The Elder Reveals Concealed Sins

Episode from the life of Saint Barsanuphius of Optina.

Saint Barsanuphius of Optina

Here are the astounding memoirs about confession to the elder left by his spiritual daughter:
- We reached the skete, the Devil in every way distracted me and suggested to leave, but having crossed myself, I firmly entered the hut ... I made a sign of the cross before the icon of the Queen of Heaven and froze.
The Father entered, I was standing in the middle of his cell ... The Father came up to the Tikhvin icon of God’s Mother and sat ...
- Come closer.
I timidly approached him.
- Kneel down, my child ... It is accepted here that we sit and confessants stand on the knees near us because of humility.
I dropped down, not just kneeled... The Father took me by both shoulders, looked at me infinitely kindly, as no one has ever looked, and said:
- My dear child, my sweet child, my precious child! Are you twenty-six?
- Yes, Father.
- You are twenty-six, how many years were you fourteen years ago?
I thought a moment and answered:
- Twelve.
- True, and since that year you have begun concealing sins at the confession.

Do you want me to tell you them?

- Tell, Father, - I replied timidly.
And then the Farther began to name my sins for the previous years and even months as if he was reading them from an open book...

Confession, therefore, was twenty-five minutes long. I was completely crushed by the realization of my sinfulness and the realization of what a great man was standing before me.
How cautiously he revealed my sins, how careful he was, apparently, not to hurt me, and at the same time how imperiously and sternly he exposed iniquities, and when he saw that I was severely suffering, he brought his ear nearer to my mouth, so I just whispered:
- Yes...
And I, full of conceit, thought that I stood out from people for my Christian life. O Lord, what blindness, what a spiritual blindness!
- Stand up, my child!
I got up and approached the lectern.
- Repeat after me: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." [1]
Where are these words from?
- From the Fiftieth Psalm.
- You will read this psalm in the morning and in the evening daily.
- What is the icon in front of you?
- Queen of Heaven.
- And which is the Queen of Heaven? Tikhvin one. Repeat a prayer after me ...  
When I bowed my head, and the Farther having covered me with the epitrachelion, began to read the prayer of absolution, I felt that such immense heaviness had fallen from me, I felt so easily and so unusual...
- After all that the Lord revealed to me about you, that you will want to praise me as a saint, but you should not do this - do you hear? I am a sinful man, you won’t say to anybody...
My darling ..., the Lord help and save thee!
Many - many times the Father blessed me and let go ...

[1] Translator note: KJV: Psalm 51:10

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