A meeting with an old man
Previously, I had some correspondence with him (concerning my writing about the Apocalypse), and I had also been thinking about getting married–quite vaguely, in principle, because I didn’t have any girlfriend in mind. At the time, one could hear the most wonderful things about Elder Thaddeus (among other things, he saved many drug addicts with prayer), but also some fabrications–some people went to him as if he were a guru, and they say that he was especially “battered” by certain women who asked his advice about everything, even which color to die their hair into. With the patience of a martyr, he received everyone and listened to everything, speaking the word of the Lord and the letter of true love. The damage was still there: they and those who didn’t understand him talked about everything and anything, just as today they talk about Nikola Tesla as an alien.
I have a friend whose father was from Vitovnica. While we were traveling by car to the monastery, I looked at the scenery and enjoyed the strangeness of the area.
There was another senior monk in the monastery–I have unfortunately forgotten his name–with whom I also spoke, and it seemed to me (though I might be wrong) that he would have liked to be a bishop. There was also a shaggy novice, who brought some spoilt sarmas (stuffed cabbage leaves–ed.) in a pot, and asked Father Thaddeus what to do with them. He, quite logically, told the novice to throw them away, to which the novice said: “How can I throw them away when I prepared them with so much love?”
That’s when I strongly felt that Father Thaddeus welcomed various people into the brotherhood and did not drive anyone away. They were like that for a while, and then they left if felt they couldn’t stay next to a man of such miraculous humility.
And I’ve never seen anyone calmer than him. Thoroughly calm, the meekest, not of this world. I sat next to Patriarch Pavle, who was modest in both his looks and gestures, I spent time with the child that was Bishop Danilo of Budim, I looked at the inscrutable eyes of the Elder Cleopas of Romania, who had small clefts in the skin under his eyes that glistened because of the sea of tears he had shed–but no one was like the Elder Thaddeus. I had the impression that he was there, but also not there–that he was not of this world. I cannot describe that impression. The gentleness, the softness in his speech, and the gleam in his pupils, the stars–the cheekbones on the face of pious old age–none of this is enough to describe him. He was with us, but in the Realm of Humility, in which there is no contrary thought.
I asked the Elder Thaddeus how to find a wife. He said that this is not an easy feat today, because in the marriages that are concluded nowadays, there is no longer spousal coexistence in the gentle yoke of Christ: one spouse pulls forth, the other pulls back, and such coexistence often becomes torture.
I also heard some other lessons from him:
– Every job should be done as for God, not as for men.
– We should not grumble at superiors when they give us more work than we like, and they themselves don’t work.
– The most important thing is to keep peace in our thoughts, so that fallen spirits could not harm us. When we pay attention to the thoughts they throw at us, they defeat us. Man, with his thoughts, is his own biggest tormentor. What he thinks, he thinks to himself, what he does, he does to himself.
– Obedience to parents should be absolute. Even when the mother is a hundred years old and the son is eighty, she has the right to beat and scold him, because he is a small child to her. That is why many marriages are unhappy; it is not worth it that married couples love each other, if they have not received the blessing of their parents.
– In the workplace, you should not say anything to anyone, but set an example by your own silence which should speak more than words.
– It’s hard to get married today: everything is corrupted. A woman will not bear the yoke with her husband, but rather escape from it. An even if she does take it upon herself, she walks behind the husband, lags behind, and he is the one that has to pull the whole yoke.
– The Lord commands us to love our enemies not so much for their sake as for our own: it is a way to preserve spiritual tranquility and peace.
– It is very important not to go to war with anyone. There are, for example, families that are not pious or church going, but get along very well, they don’t yell at each other, rather they listen to each other, and everything goes well for them and they progress. And yet, there’s a devout family, everyone goes to church, takes the Communion and it still doesn’t work out for them. Why? Because there is no harmony, they are mentally at war with each other.
– We should work and not be lazy, because our God is very hard working, and He does not like laziness.
– You can do and write everything that is useful and for the glory of God.
– If you want to avoid anger, don’t desire that everything should be according to your will and don’t belittle anyone.
He was a wonderful blessing. Joy in the heart from him.
Lessons on the peace of mind
Since the passing of the Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, the mystifications related to his spiritual (or “mystical”, as the popular culture would say) life and asceticism have not stopped. His image, however, was shaped in accordance with the tradition of the Church in the East. Because the Elder Thaddeus was a spiritual man who lived in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Fathers about guarding one’s heart and thoughts, primarily through the constant prayer of Jesus. That is where the secret of his grace should be sought. He was a disciple of the Elder Amvrosi (Kurganov), a disciple of saints from Optina, who lived and taught in the Miljko’s monastery near Svilajnac (Eastern Serbia), after arriving in Serbia in the wake of the Bolshevik coup. It was with him that Father Thaddeus received the Holy Father’s teaching on prayer and sobriety. There was nothing in him of a “guessing wizard”. It happened that various bio-energy healers and the like came to him, confusing him with their own story, and they allegedly received a “blessing” to do what they were doing. Father Thaddeus himself, however, did not bless people to do any witchcraft.
The Elder Thaddeus’ basic teaching is that God is everywhere, and that He helps everyone: “Both the weak and the strong, everyone who needs help.” That’s why we need to constantly train ourselves to open our hearts to God.”
Life depends on our thoughts and desires. We create harmony or disharmony within ourselves. Harmless and meek souls, calm and meek, radiate goodness.
We live in a terrible time, when the papers are full of news about crimes committed among the closest family members, which often happen because of the most ordinary trifles, even banalities. The only way to protect oneself from such temptations is to constantly fight against anger. The Holy Fathers say that an angry person is a voluntary epileptic (John Climacus), and that anger is a consequence of our will. Instead of surrendering to the will of God, we want our sinful and failed will to be done.
A letter about the end of times
All kinds of prophecies, both possible and impossible, are attributed to the Elder Thaddeus. But he was a saintly sober man, who knew what he was talking about. Here is a letter about the fate of our people (the original of that letter is in the personal archives of the signatories of these lines):
Noble Soul Beloved to the Lord,
There is no repentance in our people. Almost half of the Serbs are unbaptized, and even those who are baptized, continuously prove with their swear words that they are enemies and that they hate God.
The Lord says through the Prophet of the Old Testament: I am the one Who punishes the sins of fathers upon those who hate Me.
Now, judge for yourself and you will see that there are more Serbs who hate God than those who pray to Him and ask for mercy and salvation of Serbia and the Serbs.
Only the boundless mercy of God can deliver us from the state in which [we are], due to impiety, we have pushed ourselves and each other into ruin.
It is good that you are working on the translation of the prophecies, so that, even if it is a small number, they will know to some extent what time we are in.
Wishing you peace and joy and all the best from the Lord and the Most Holy Mother of God
Archim. Thaddeus and his brothers
Here, then, is a very clear and simple message: we will not be well until we repent and return to Christ. If there is no repentance, as in a complete change of mind and way of life, the Serbs will disappear. God is the source of life–without God there is death. And what is called God’s punishment is God’s withdrawal–God lets us reap what we sowed with the devil. That is why it is said that even God has given up on someone who has completely failed. Because, as Blessed Augustine said: The Lord never leaves anyone, except the one who leaves the Lord.
According to Father Thaddeus, relationships within family life also depend a lot on how much family members guard their thoughts. Before us is the Elder’s letter addressed to a woman who was grieving over her relationship with her brother and sister-in-law, who treated her mother and mother-in-law badly. The woman sent a letter to Father Thaddeus, he advised her; she listened to him–and the situation in the family changed radically. Here is the Elder’s letter:
Noble Soul Beloved to the Lord,
I read your long letter.
You are oversensitive and all those who are oversensitive suffer a lot in their life, because they pay attention to the circumstances and inconveniences that befall them in life.
Because you expect attention and understanding from everyone, especially from your own family, that’s why you suffer a lot.
You need to think a little deeper about everything. When a mother marries her son, that daughter-in-law can be like an angel of good, but the mother-in-law cannot stand her, because the daughter-in-law kidnapped her son, and it is natural for the husband to turn to his wife, while the parents remain on the other side, the mother cannot stand that and in her soul she can’t stand her daughter-in-law, and from the outside it can be the best thing with a daughter-in-law, but, unfortunately, no one needs to confirm to us that someone loves us or does not love us, it’s something you simply feel, and so between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law, a mental war arises and often it lasts until the end of her life, because the daughter-in-law does not know the secret of life, that she should love her mother-in-law, more than her own mother, and the mother-in-law will continue to wage a mental war with her daughter-in-law for some time and in the end, she will have to lay down her arms, because there is no such force against love that will be able to resist for a long time, and when the mother-in-law sees that there is no more resistance with her daughter-in-law, but that she constantly matches her with love, then she will love her daughter-in-law more than her son, because now in the daughter-in-law she has one more son (child) who loves her very much. Hardly anyone realizes and understands this secret, but there are such daughters-in-law where perfect divine love reigns between them and their mothers-in-law.
Then you should understand that your sister-in-law cannot bear that her husband, your brother, is attentive and accommodating to you and your mother, and it is understandable that your brother must be rude to you and his mother, in order to preserve the harmony of his marriage.
You, as a pious soul, need to understand and grasp all this, and not to take to heart the insults inflicted on you by your relatives, close friends and enemies, but to forgive them from the bottom of your heart and thus you will be able to preserve peace in your heart and soul.
Forgive everyone from the bottom of your heart and from now on, do not wage a mental war with any soul, and then you will have the peace of God within you and that peace will radiate from you in all directions, especially to those with whom you often come into contact.
Wishing you peace and joy and all the best to everyone from the Lord and from the Most Holy Mother of God,
Archim. Thaddeus and his brothers
How can we postpone the end of the world?
According to Father Thaddeus, the end of the world is nearing, and every year we enter its vestibule more and more. And yet, the end of the world depends on the behavior of Christians. He said that the apocalypse is, among other things, a consequence of the bad, wrong upbringing of children, who sink into various types of “virtual reality”, from drugs to television.
Father Thaddeus said this about the last times: “The Lord wanted to shorten the age of this world in the sixth century. He was sick of that internal struggle in the Church. There were many heretics… And who were the main heretics? The main heretics were highly educated and former Orthodox Christians. What’s more, priests and patriarchs, servants, such as Arius and Macedonius. He was the first to cause a schism, followed by many others. And the Lord was tired of all that. And He wanted to shorten the age of the world. But because of the prayers of the Blessed Mother and the three souls who prayed for our country. The Lord has extended the life of this world. In my younger years, I read it in Russian in the book Questions and Answers of Saint Barsanuphius the Great. I thought I would remember the names of those who prayed, one was in Corinth, another in Rome, the third in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, later I forgot. When our famous father Justin translated the Lives of the Saints, he translated a passage from Questions and Answers by Saint Barsanuphius, so I found that in Corinth there was Venerable Elijah, in Rome Venerable John, in the Jerusalem Patriarchate, Saint Barsanuphius. Thus, because of the prayer of the Blessed Mother and these three, the Lord extended the age.
But we were not left without punishment, because Christians were often even more loose in their actions and life than the pagans themselves. That is why the Lord allowed the illegitimate son to persecute the legitimate one. We Christians are the New Israel, the legitimate children. The Arabs are of Israeli origin, they are the children of Hagar’s son Ishmael. God allowed Muhammad to appear and he is a scourge for Christians. The Lord will not remove that scourge, to this day, because we are not what we should be.
Those who are older know what our nation was like before the war, and what it is like now, after the war. It’s very, very different. Even before the war, there were dance parties in all towns and villages, the youth gathered for the dance, but the party started immediately after lunch, and as soon as the sun was about to set, everyone dispersed. And now our youth go out at 10, 11 in the evening, now night becomes day, and day becomes night. And what good can we hope for? You see what a difficult time has come.
Man does not even realize that he is a spiritual being. All immersed in the body and corporeal, he does not understand that his soul is similar to angels, and that it has enormous, God-given, energy. The state of a person’s thoughts depends not only on his relationship with other people, but also with the Creator, his older brothers, angels, and the entire cosmos. When people’s thoughts turn bestial and focused on the earthly things so much, it will be the end of the world.”
Thus spoke the wise old Thaddeus. The enemies of God, who are creating the New World Order (new as the devil’s hooves, of course), know very well the power of thought: this is evidenced by the fact that for decades they have been trying to create weapons that will influence the human mind and change it according to the evil will of their master, devil. Father Thaddeus often said that the servants of the Antichrist have various means by which they influence people and nations.
Testimony of Svetozar Poštić
Our interpreter of literature and culture, Svetozar Poštić, who met the Elder, wrote about him in 2018: “Last month it was 15 years since the death of the great Serbian elder, Archimandrite Thaddeus of Vitovnica (1914–2003). Towards the end of his life, numerous books with his teachings began to appear, which soon began to be translated into various languages, and experienced great popularity in some countries. Father Thaddeus is particularly well-known in Russia and among the American Orthodox.
Last week I returned from a conference in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, where I was invited to speak about Father Thaddeus. Someone read my text about the meetings with the Elder Thaddeus in English and invited me to come to the four-day meeting. The conference was organized by the only Orthodox Christian school in that country of slightly more than a million inhabitants. Orthodox theologians, philosophers, psychologists, priests and hieromonks took part in it.
The theme of the conferences was hope (official name: “I hope, therefore, I exist”). When we think of Father Thaddeus and his teachings, the first association for us can be peace and joy, as the book about him published by Obraz Svetački reads, or the influence of thoughts on one’s life, as the title of the second book with his sermons reads. The organizers of the conference, however, mostly associate the Serbian Elder with the Christian concept of hope. When I talked to several people who had read about him and watched videos of him, I found out why, and I was convinced that their feeling was completely justified.
It is known from the life of Elder Thaddeus that he experienced a nervous breakdown twice. The modest and meek monk above all wanted solitude and undisturbed prayer, and during his seven-decade-long monastic career, he was constantly appointed to the position of head of various monasteries in Serbia. This duty was always difficult for him, and it was most difficult for him when the brothers did not agree with each other. In addition, the communist authorities made it difficult for him to do his job in various ways. Overwhelmed by great troubles and obstacles, he became completely physically disabled twice, after which it took him a long time to recover from the enormous psychological tension. In this, he received support from the Mother of God and Christ, who appeared to him in his dreams at those moments.
When he could no longer withstand the psychological pressure of caring for many souls, he, according to his own testimony, left all his worries to the Lord and his Blessed Mother, and trusted in God to solve every problem. In this way, he gained peace and strengthened himself in faith, and he also gained God’s blessings.
If a man of holy life such as the Elder Thaddeus was able to experience two nervous breakdowns due to too many worries in life, then there is hope for us sinful mortals, who are overloaded with the worries of this world every day, that one day we too will be saved. That’s the hope that drove the hosts to include in the conference a personal testimony about an old man for whom they feel great love and respect.
During the church service towards the end of my stay, in addition to the photos of several other elders on the small table in the altar, I also noticed a picture of Father Thaddeus. Someone later told me that, as soon as I started to speak while the wide smile of the Serbian elder was projected on the wall above me, tears started to flow uncontrollably from the eyes of the abbot of the Orthodox Church and the priest of the school, Father Tom, a serious and focused priest.
Elder Thaddeus’ well-deserved fame among Orthodox Christians all over the world gives us Serbs hope that God, having given us great spiritual comfort through his person and work in the most difficult times, has not yet abandoned us.”
There are fewer and fewer people like Father Thaddeus, a gracious teacher of prayer and humility. That’s why it’s like this for us: both in the family, and in the state, and, increasingly, in the Church. Following our own will and not the will of God, we sink deeper and deeper. But whoever wants to help himself and others should listen to the voice of Truth, which is the meek and humble Christ, of whom Father Thaddeus was the messenger.
Discussion about this post