The Spiritual Child Overcoming Sin

“A brother questioned Abba Poemen, saying, ‘I am losing my soul through living near my abba; should I go on living with him?’ The old man knew that he was finding this harmful and he was surprised that he even asked if he should stay there. So he said to him, ‘Stay if you want to.’

The brother left him and stayed on there. He came back again and said, ‘I am losing my soul.’ But the old man did not tell him to leave.

He came a third time and said, ‘I really cannot stay there any longer.’ Then Abba Poemen said, ‘Now you are saving yourself; go away and do not stay with him any longer,’ and he added, ‘When someone sees that he is in danger of losing his soul, he does not need to ask advice. It is right to ask about secret thoughts and then it is up to the old man to test them; but with visible faults, do not ask; cut them off at once.’ ”

(Poemen in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, p 193)