Over the last few weeks, we have been blessed to read the newly released book, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives, containing the words and wisdom of Elder Thaddeus of Serbia.

Much is said in many Church Fathers about the need to guard our senses, to be careful of the mental images we accumulate, and to guard against intense feelings such as greed, envy of other people, anger, and lust.

In this remarkable book, Elder Thaddeus explores the consequences for us and for others when we choose to ignore this advice, and let our thought run rampant. Of course, the impact on our attitudes and actions is staggering. Yet Father Thaddeus underscores that we not only affect our own lives, either for good or evil: we profoundly affect the lives of those around us.

Much attention is paid among those who call themselves Christians to the need for outward charity, for social campaigns and "social justice". Elder Thaddeus' words remind us that we can really do very little in our lives or in the world before we undertake the interior struggle of conquering with God's help our own thoughts. In his words, it is these thoughts that determine our lives.

Great spiritual classics like Unseen Warfare, The Way of A Pilgrim, and The Ladder of Divine Ascent all point to this central responsibility in the life of an Orthodox Christian. It is tempting to forget it, and to immerse ourselves in all sorts of important outward business, especially at this time of year, as summer comes to a close.

Yet the message of the Orthodox Christian faith remains clear: if we lose the battle of the thoughts, we inevitably lose every important battle in our lives, regardless of our outward successes.

It is a lesson worth learning.

– FrG+

"Ours must be an orthodoxy of the heart, not just the mind."

-St.Tikhon of Zadonsk