Apparently, Elder Thaddeus had several experiences with angels, one while wide awake in prison, in which a very tall man wearing an old military uniform with a strange gold cross came to him to assure him that the Nazis would not be executing him, because God had many in Serbia that needed comfort. He also experienced the prayer “in” or “by” the heart through the Jesus prayer, and attained all three levels of Orthodox mystical experience by the time of his death. At his funeral, the birds, of whom he had often spoken with love and admiration, came in great numbers.
Here are some important points of doctrine gleaned from his essays, topical sermons, and quotes (ie., these are points that are repeated in various contexts and ways).
1. Man is a spiritual being who is dominated by psychic delusion and bodily passions, which convince us that “we” need something that is superfluous.
2. This domination always occurs through the power of aerial spirits, which are fallen angels, who have access to man’s psychic constitution and long experience in manipulating man.
3. These spirits have varying degrees of wickedness, even among their own hierarchy.
4. They do this because they are lonely, fearful of the coming judgement, envious of man’s special and privileged status, and because they also “feed” off the psychic energy derived from man’s falling into sin. Each angel or spirit has their own “specialty”.
5. Man has the power to resist this, primarily because these spirits cannot access or even see man’s inner heart, and because God Himself intervenes very frequently to lead souls back to Him.
6. God knew that the original state of man would “fall”, and that we would not be able to maintain our perfection; He therefore wisely and compassionately determined to use His own nature, and ours, in a synergistic way to overcome the fall, to lead back certain souls who remembered Him despite their sins, through their educative process back to a pristine condition.
7. This synergism is most boldly seen in the figure of Christ, who is the archetype or pattern for what will come after.
8. Mary the Theotokos is the pattern for what our love for God should be like. (I will speculate that this is primarily due to the lack of perfection in Christ, and the “feminine” nature of our soul in relation to its higher parts/God). Christ is the eventual pattern for our love, but Mary is chief among the saints.
9. Communion with angels and saints is necessary in order to achieve communion with God.
10. No evil spirit can touch someone who hasn’t first harmed themselves. “We are the sole architects of our future”.
11. Everyone without exception desires absolute life and love: humans are variously warped in their search for this.
12. Vigilance, eternal vigilance, is necessary to achieve a state of grace, and even to keep it. You must examine every thought that enters your inner heart.
13. Only through the descent of the higher part of the soul, the Nous, into the heart, can a state of illumination be achieved. This state can be prepared for, and God will grant it, but only when the time is right (ie., when someone has a chance of keeping it, and/or not abusing it for evil ends).
14. Obedience and vigilance are greater virtues than fasting and even prayer, unless the prayer comes from the heart (or, greater, is “of” the heart).
15. God will listen to any prayer from the heart, even if someone is very far from Him.
16. The evil spirits try very hard to separate children from parents, because this fracture of Tradition and custom accomplishes the loss of moral knowledge, spiritual truth, and the blessing that naturally adheres to filial obedience.
17. Men are “thought generators and receptors” : our thoughts have power and being – they influence us, and ours influence others:
Your thoughts are burdened because you are influenced by the thoughts of your fellow men. Pray to the Lord that He might take this burden from you. These are the thoughts of others which differ from yours. They have their plan, and their plan is to attack you with their thoughts. Instead of letting go, you have allowed yourself to become part of their plan, so of course you suffer. Had you ignored the attack, you would have kept your peace. They could have thought or said anything at all about you, yet you would have remained calm and at peace. Soon all their anger would have died down, like a deflated balloon, because of the pure and peaceful thoughts that would have come from you. If you are like that, calm and full of love, if all you think are good and kind thoughts, they will stop warring against you in their thoughts and will not threaten you anymore. But if you demand an eye for an eye, that is war. Where there is war there can be no peace. How can there be peace on a battlefield, when everyone is looking over their shoulders and anticipating a surprise attack from the enemy?18. Love comes from God, passion comes from evil spirits; men are constantly confusing and mixing the two. When we do this, evil predominates.
Addendum: So as not to cause those of the warrior caste to stumble, I point out that Orthodoxy does not have, as saints, exclusively Brahmins. There are warrior saints as well. There is an interesting tale mentioned by Elder Thaddeus in his book: the Turks once summoned at a parley the Serbs, and reproached them for not submitting to their rule, as their Christian faith should dictate (does this sound like secular humanists lecturing Christians on the faith?). They wanted to know by whose leave they fought, as Christians. The Serbs explained that the Lord commanded them to turn the other cheek as individuals, but that they were given a mission to guard those under their care, their families and small ones, so that by fighting in battle, they were doing double service to Christ in protecting and loving those under their responsibility.