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Outline of Elder Thaddeus’s Life

Born and baptized October 6 (Old Calendar) 1914, Feast of Holy Apostle Thomas, weakly and sick, fearing he would die, in Serbia. Named Tomislav.

As young boy, mother died. Father remarried twice. Step-mothers abusive. Father didn’t stand up for him. Different from other kids because of dietary issues. No one thought he’d be good for anything. Found solace in God, and his own thoughts.

Realized early in life that life consists of serving others and that he must patently bear both sorrow and pain in serving.

Was apprenticed to be a tailor rather than a farmer because physically weak. Not successful.

At 18 years old, desire arises to become a monk. Writes letter to Gornjak monastery. While awaiting reply, he falls gravely ill, decides to forgo treatment. Told has 5 years to live.

1932 Goes to monastery against parent’s will. At Gornjak monastery, told and guided to go to Miljkovo monastery instead, to find the kind of monasticism he seeks. This monastery is coenobitic, meaning life in community. Strict prayer rule: Daily liturgy, strict fasting, full cycle prayers, pray in cell.

1932 At Miljkovo, becomes a Novice. He is given several obediences all of which he failed at, but his Abbot covered his failures with love and patient forbearance. As he thought he had only 5 years to live, he confessed all thoughts, and gave himself over to constant prayer of the heart. Once he became a monk, the battle with his thoughts intensified. Abbot counsels him to pray with contrition of heart. He starts zealously to read the Holy Fathers.

After one year, Abbot Ambrose dies in 1933. Monastery starts to break up. He’s thrown into deep sorrow, and loses prayer of heart. His soul is torn by sadness. Finds consolation in a book called The Path to Salvation by St. Theophan the Recluse.

1935 He goes to Gornjak monastery. Tonsured a Monk. Takes name of Thaddeus. From there, sent to school to learn iconography. Learns the mystical theology of icons, but cannot continue because of paint fumes.

1937, the supposed last year of his life, ordained Heiromonk and sent to Pech in Kosovo until 1941, when has to flee from violence at the outbreak of WWII. Back to Belgrade where he is accepted into Radovica monastery.

1941 Arrested by Nazis. Questioned whether he is a communist. Returns to Vitovnica where SS demands that he be at their disposal, he refuses.

1943 Arrested again, thrown into prison without charges, and sentenced to death. With his soul in anguish, has first vision of an Angel as a soldier, showing him a map of Serbia and all whom he must comfort.

1949 Becomes Abbot at Pech. Monastery in ruins, communists giving trouble. Suffers two nervous breakdowns as a result of fear, anxiety, and worry. Learns to leave his cares, and those of neighbors, in the hands of God. Bears the cross of serving as abbot for next six years.

1955 Briefly serves parishes.

1956 Back serving as Abbot at Pech.

1957 Back to Belgrade as Abbot of Gornjak until dies in 2003.

1959 Desires, and given blessing to go to Mt. Athos to Hilandar monastery where he is not well received. Later, learns that it was because he followed his own will. Comforted by the Mother of God while there, he learns from her that “his nerves are worn out.”

1962-1972 Abbot of Vitovnica. During this time has two visions:

First: “This is how you must ease all tension. Do not take on the worries of this world too much, but guard your peace and live with God!”

Second: “The Savior told him to fall down before His Most Holy Mother, the Protectress of Monastics.”

During this time, he realizes that he never wanted to be an abbot because it took him away from a life of silence, vigilance, and prayer. He wrestled with God for always sending him back to a flock and duties as an abbot. Lesson learned that if you don’t have humility, God will not stop at humbling us.

1972 Sent into retirement, then installed as Abbot of Pokajnica monastery. Another vision from God asking: “Why do you fight the good fight when you have no obedience? Whenever you were assigned to serve at a certain place as abbot you complained about it, asking to be excused. You must not do so anymore! Know you must carry out every obedience with much love, earnestly, and with zeal, without paying any attention to the envy and malice around you…this is the cross you must bear.”

1978 he has vision of his own death with judges accusing him of not getting along with anyone. A man on his right says, “Do not be afraid! It is not true that you cannot get along with anyone. You just cannot get along with yourself!” At that moment, the words of St. Isaac the Syrian came to him, “Make peace with yourself, and both heaven and earth will make peace with you.”

1980s people around Serbia start to stream to him. From then on, he gave talks, lessons, spiritual advice, and prayers to all who came. It was his cross to bear.

1992 first heart attack.

1996 second heart attack.

November 2001 Ill. Said that “Holy Fathers say the perfect Christian life is extreme humility, meaning patient long-suffering is what we most need in this life. We must bear everything patiently, and forgive all. If we have good thoughts and desires these thoughts give us joy and peace, even in this life, and even more so, in eternity. Then, we will see, there is no death.”

2002 Has stroke. Long illness follows. Saw illness as an aid to perfection. Endured it with love, obedience, and humility.

2003 Death on Feast of St. Mary of Egypt. March 31 Old Calendar.

 

How this book is Organized

This book was compiled from transcribed talks, audio taped conversations and written texts, and sermons. It is organized by subject matter with a sermon at the end of the book that gives a complete view of how the elder presented his teachings.

Each chapter has within it, numbered, stand-alone paragraph(s) of thoughts, reflections, stories, advice, and counsel that can be a springboard for our discussion.