The Heavenly Kingdom is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. We need to humble our hearts, which take insults so deeply and also our so-called dignity, for we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven in pride, as when we take to heart each slander our neighbor casts. We must accept our lessons from everyday life, for each day brings us cares, worries, and insults.
We must learn not to take insults to heart, for who knows what awaits us during the course of our earthly lives? God is merciful to us and has concealed our future from us. Otherwise, not one among us would be able to go on, knowing what the future holds for him. We must live through many misfortunes and sorrows in order to learn how to rise above all these problems that disturb our inner peace.
We must learn to acquire the Divine peace and joy of the angels and saints, for the Kingdom of Heaven is acquired while we are still in this life. In this life we are in heaven one moment and in hades the next. You can see this for yourself and learn from it. When our thoughts are quiet and kind, when we forgive every slander and insult, we have Divine peace, joy, and stillness! But when we become angry because of someone’s unkind words, we are at once in hades! Everything collapses, and we lose all the joy of living that we had before. Can you see how terrible living in hades is? Here, in this life, we are given the chance to taste both the heavenly life and the life of hades.
We should choose that which gives us peace, the Heavenly Kingdom. We all desire this, without any exceptions, whether our lives are good or bad. All people long for peace and goodness, for ineffable love that never changes, and only God is this kind of love. He alone is unchangeable. He is always the same, and He is the basis of all things—preeminently of mankind. He is ever waiting for us to return to His embrace, but all we do is shy away from Him. He wants to give us peace and to comfort us so that we may experience the joy of living, but all we ever see are the cares and worries of this world.
When disobedience entered our forebears Adam and Eve, our nature suddenly changed. It became corrupt…prone to decay, and mortal. Death entered us. Before the Fall our forebears were immortal. Only God, our Creator, can bring us back to our original state, as He created us. It is for this reason that He Who is love came down to earth and was born of the Virgin as a child. It is for this reason that He lived for thirty-three years among men. He wanted to teach us the truth and to show us that He is love.
How does a person know in his heart that he has been forgiven? People have thoughts. We are like a fine thought-apparatus. We are connected to each other by our thoughts. When we think of a person, he immediately receives our thoughts. But since we are distracted and our thoughts are scattered, we cannot discern who it is that is sending us thoughts or the kind of thoughts he is sending us. On the other hand, the person who has peaceful thoughts, who is united with the Lord and whom the Lord has freed from distractions, this person knows exactly which thoughts are his own, which ones come from the enemy and which ones are from friends. Feelings and thoughts coming from the minds of our fellow men reach us. This is why I say to you that when we forgive from the heart, our neighbor can feel this and the burden that has been oppressing his soul is no more.
~Adapted from Elder Thaddeus, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, translated by Ana Smiljanic