In the Office of Readings for today, we have some of a curious and challenging letter from Peter to St. Teresa of Avila. He warns the "Mother Prioress" about seeking advice on matters of the spiritual life and the evangelical counsels from those who have no competence in living them:
I was not a little surprised, Mother Prioress, that you submitted a matter of such importance to learned men who no competence in the matter. Now when there is a question about lawsuits or cases of conscience it will indeed be praiseworthy to get advice from lawyers and theologians and follow their opinion. But when there is a question about the life of perfection reason particularly suggests that those persons to be consulted who profess the life of perfection; that lawyers and theologians cannot have better advice or opinion on this matter, a study and scrutiny of their works shows very clearly.
We should note that this means that who are religious must accept and embrace the particular expertise and competence we are supposed to have. By our religious profession we have made our Christianity public, and are obligated to pursue holiness in a particular and public way. People who seek from us knowledge and counsel on their own prayer lives and interior struggles for holiness ought to be confident that we have something to offer. Of course this also goes, in similar senses, for priests and indeed anyone who has accepted public ministry in the Church and thereby made their baptism a public property. In this regard it is also important to always be continuing our own reading and reflection in the spiritual tradition. In my own time as a parish confessor, I would occasionally have a penitent whom I suspected of being advanced far beyond me in the spiritual life. To such persons I could only speak to with great tentativeness from things I've read in books.