LITTLE FLOWERS OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, Chapter 31
HOW ST FRANCIS WAS ACQUAINTED WITH THE SECRETS OF THE CONSCIENCES OF ALL HIS BRETHREN
The topic of this Little Flowers story seems to me to be care of souls. The church fathers mentioned the care of souls as a spiritual gift. And they likened one who was blessed with this gift to a physician, understanding the deseases that trouble his charges and knowing the remedies for them. They advised their readers to take great care in seeking a spiritual father, because many put themselves forth, but few are really qualified. Someone blessed with the gift of care of souls won't necessarily rise high in ecclesiastic heirarchies. That isn't to say that it can't be found there. I think it was St. Symeon in one of his ethical discourses who advises us not to seek after famous monks for our spiritual fathers. I don't think his point was because none of them are qualified, but rather that there is no need to limit the search to that level. And equally, at that level or lower, it's a rare gift.