“If people could behold in what glory a priest celebrates the Divine Office they would swoon at the sight; and if the priest could see himself, could see the celestial glory surrounding him as he officiates, he would become a great warrior and devote himself to feats of spiritual endurance, that he might not offend in any way the grace of the Holy Spirit living in him.

As I pencil these lines my spirit rejoices that our pastors are in the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. But we, the flock, though we have grace but in small measure – we, too, are in the likeness of the Lord. Men ignore this mystery but St. John the Divine told us clearly: “We shall be like him”, (1 John iii:2) and this not only after death but even here and now, for the merciful Lord has given the Holy Spirit on earth, and the Holy Spirit lives in our Church, lives in all virtuous pastors; lives in the heart of the faithful. The Holy Spirit teaches the soul to fight the good fight; gives the strength necessary to fulfill the commandments of the Lord; stablishes us in all truth; and has so adorned man that he has become like unto the Lord.

We must always bear in mind that a father-confessor performs the duties of his office in the Holy Spirit, wherefore we must venerate him. Know this, brethren, that if anyone should die with his confessor present, and, dying, say to him: ‘O holy father, give me the blessing that I may behold the Lord in the Kingdom of Heaven,’ and the confessor should answer, ‘Go, child, and look upon the Lord,’ it would be with him according to the confessor’s blessing, for the Holy Spirit both in heaven and on earth is one and the same.

Great power lies in the prayers of a spiritual father. For my pride I suffered much from devils but the Lord humbled me and had mercy on me because of my spiritual father’s prayers, and now the Lord has revealed to me that the Holy Spirit dwells in our father-confessors, wherefore I hold them in deep respect. Because of their prayers we receive the grace of the Holy Spirit, and joy in the Lord, Who loves us and has given us all things needful for our soul’s salvation.

If a man does not open his heart to his confessor, his will be a crooked path that leads not to salvation; whereas he who keeps nothing back will go straightway to the Kingdom of Heaven (…)

Whoever would pray without ceasing must have fortitude and be wise, and in all things consult his confessor. And if your father-confessor has not himself trodden the path of prayer, nevertheless seek counsel of him, and because of your humility the Lord will have mercy on you, and keep you from all wrong. But if you think to yourself, ‘My confessor lacks experience and is occupied with vain things, I will be my own guide with the help of books,’ your foot is set on a perilous path and you are not far from being beguiled and going astray. I know many such who reasoned thus and so deceived themselves, and they did not thrive because they despised their confessors. They forgot that the saving grace of the Holy Spirit is at work in the sacrament of confession. In such wise does the enemy delude those who fight the good fight – the enemy would have no men of prayer – while the Holy Spirit gives good counsel to the soul when we harken to the advice of our pastors.

Through the father-confessor the Holy Spirit operates in the sacrament (of confession), and this is why the soul, on leaving her confessor, feels renewed through peace and love for her neighbour. But if you are troubled when you leave your confessor, it means that you have not made a clean confession of your sins, and have not in your soul forgiven your brother his transgressions.

A confessor should rejoice when the Lord brings him a soul for repentance, and according to the grace given to him he should heal that soul, wherefore he will receive great mercy from God, as a good sheperd of his sheep.”

– St. Silouan the Athonite