Divine abandonment according to Elder Sophrony
ARCHIM. EFREM OF VATOPEDY, Divine abandonment according to Elder Sophrony
Elder Sophrony divides the spiritual life into three periods. The fi rst, the initial one, is that of the
call to and inspiration for the struggle in question; the second is that of the withdrawal of “perceptible”
Grace and the experience of divine abandonment; and the third is the return of perceptible
Grace and its retention.
The Elder writes that God, Who has at fi rst wounded the heart of the Christian with His love, then
withdraws. The Christian is then faced with a struggle which may last for years or even decades.
After the initial visitation of divine Grace, the wars and the combat begins. It takes us a long time to
assimilate the Grace we were fi rst given. And this assimilation comes with patience and fortitude in
the times when divine Grace is with- drawn. Grace returns for a while, reinforces hope, renews the
inspiration for the struggle, but then departs again.
KEYWORDS: Elder Sofrony, divine abandonment, holy Grace, spiritual struggle, hope