Thursday, September 2, 2010

Using a Spiritual Guide

When you find a spiritual guide you still retain the responsibility to use your free will and your faith to assist the work of your guide. The efforts of a true spiritual guide are not based on His own opinions, but insights he gains through prayer.  All spiritual advice must come from God alone.  The Guide helps us gain this godly advice when we may not be able to discern for ourselves the will of God.  We must pray that our guide will be given the ability to communicate the words that God intends for us.

Elder Macarius of Optina put is this way,
You say I helped your aunt. That cannot be.  Only the mistakes are mine.  All good advice is the advice of God; His advice, that I happen to have heard rightly and to have passed on without distorting it...  I shall try to answer you as best I can, but you must pray.  Pray that God may grant me the ability to say the right words which will bring you help.  
We also need to have faith.  We must have the firm conviction that all wisdom comes from God.  It is not the wisdom of the person (guide) we seek.  We seek his assistance in correctly seeing God's will for us.

The Elder says,
Pray too, that He may grant you the right faith: faith in our Lord as the lord of all wisdom. No good can come of this letter without His special help.
We all need a spiritual guide.  Seek one and he will be shown to you.  Pray for him to intercede on your behalf and follow what he says. When you cannot follow your guide, you no longer have one and must seek another. A guide will help you avoid egoistic tendencies that so often crop up to block our spiritual progress.

Reference: Russian Letters of Spiritual Direction, p 26

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