The Extended Family

The importance of building multigenerational ties

At seventy-three years of age I find myself looking closely at our present day young people, and seeing in them, myself. Inside this old man is a young man sometimes screaming to get out. Caring so much for our young people, it is sometimes a shock when I see a group photo of myself with young men and women, and realize the white bearded old guy in their midst, is me. Like many of my old friends, I feel that I am to a great degree, the same person on the inside that I was when I was twenty-two.

Although I have never been married, and have no children of my own, I’m often excited when young couples visit the monastery with their children, as I feel like a grandpa whose children just arrived, bringing my grandchildren to see me. But, as one priest friend pointed out, in a real sense, I am a grandfather, and have many children and grandchildren.

Like many of my old friends, I am sometimes saddened when my “children” and “grandchildren” drift away, busying themselves with their own lives, and forgetting to stay in touch with this aging monk. So, even though I have no children of my own blood, I do have many children in the spiritual sense, and sometimes find myself worried when I don’t hear from them.

Over the years I’ve had many old friends share their sadness at having seen their younger family members begin focusing on lives that do not seem to include them. Part of the problem for those of my generation, is that we grew up in an age when family ties where strong, and extended families tended to stay close to one another, often living in the same towns for their whole lives.

My own parents and grandparents, as well as numerous aunts and uncles, and plenty of cousins, were important people in my life. That the day would come where we’d all be spread out across the country, never seeing one another, seemed impossible. Yet as that increasingly became a reality, I remember how hurt my mother’s mom felt, seeing here grandchildren grow up, have families of their own, and move to far away places.

When children cease to be children, and become independent, relationships change, leaving many broken hearted older people saddened by such unexpected separation. Added to the pain, is the fact that many young adults cease to be part of the family’s faith community, leaving yet another link broken in the aftermath.

I feel a certain sadness that our present culture has separated the generations, with older people moving into retirement communities, and children separating themselves from their own parents, while focusing on social media for support and “friendships”. Gone, it would seem, is the age when we were all called upon to contribute, in our own way, to the greater good of our communities.

Perhaps it is time we Orthodox Christians return to our roots, and build foundations that will reclaim the traditions that were, at one time, the basis for what it meant to be part of the human family. For this to happen, we all need to commit ourselves to building multigenerational ties that allow us to share the strengths and weaknesses we all bring to the table, be we old or young, and move forward to create a more enlightened society. We old people have much to pass on from the our life experience, and our young have much to share with us, as the newest generation. Together, we can make for a better world.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: Myself as a young man of twenty-three, and now a man of seventy-three.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 / January 16, 2019
36th Week after Pentecost. Tone two.
Veneration of the Precious Chains of the Holy and All-glorious Apostle Peter.
Blessed Maximus of Totma (Vologda), fool-for-Christ (1650).
New Hieromartyr John priest (1919).
Martyrs the brothers Speusippus, Eleusippus, and Meleusippus, their grandmother Leonilla, and with them Neon, Turbo, and the woman Jonilla (Jovilla), in Cappadocia (ca. 161-180).
Martyr Danax the Reader in Macedonia (2nd c.).
St. Honoratus the Archbishop of Arles and Founder of Lerins Monastery (429).
Venerable Romilos, monk of Mt. Athos and Ravanica (Serbia) (1375), disciple of St. Gregory of Sinai, and with him Sts. Nestor, Martinius, Daniel, Sisoes, Zosimas, and Gregory (Greek).
New Hieromartyr Damascene of Hilandar on Mt. Athos and Gabrovo (Bulgaria) (1771) (Greek).
St. Honoratus, archbishop of Aries and founder of Lerins Monastery (429).
St. Sigebert, king of the East Angles, martyr (635) (Celtic & British).
St. Fursey of Burgh Castle, enlightener of East Anglia and Langy (650) (Celtic & British).
St. James of Tarentaise (429).
New Martyr Nicholas of Mitylene (1777).

The Scripture Readings

Hebrews 12:25-26

Hear the Heavenly Voice

25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”

Hebrews 13:22-25

22 And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. 23 Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.

24 Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.

25 Grace be with you all. Amen.

Mark 10:2-12

2 The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him.

3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?”

4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.”

5 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

10 In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. 11 So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. The Monastery is under the omophore of The Most Rev. Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.


  1. Glory to Jesus Christ!

    Dear Father,
    I’ve read many of your morning posts, in fact, I begin my day with them, and have felt many stirrings of my own contemplations on life, the faith and love. I want to thank you for taking the time you take to collect your thoughts, write and share what feels like your personal journal entries that reveal both your wisdom and life in Christ. When I read them to my teenage daughter, a small smile creeps onto her face in hearing such similar ideas shared. Today’s post was particularly connected to my own musings as I’ve just spent the past few weeks discussing the importance of community, loving our neighbors and being connected to one another in meaningful ways. I live in the snow belt of NE Ohio and with 2 sons now gone, my daughter and I are struggling to manage all the snow. It brings such sorrow to me to see so many neighbors with plows effortlessly drive by us while we are shoveling through 2 feet of snow! I too remember a time when extended family formed a circle of connection, including the non-relatives that lived around us. I used to be rooted to places, but now I see that we must be willing to go in order to build these healthy community connections. I joke with my middle son that once he establishes his life, we should buy a piece of land in which we can all live in simple homes, with a small chapel in the center where we can begin and end our days with each other But it is more my deepest desire than it is a joke. One thing is constant – our connected souls within the Lord. I do not want my children to struggle to start their lives for fear of “leaving” me in a certain place. As long as we are seeking to be united through Christ, our bonds do not dissipate, but will eventually allow us all to grow together, hopefully leading to lives also connected in geographical proximity.
    In Christ,

  2. Father, bless! I remember you every morning in my prayers…we are connected in that sense. I, too, struggle with family moving far away. It is a great consolation to me that we have 15 Godchildren of various ages, most of whom we get to see often. And we have so many young people coming to visit our church who need “family.” (22 Catechumens this year!) It’s a reminder to me that these are my children, and that wherever my own children go, I pray that others will, in a sense, adopt them as their own. It’s a big part of my job as a “mom” now to greet each person who walks into our church as if they are my new children. So many are coming (this in Austin, Tx) that an additional church campus will be built this year. So encouraging! I hope that news is encouraging for you as well.

  3. Father Tryphon Bless,
    I have five children four grand children and I experience all the things you mentioned. Regarding the photos you posted; You are truly made in the image and likeness of what we perceive to be what God looks like! 😃

  4. Glory be to God!
    Dear Abbot Tryphon,
    We follow you eagerly every morning from Argentina and indeed it is our consolation to read and hear your thoughts daily. Every morning offering is a revelation of our own reality together with your wise advice. We attend the Russian church in Buenos Aires. Please, do continue always with your morning offerings. Bless us,
    I have three grownup children, Mary, Paul and Peter and two grandchildren Eliah and Phillip.

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