Two of Fr. Macarius's spiritual guides, Elder Athanasius and Igumen Seraphim, passed away closely together, in 1825 and 1826 respectively. Fr. Macarius was appointed dean of the Hermitage on [[June 10]], 1826. In January 1827, he was assigned confessor at the Holy Trinity Convent of Sevsk. His acceptance of these appointments, in obedience to the will of the bishop, began his period of spiritual direction and spiritual correspondence that lasted until his death.
The arrival of Fr. Leonid (Nagolkin), in 1828, at Ploschansky from the St. Alexander of Svir Monastery, with several disciples, was the answer to Fr. Macarius' prayers. Fr. Leonid was a man of great spiritual wisdom. This holy Elder, who had struggled against many visible and invisible foes, was able to give useful advice to those who were experiencing temptations. He understood from personal experience that those who wish to serve the Lord must prepare their souls for temptation. After repeated requests, he agreed to accept Fr. Macarius as a spiritual son and disciple. When Fr. Leonid moved to Optina in 1829, Fr. Macarius remained in touch with him through letters.
Fr. Macarius visited Fr. Leonid at Optina in 1831 on his way to St. Petersburg, where Bp. Nicodemus of Orel was serving his term in the [[Holy Synod]]. He had appointed Fr. Macarius treasurer and steward, much to the latter's chagrin. Fr. Macarius found the bustle of the city distasteful and longed to return to the quiet of the [[monastery]], yet he persevered in his position out of obedience to the bishop. After he had completed his service in St. Petersburg, Fr. Macarius visited Fr. Leonid at Optina on his return to Ploschansky Hermitage. During his visit, he made a request to Fr. [[Moses of Optina|Moses]] to be admitted to the Skete at Optina as soon as this might be arranged. His transfer from Ploschansky to Optina, however, did not take place until [[January 14]], 1834. Fr. Macarius finally arrived at Optina on [[February 5]], 1834.