Matthias vs. Absalom Jones

Welcome to Day Two of Lent Madness 2016. If this is your first year playing along, congratulations! You are no longer a first-time voter. You have successfully navigated the rigors of clicking an online button. Of course, the voting is just a part of what happens during Lent Madness. The reading, the learning, the inspiration, the community that forms — both online and in person — are all part of the larger process.

In fact, you may be amazed at the number of comments. Nearly 300 yesterday! This is a big part of the full Lent Madness experience. People love to hear your thoughts about why you voted a particular way — from the profound to the frivolous. So you’re always encouraged to share and/or read the comments. Gracious online commenting? Here at Lent Madness it’s not an oxymoron!

Speaking of yesterday, Helena mowed down Monnica 62% to 38% in record voting, with nearly 9,000 votes cast. For you Lent Madness historians, that beats the previous single day record — last year’s Golden Halo round when Francis and Brigid combined for 8,257 votes. Helena will go on to face the winner of Constance vs. Dominic in the Round of the Saintly Sixteen. And speaking of future battles, if you’re curious about when your favorite saint will be up, check out the recently uploaded 2016 Matchup Calendar (deftly created by Bracket Czar Adam Thomas).

Oh, and we also reached a Facebook milestone as we crossed the 15,000 “like” mark on the Lent Madness Facebook page. If you haven’t liked it yet, help us get to our next goal: 100,000!

But today it’s a Biblical saint taking on a saintly soul who lived 1,800 years later. Matthias vs. Absalom Jones. Such is the Madness of our little online devotion…

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Helena vs. Monnica

The moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived: Lent Madness 2016 kicks off RIGHT NOW! For those who thought “Ash Thursday” would, like a desert oasis, never arrive, your penitential dreams have come true.

In any case, we’re delighted to welcome you to this year’s Saintly Smackdown with a First Round battle between Helena and Monnica. Or as we like to call it, the Matronly Meltdown®, as we open with two famous mothers doing battle (of course motherhood isn’t either one’s full claim to fame, so read on).

If you’re new to Lent Madness, welcome! You may want to check out our recent Voting 101 post which includes a step-by-step how to vote video. You can also read through the Lent Madness Glossary which highlights all sorts of phrases and terms you’ll encounter along this unique Lenten journey.

Be sure to sign up for e-mail updates on our home page so you never miss a vote, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and encourage your friends to jump into the fray. While you are on our Facebook page today, please “Check In” to Lent Madness so all your friends will know you have gone to Lent Madness.

We can assure you this will be a wild, joyful, educational, ocassionally gut-wrenching ride. Let the Madness begin!

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Happy Lent Madness Eve!

Keep Lent VoteNow that the sun has set on the Supreme Executive Committee, Ash Wednesday is morphing into Lent Madness Eve. We had our serious moment of Ash Wednesday piety, and we’re ready to sound the fanfare on tomorrow’s opening match-up, unofficially known as the Matronly Meltdown®. Helena and Monnica step into the Lent Dome and begin the 2016 Lent Madness season at precisely 8:00 am Eastern Standard Time. Read about both saints and then vote (once!).

Maybe you’re new to Lent Madness, and if so, welcome! Whether you’re here for the first time or looking for a refresher on how it all works, we encourage you to have a look at Lent Madness Voting 101, which includes the timeless classic video on voting by the mysterious Maple Anglican.

We urge you to take full part in the Madness. Leave comments here on the website. Read what others have to say. Enjoy the (mostly) friendly rivalry and trash talk on social media. During the day, check in on the website often to see how each day’s contest is going. And above all, delight in seeing how each saint was a powerful witness of Jesus Christ.

Now, we know that all over the world, people are marking Lent Madness Eve. Following Lent Madness tradition, some reports say thousands have gathered in Times Square to watch the Halo drop. As usual, others are popping non-alcoholic beverages and refraining from consuming chocolate.

We thought we’d offer a few suggestions for making your Lent Madness Eve both meaningful and safe. Here is a top ten list of activities to engage in as you keep vigil until 8:00 am EST.

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Now is the Time: An Invitation to a Holy Lent

Dear friends in Christ,

Every year, even Lent Madness pauses on this one day. On Ash Wednesday, we set aside our silliness as we are reminded of our mortality and our need of salvation. This year, more than ever, our world needs Lent and its invitation to return to Jesus Christ.

kid with ashesWe live in a world that is gripped by fear and hatred. Too many of our national leaders seem intent on steering to the low road. Time seems to be in short supply as jobs, families, and various electronic gizmos compete for our attention. Now more than ever, we need Lent.

Lent is, above all else, an invitation to turn away from those things which keep us from following Jesus — and to turn toward those things which draw us closer to our Lord and savior. As St. Paul says, “Now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!”

Now is the time for us to renounce fear, to reject hatred, and to take the more difficult high road. Now is the time to make space in our lives for prayer, study, and worship. Now is the time to look carefully at our lives and to open up our hearts to change. Thanks be to God, the church has given us an entire season to do just these things.

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Mardi Madness!

Mardi MadnessThis last day before the start of Lent has many names: Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday. But the concept remains the same. Today is the feast before the famine, the celebration before the wilderness.

Around here, though, we take a slightly different approach to the day. Today at Lent Madness we celebrate Mardi Madness! This is a day of Lent Madness evangelism; a day to share the joys of this unique Lenten discipline with the uninitiated; a time to spread the good news of Lent Madness.

The word “Shrove” in Shrove Tuesday comes from Latin scribere, to write. Eventually it became associated with confessing one’s sins the day before Lent. To shrive is to administer the sacrament of reconciliation or confession. But we at Lent Madness HQ are old school, so we like the original more literal meaning of shrive, to write. Therefore, we especially encourage you to write about Lent Madness on your friends’ Facebook walls, Twitter feeds, or driveways.

How can you participate in Mardi Madness? Oh, let us count the ways.

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Monday Madness — February 8, 2016

In the last regular episode of Monday Madness before the kickoff of Lent Madness 2016 later this week on Ash Thursday, Tim and Scott remind viewers of a timeless classic video by the mysterious Maple Anglican, the video which explains how to play and how to vote in Lent Madness. It was mentioned earlier today in Lent Madness Voting 101 on this very website. You should watch it now! While you’re in the mood, you might also want to watch a more recent video by Forward Movement staffers Hugo Olaiz and Peggy Sanchez about Lent Madness. Hugo is a Celebrity Blogger, and Peggy is a Major Fan.

By watching this week’s episode of Monday Madness, you also learn how to cope with the fact that printed Saintly Scorecards sold out. It turns out that unlimited quantities are available electronically, so go ahead and buy the scorecard for your Kindle reader, Nook thingy, or Apple iGizmo.

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Lent Madness Voting 101

vote!Around this time of year, the Supreme Executive Inbox begins to fill up with some version of “How do I play Lent Madness?” While we like to be helpful and are happy to take your calls at 3:00 am,  you should know that there are several guidelines to follow.

1) You cannot vote by mailing Tim or Scott a paper ballot — even if it’s sent by registered mail.

2) You do need access to a computer or smart phone of some kind — votes sent by carrier pigeon, while impressive, are not valid.

confused3) You’re welcome to drive to the global headquarters of Forward Movement in Cincinnati, Ohio, and verbally share your vote with the staff. It will not, however, count.

4. If you live in an exotic locale such as, say, Hawaii or the south of France or a Caribbean resort, and would like to fly Tim and Scott to your home to tell us your preference in person, that will be a valid vote.

Believe it or not, there is actually a method to this Madness. And it’s quite straightforward. Fortunately for you, a Voting 101 video was produced at the behest of the SEC in 2013 by the mysterious Maple Anglican. Even though it’s a classic, this brief video remains relevant and is a great introduction for first-time participants. As we like to say, spend four minutes now and enjoy forty days of unfettered voting fun.

Finally, remember that voting begins the day after Ash Wednesday on Thursday, February 11th — aka “Ash Thursday.” The first matchup of Lent Madness 2016 between Helena and Monnica (the matronly meltdown) will be posted at 8:00 am EST. Now go watch the video!

Top 10 Reasons Lent Madness is Better than the Super Bowl

6a0115709f071f970b013484440a95970cAh, Super Bowl Sunday. The day preachers attempt to squeeze as many football analogies into the sermon as possible. Today, as The Big Game coincides with Luke’s version of Jesus’ transfiguration, it’s clear what took place up on that mountain. After hearing the voice descend from heaven, “This is my Chosen One; listen to him!” Jesus waved a giant foam finger in the face of Peter, James, and John and yelled, “I’m number one!” That’s in the spirit of the gospel, right?

Or maybe not.

But nonetheless, we’ll still gather around our televisions for kickoff at 6:30 pm with a heaping pile of pre-Lent-so-there’s-no-guilt nachos. We’ll watch the game, live Tweet the commercials and halftime show, and pray no one gets seriously injured.

Just because we, like Americans everywhere, will watch the Super Bowl, doesn’t mean Lent Madness isn’t better. So, in the competitive spirit of the day, here are our Top 10 Reasons Lent Madness is Better than the Super Bowl…
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SEC Day!

After a rollicking, Celebrity Blogger Week, it’s time to highlight the Supreme Executive Committee. Just who are these masked (in the appropriate MMliturgical color, of course) men? Lent Madness creator Tim Schenck and Forward Movement executive director Scott Gunn form the self-appointed and, mostly, benevolent dictatorship that is the SEC.

In real life, the one word they would use to describe one another is “archnemesis.” Fortunately, for the season of Lent they engage in a 40 day and 40 night period of detente in order to pull off the world’s most popular online Lenten devotion. The moment the Easter Acclamation is announced at the Great Vigil on Easter Eve, the world returns to normal and their rivalry is revived.

Besides simply being supreme, what exactly is the role of the SEC? Well, that’s a mystery that will never fully be revealed. But Tim spends much of his time corralling Celebrity Bloggers into meeting deadlines, writing introductions to posts, and  managing the Lent Madness social media presence. Scott manages the Lentorium and helps bring to bear Forward Movement’s resources in terms of graphic design, publishing, and technology. He also heads the Voter Fraud Department (one vote!). Both Tim and Scott film award-winning Monday Madness episodes throughout Lent to keep the faithful informed and up-to-date on all things Lent Madness; determine the yearly bracket; and publicize Lent Madness by any means necessary.

Scroll down for some never-seen-before SEC Fun Facts!

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Celebrity Blogger Week: Hugo Olaiz

As a member of the staff at Forward Movement, Hugo Olaiz is the ultimate Lent Madness insider. Not bad for a first time Celebrity Blogger. There is no truth to the rumor that Tim has placed Hugo at FM, to serve as a mole into Scott’s nefarious activities. None whatsoever. Keep moving. Nothing to see here.

If you’re a first-time Lent Madness participant, you may enjoy this brief video Hugo made with fellow Forward Movement staff member Peggy Sanchez which explains the basics of how to play.

Hugo Olaiz

Hugo Olaiz is associate editor for Latino/Hispanic resources at Forward Movement. Hugo grew up in La Plata, Argentina — a country where provinces and cities are sometimes named after saints. After completing a degree in literature and classics, Hugo spent two years on mission in Paraguay. He later moved to the U.S. to do graduate studies in Spanish, linguistics, and translation, pursuing a Ph.D. in Hispanic linguistics at Berkeley, California. He later moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he became the news editor for Sunstone magazine. Upon moving to Carrboro, North Carolina, Hugo stumbled into an underground network of home-based businesses — hair styling, sewing, cooking — all run by Mexican immigrants; these contacts led him into Latino ministry and advocacy in the Diocese of North Carolina. Hugo lives in Oxford, Ohio, with his husband John-Charles Duffy and an aging beagle mix named Patches. In his spare time, he loves to entertain friends, edit Wikipedia entries, and watch opera clips on YouTube.

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