The discernment and experience of the confessor

`Father, in our times, when there is so much sin in the world, the position of the confessor isn`t it difficult sometimes?`

`Yes, it is difficult. That is why it is good when the confessor tries to correct first the big sins to cause the cleaning of the thick slag of the sin from God`s creatures so that they may become more inclined to correct themselves. He should behave with lenience but in the same time he should advice the man in such a way that he may become aware of his mistakes and ask for forgiveness from God.

It is absolutely necessary to emphasize for the person who makes the confession the fact that it is necessary to repent, to change his life in order to receive mercy from God.

It also helps a great deal to speak to the people with love about God`s great love so that they may begin to have magnanimity and feel their mistakes and change their habits.

A young confessor until he gains experience it is better to help in the easier cases. It may be possible for example that a tormented soul impede his spiritual development by his sabotages and make him waste all time. If he doesn`t take heed because of his good intention he will always give importance to the scenes such a soul will make to him, he will waste without purpose his powers and he will suffer. When he gains experience he will know when to give importance and when to behave with indifference. I look over the letters they send me and if there is something serious I give attention to that case. Many times there is the work of the tempter. One tells you: `I want to tell you something here at the gate for two minutes` and he keeps you for an hour. To be wet of sweat, to be hit by air blows, to shake and he tells you stories as if nothing happens.

Is this from God ? Then you get sick, you can`t make the prayer anymore for the world or for yourself and you are not good of anything for many days. After that there comes the man who really needs help and you can`t help him anymore.

In what regards those who have a serious problem it is not enough only to listen to them and see they have a problem and tell them : `Take an aspirin !` Some say : `I keep you for one minute only for the bus is leaving !` And they tell you a serious problem.

As if someone having cancer tells the doctor: `Make me a surgical operation as the plane is leaving shortly.`

Any sickness needs the necessary time to see from where it starts what symptoms it has etc In a serious matter you can`t give temporary solutions. During a litany which was made in the Holy Mountain during the Easter week a novice approached me exactly when I started to climb up and he wanted to speak to him about the prayer of the mind. He had come for so many times to the hut and never asked about that subject and there during the climbing he had the idea to ask about such a delicate subject! A delicate and fine subject can`t be discussed standing or climbing…

Excerpt from Spiritual struggle – Pious Paisios the Athonite,  Evanghelismos.

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