monastery can be the spiritual father and the confessor of the laymen who visit the monastery in this purpose or he will always be the spiritual adviser or confessor or both, but not their starets. We show obedience towards the starets as monks and we show confidence as laymen. The laymen have as a primate a spiritual adviser not a starets and this one is not starets for the monks or abbot.
Spiritual adviser is the man who has the grace from God to give advice in what regards the life in Christ. To him we confess our spiritual problems and dilemmas to advice and guide us.
Spiritual adviser may be even a simple monk who is not a priest or he may be even a layman. This happens but it is not impossible. `The wind blows where it pleases.` Elder Paisios, who was not priest or confessor, was a spiritual adviser.
Confessor is that priest who is married or bachelor and has a special blessing from the Diocesan bishop to perform the sacrament of confession. We go to the confessor to confess our sins after we repent and make the commitment not to sin anymore and he reads for us the prayer of absolution and sometimes if it is necessary he gives us advice and cannon. The absolution of sins it is received by our repentance and by the prayer of absolution read by the priest and not by the epitimions and canons given by the confessor which are some pedagogical means used by the confessor.
Ideally is if our spiritual adviser is also confessor and if our confessor is our spiritual adviser but not necessarily. Confessor and adviser was for example elder Porphyrios. We have an adviser and many confessors.
The adviser will recommend us to make a confession, the confessor will listen to our confession and the confessor who is adviser in the same time will do both.
priest Pantelimon Krouskos