St Leo Understood that the “Foreseeing” Monk is in a Devilish Delusion

From the Life of St Leo of Optina

Elder Leo of Optina (1768 - 1841)

As an example of a spiritual discernment, the following story is given. At the end of the 20s or at the beginning of the 30s, the Elder Fr. Leonid visited the Sofronieva Hermitage in Putivl District, Kursk Province. At that time, Hieroschemamonk Theodosius lived there in a hermitage in the garden, and many considered him a spiritual and clairvoyant man, because he predicted in his time the Patriotic War of 1812 and some other events. Fr Leonid found his spiritual condition questionable. After talking with the hermit, the Elder asked him, how he knew and foretold the future. The hermit answered that the Holy Spirit disclosed him the future. When further asked by the Elder, in what way did He disclose it, he explained that the Holy Spirit appeared to him in the form of a dove and spoke to him with a human voice. Seeing that this was an obvious delusion of the enemy, Fr. Leonid began to warn the recluse that such things should not be trusted. But he was offended, and with indignation objected to the Elder, “I thought that you, like the others, wanted to get useful things from me, and you came to teach me!” After that, the Elder Fr. Leonid withdrew and, leaving the monastery, said to the abbot, “Take care of your holy recluse, lest anything bad happens to him.” Barely had Fr. Leonid reached Oryol, when he learned there that poor Theodosius had hanged himself. From this, we may conclude that although this hermit was in the delusion of the enemy, the mercy of God did not entirely depart from him. However, when he rejected the benevolent warning of the wise and experienced Elder, the Lord forsook him, and he died such a horrible death.

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