All posts by Jared Frederick Hall

I am a convert to Orthodoxy and a struggling sinner. I belong to a small OCA parish. I am a libertarian and passionate about natural birth. Married to a wonderful, natural-minded woman. Together with our two boys and little girl we are trying to make sense of this world. For this reason, my patron is Brendan.

Sheltering the Homeless in Erie, PA

ErieSo it’s a festive time of year a time for loved ones and building great memories. But as Orthodox Christians it’s also a time for fasting and increased alms giving. Every year my friend’s parish hosts the emergency overflow shelter for the homeless of his city along with two other churches for 2 two week periods; during the month of December and again in February. It’s a big undertaking and they never have enough supplies. They ALWAYS NEED, BLANKETS, SOCKS, UNDERWEAR, JACKETS, SWEATSHIRTS, PANTS etc. FOR MEN AND WOMEN. People can donate these items via mail or send a gift card for purchasing said items. They take this project on with very little aid from the city mission. If any one would like to help them please email Stephen Maynard at stephen.a.maynard@gmail.com or call him at (814) 314-9646. You can also reach
the church office (814) 449-8515 or mail a package or what not to:

Church of the Nativity
109 German St
Erie, PA 16507

Or to:


Nolan School of Music
3306 Buffalo Rd
Erie, PA 16510


If it’s a package the music shop is a better choice since Stephen is always there and there’s only some one in the church office twice a week.

Erie3
Thank you for your love and care for the needy of this world. This is the season to work on earning many crowns in heaven or polish a few up
With love in Christ

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The $20 Pay It Forward

doorA good friend of LOTW recently had his house broken into. Many of his family’s valuables were stolen, such as their TV, computers, and cameras. This is the story of how in a time of distress he was still able to see God in a stranger and help them out. Can we do the same for him? Read the story below, and click on the link here if you would like to help offset the expenses of cleaning up and fixing his home.

It is Friday – for that I am thankful. It has been a rather long week. Monday I came home to find the front door kicked in, all of the electronics along with my guitar and a handful of personal affects stolen…and every closet, cabinet and drawer spilled all over the floor – the house, with the exception of my daughters’ room and my icon/prayer corner were completely ransacked.

It was a very long night that first evening. The police spent some time at the house and after they left, I had to secure the front door for the night until it could be permanently fixed. The girls were scared and they did not sleep well. They both woke up in the middle of the night several times as I slept beside them. At one point, they were crying and I took them in my arms and told them, “I love you and I am not going to let anything happen to you. We are safe and God is with us.” Then I prayed over them and they fell asleep in my arms. I remained vigilant through the night.

The next day, I had a monitored alarm system installed in the house using my employee discount as I work for a security company. I really should have had that done when we moved in last year.

I also took an inventory of the things I knew were stolen for certain: The TV, my electric guitar, BluRay player, Google Nexus tablet, Atrix mini-tablet, iPod touch, cell phone, my desktop PC, the laptop, my daughter’s laptop, my coin jar, my CRKT Kit Carson knife, my DSLR camera and lenses. We didn’t have much, but they took what we did have. To add insult to injury, they trashed nearly the entire house and the clean-up is still ongoing. I rent the house and sadly I had no renter’s insurance – I am in the process of remedying that now.

On Tuesday, I went to WalMart to get some blinds for the windows and some opaque curtain panels for the back door. We have sheer drapes which are wonderful for letting the light in, but we had no blinds which meant that at night, anyone could come to the back and side of the house and see everything in the living room and kitchen.

As I wandered the aisles at WalMart, I began to lament this entire thing. I was tired and sad that this happened and especially that my daughters were scared and that their things were stolen. We do not have much, but we were very thankful for what we did have. So as I felt a bit of sadness creep in, I began to think about how it was going to be a very long time before we could ever replace such things. We were already trying to save up for a new bed as ours is small and old and is hard to sleep in. How was I going to replace the things that were stolen – now my daughters weren’t going to be able to do one of our favorite family traditions – Movie Night – where we all sat on the couch and watched a movie together – or hopped on the bed and watched a movie on the computer while we all cuddled together.

As I pulled out of the parking lot at WalMart, I saw a woman standing at the end of the side road – she had two small children with her about the same age as my daughters. She held a cardboard sign which read: “Running out of food. God please help us” – I had a $20 bill and that was about all I had left. I pulled out thinking that someone was surely going to help this woman and her kids. And as soon as I thought that, I instantly turned my car into the small parking lot next to where they were standing. I got out of my car and walked across the street and handed her the $20 bill. She said, “What? Are you sure?!” I said, “I just had my house broken into last night and they took so much of our stuff and they trashed the place. I have two daughters about the same age as your kids. When we get home tonight, the one thing we have is food. When we run out of food I can get more food. They never go hungry and they do not have to worry about going hungry. We will not be able to watch TV or get on the computer because those things were stolen. But my children will have food tonight and so will yours. I was feeling sorry for myself and asking God why this happened. Then there you were with your children standing here asking God for help because you were running out of food. I am selfish way too often…and I almost passed you all by. But I do not want your kids going hungry. I wish I could do more, but I hope this helps a little.”

She began to cry and said, “Why are people so mean to each other? Why would someone do that to you and your girls? I am so sorry. What is your name?” I said, “My name is Matthew…and it’s ok, we are all safe and it’s just stuff.” She said, “Matthew, my name is Sarah and I am going to pray for you guys.” I said, “Thank you, Sarah (then I got a bit teary eyed). We are going to pray for you all as well.”

We hugged and I said, “Never forget that God loves you and your children. And there are resources and place you can go for help so you guys do not have to be hungry.” Sarah said, “We’ve been to a couple of those places but right now I do not have a car and I don’t want to lose my kids. But I will go there if it gets really bad.” I drove home feeling foolish for being despondent about what happened to us.

After I finished installing the blinds and curtains, I took a small break to have a bite to eat. As I was looking at my Facebook, I saw a message from a friend – it was time-stamped a few hours earlier – at the same time God put Sarah in my path, a friend sent me the following message:

“Would the girls like my Kindle Fire? It’s a couple of years old, but I don’t use it very often. It might as well be loved. and we have a small flat screen tv around here somewhere we want you to have once we find it. Ian is digging through the basement right now. Also, while we’re at it, might you like a dog, three cats, and a bunny? “

You see, we met some wonderful people in our catechesis classes a few months ago – Amy and Ian Henry. And Amy had sent me this message. What they saw as a way to help by giving us some small things they weren’t using, I saw as a gift of love that is beyond price. Sarah and her children were asking for God to help them as they stood on a corner in the cold hoping somehow…some way…to be able have food that day. I was sullen because my material items…luxuries all…were stolen and my sense of peace was violated and my girls were scared. And Amy and Ian were at the very same time showing us an act of friendship and love and answering a prayer I had prayed for my children. How moving it is that the love of God is manifest in often beautiful and mysterious ways.

Thank you to Sarah and her children, for being vessels of God’s love – I am praying for you and your children wherever you may be. Thank you to Amy and Ian and their family for loving us and for the precious gift of their friendship. I am forever thankful to God for all of you – my dear family and friends, not just during difficult days, but during the days of happiness – regardless of circumstance, I appreciate and love all of you.

If you would care to help, please click the link to donate whatever you can.

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Team Jack

The 2013 ESPY Awards - Backstage

“Jack Hoffman is a 7-year old boy, born and raised in Atkinson, Nebraska (pop. 1,100). He has been a Nebraska Cornhusker football fan his entire life. In 2010, for Jack’s 5th birthday, his parents took him to his first Husker game. His Mom and Dad (Bri & Andy) purchased a Rex Burkhead No. 22 jersey (a fan favorite) for him, for the game. Jack is no different than any other little boy growing up in the great state of Nebraska–he loves to play sports, ride bike, fish, hunt, and watch Cornhusker football. Jack Hoffman also has a brain tumor.

Jack has undergone surgery for the removal of the brain tumor next to his brain stem. Only a small amount of the tumor could be removed. The remaining tumor was declared inoperable. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall months of 2011, Jack battled the onset of Secondary Epilepsy–a condition brought on by the tumor. During this time, Jack suffered frequent partial seizures, sometimes up to eleven per day. The seizures persisted despite high dosages of two anti-seizure medications.

Specialists at Children’s Hospital in Boston were consulted in August 2011.A  Pediatric Neurosurgeon indicated that she felt she could safely resect the remaining tumor, and at the same time, achieve seizure relief by using intraoperative electrocorticography. Jack’s 2nd brain surgery in 5 months occurred in Boston on October 10, 2011. The surgery went well, as the doctor removed a golf ball sized tumor. Approximately 95% of the tumor was removed, with the exception of a small spot near the brain stem and cerebral artery. Another result of this surgery was the fact that Jack was made seizure free, as well.  Unfortunately, soon after surgery, the remaining “spot” grew aggressively and chemotherapy was then commenced.

Before the second life-threatening brain surgery, the family reached out to the University of Nebraska to see if Jack could meet Rex Burkhead before his surgery. As a result, the University extended an invitation to Jack and his family to make the 4 hour drive to the Stadium. During this September 2011 visit, Rex spent several hours with Jack and his family—giving them a tour, having lunch together, and just hanging out. This one experience evolved into a remarkable friendship between a 6-year old boy and a major college football player. During the 2011 campaign, Rex wore a wristband that said: “Team Jack-Pray.” Rex’s support landed him the Rare Disease Champion Award presented by Uplifting Athletes. Rex’s benevolence has helped place pediatric brain cancer on the national agenda.

Jack’s Mom and Dad are determined to help find an effective cure for pediatric brain cancer. As a result they partnered with CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, a national non-profit foundation which funds children’s cancer research. In 2012 and winter of 2013, the family was raising money for the “Team Jack Legacy Fund,” a designated CureSearch research fund they created.  The family has now taken another step, and with the help of friends and colleagues, they have formed the “Team Jack Foundation.” All money raised through the Team Jack Foundation will support pediatric brain cancer research.”¹

This ordeal has affected many in the state of Nebraska as the relationship between the team and Jack became more publicized. He has been at many of the games on the sidelines and Rex has been in constant contact with him and his family even after being drafted into the NFL. One of the most publicized things to have happened during this time is the following video that went on to win an ESPY award.

I cannot help but be in awe of the generosity and love that has been shown to this family by the entire state of Nebraska. We hear about so many of the wrongs committed by athletes; rarely do we hear about these uplifting stories that create a real community, often under the guidance and watchful eye of God.

¹ Condensed from About Jack Hoffman.

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Jared Hall is a convert to Orthodoxy and a struggling sinner. He is married to a wonderful, natural-minded, woman and together with their two toddler boys, they are trying to make sense of this world. For this reason he chose St Brendan as his patron. He is a blue collar libertarian and passionate about birth rights, raising backyard chickens, a good scotch, and great conversations. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Modern Iconodulism

1-Homeless-ManMuch has been made of the “Don’t feed the homeless” scandal in Florida, and  the recent battle to overturn these misguided laws (see Jamey Bennett’s post). But it is that time of year again that we take the time to be thankful for all that we have—and even all that we do not have. Let us contemplate our Life in Christ and how it can be so much richer. One way to fulfill our duties to Christ is to remember those who are less fortunate than us. We can help in a soup kitchen, supply winter coats to the homeless and/or needy. We can donate our time to help the sick, or even just be their friend. We can pick up the tab or help pay a small bill.  Sometimes, simply taking the time to say hello and ask how somebody is doing can go a long ways. Remember anything can help those who are struggling through life.

“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:40

Remember also, that though in the fasting periods we are called to increase our almsgiving, we can—and should—help our fellow man in what ever ways we can at all times.

This is going to be a new series called “Triumphant Tuesday.” We will be sharing stories where people have looked beyond the easy-to-do and have instead done what can so often be very difficult: they saw God in their fellow man and decided to help.

 

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Jared Hall is a convert to Orthodoxy and a struggling sinner. He is married to a wonderful, natural-minded, woman and together with their two toddler boys, they are trying to make sense of this world. For this reason he chose St Brendan as his patron. He is a blue collar libertarian and passionate about birth rights, raising backyard chickens, a good scotch, and great conversations. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

The Ancient Faith Prayer Book


AFPrayerBookI was recently mailed a copy of the new Ancient Faith Publishing prayer book, The Ancient Faith PRAYER BOOK compiled by Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou. Much has already been said about the language style that was chosen for the prayers, so I will be brief in my summary of this detail. If you are one who prefers “Thy” and “Thine,” then this book is not for thee. While a few have argued that the use of a more modern English ruins the formality of prayer, I have only to say that it is my humble belief that this misses the point to prayer. While my favorite prayer book that I have run across is the Old Ritualist prayer book from an Old Believer church in Erie, PA, this is a great copy, especially for beginners and those new to an Orthodox prayer rule, helped in my opinion by the modern language.

Now that I have addressed the most common issue with the prayer book, I will simply point out that the contents are wonderful. The prayers themselves have been truncated lightly. By this I mean that you will not find the full length morning prayers found in the Jordanville, for example. But for those who are short on time or again, who are new to the Orthodox style of prayer, this is no problem. The prayer book contains the common morning, afternoon, mealtime, and evening prayers, as well as those for pre- and post-communion, and confession.

What I really like about this prayer book is the added little prayers for random occasions. My wife is a doula, so I was very pleased to find prayers for pregnant women, for a woman undergoing a difficult labor, and for the husband and wife after the birth of their child. Also included are prayers for beginning and ending work, for those who are sick, and many other prayers for certain occasions. Some of these can be found in other prayer books, but the compilation here I find to be very pleasant.

Another nice touch is the addition of prayers of the Saints, including Aidan of Lindisfarne, the breastplate of St. Patrick, and a personal favorite right now is the prayers of St John Chrysostom for every hour of the day.

Again, if you are one to value a rigorous prayer rule or an older English language, I would shy away from this prayer book as your go to. But for travel or the need for a shortened prayer time, I recommend this book. This is also a great copy to give to those who are new to the Church, as it will be a great introduction to the beauty that can be found in the prayer life of the Orthodox.

Simply put, this is a great addition for anybody to have in their prayer corners.

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Jared Hall is a convert to Orthodoxy and a struggling sinner. He is married to a wonderful, natural-minded, woman and together with their two toddler boys, they are trying to make sense of this world. For this reason he chose St Brendan as his patron. He is a blue collar libertarian and passionate about birth rights, raising backyard chickens, a good scotch, and great conversations. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

An American Saint Faces the Communists

F-barnabas

Bishop Barnabas (Varnava Nastich), was born in Gary, Indiana in 1914. In the nine years he lived there, he gained an outstanding appreciation for our love of freedom. Eventually, he moved to Serbia, from where his parents had come. In Serbia, St. Barnabas worked diligently against the Communists regime and was eventually brought to trial in spite of his position in the Orthodox Church. Here is part of the transcript of his interrogation for allegedly spying for the United States. Try to imagine yourself in the courtroom.

‘Q. What do you have to say?

A. All your accusations are inventions and false. I tell you, I am not afraid. You may kill me, but that is not important. The Serbian people are against you and all the civilized world despises you. You have already lost the war.
(The courtroom cheered the prisoner.{!!})

Q. You are reported to have said that the regime in Yugoslavia is atheistic, that violence and crime have the upper hand and there is urgent need for action to remove the tyranny. Did you speak in this manner?

A. Yes, and more than that. I have spoken what all the people are speaking, feeling and desiring.

Q. Do you believe that Americans will come to overthrow the present regime?

A. I believe that quite positively. And I know that our people will meet the Americans with cheers as a liberating army.

Q. Did you speak to the farmers that they will be better off when the Americans come?

A. In substance I did say that to them. And the same I say to you here and now.

In a long question the bishop was charged with being in contact with anti-Tito Chetniks in the hills of Praca and Rogatica.

A. Not a word will I say about those brave men in the free hills who are ready every moment to lay down their lives for their ideals and those of their people.

(The approving uproar was so great that the judges ordered the courtroom cleared.)

The prosecutor produced a letter, purportedly written by the bishop, in which it was stated that 1,300,000 Serbs had become innocent victims of the hammer & sickle.
Q. Did you write this letter, and do you think this statement is true?

A. With my own hand I wrote it. The only thing that might be incorrect in that statement is the number of victims. For, since I wrote that letter, you have killed very many more people. Therefore, I say, only the number might be incorrect.’

In the end the bishop’s legs were manacled, and, clanking his new chains, he was taken off to eleven years of labor in the prison ironworks of Zenica. St Barnabas was released in 1951, eight years early – though he always remained under government surveillance. He “died suddenly,” some say poisoned, on November 12, 1964, aged just 50.

I have always wondered what I would do if I were to be challenged as such. Like St. Polycarp, would I bless my tormentors? As my beloved St. Fevronia, would I curse them, demanding to meet my Lord? Or here, as is the case with St. Barnabas, would I stand tall, filled with the Light among the darkness, and proclaim the Truth? This is what it means to be a martyr in today’s world. If we keep current with today’s events, we see our brothers and sisters faced with this same challenge day in and day out in Ukraine, Egypt, and now in Iraq and Syria with ISIS/ISIL/IS, just to name a few. (I’ll leave the non-fatal persecutions up to the reader to piece together.) And they are answering the call many times over, while we sit here reading our books, watching our screens and playing our games. How do we show that we care? Can drawing a ‘nun’ on our house or changing our profile picture on social media sites change the course of history, or is it merely a soon-to-die fad? We are called to walk with the Lord, our God, and we must be willing to die in order to do so, like so many before us. In fact we MUST die daily.

Holy Saint Barnabas, the New Confessor, pray to God for us! And may the Lord bless all those who stand firm in their faith when it is surely death that they face.

This post originally appeared on Death To the World

Page Divider for Author Bios

Jared Hall is a convert to Orthodoxy and a struggling sinner. He is married to a wonderful, natural-minded, woman and together with their two toddler boys, they are trying to make sense of this world. For this reason he chose St Brendan as his patron. He is a blue collar libertarian and passionate about birth rights, raising backyard chickens, a good scotch, and great conversations. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

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