Phillips Brooks vs. Catherine of Siena

Today’s match-up features two saintly souls with devilish potential for misspellings. Calling Phillips Brooks “Philip” is like calling Johns Hopkins “John” while spelling Catherine’s home of Siena with two “n’s” rather than one is like spelling Saint Monnica with one “n” rather than two. Wait, what? Anyway, there’s a lot of spelling on the line in today’s match-up.

Yesterday, besides hearing Lent Madness featured on NPR, Lydia sent John of the Cross to Dark Night of the Soul redux 58% to 42%. It was a bad day for snails but something tells us we’ll be hearing more about escargot during the Saintly Kitsch Round when Lydia faces Basil the Great.

unnamedPhillips Brooks

A dozen years ago Ellen Wilbur, a short story writer and member of Trinity Church, Copley Square in Boston, sought out Phillips Brooks’ sermons. A search yielded fragile, incomplete copies, some of which fell apart in her hands.

“I’d never read a book of sermons in my life, and now wanted to read nothing but Phillips Brooks. There was something wondrous about the loving voice with which he spoke and the utter faith which underlay and glorified all of his preaching,” Wilbur wrote in the preface to a collection of sermons she edited in 2003 titled The Consolations of God.

Peter Gomes, the late professor at Harvard Divinity School, wrote in the book’s foreword, “Even in print, and at the remove of a century, Brooks sounds well, which is no small thing when few sermons last beyond lunchtime.”

In one sermon Brooks inspired people to serve God whatever their station in life, not least, perhaps, his wealthy Back Bay parishioners.

Strike God’s iron on the anvil, see God’s goods across the counter, put God’s wealth in circulation, teach God’s children in the school— so shall the dust of your labor build itself into a little sanctuary where you and God may dwell together.

If you are not spiritually minded, do not wait for mysterious light and vision. Go and give up your dearest sin. Go and do what is right. Go and put yourself thoroughly into the power of the holiness of duty.

All the world is an utterance of the Almighty.

Brooks seemed not to worry about the scholarly detractors who dismissed him as an intellectual lightweight. Gomes wrote,  “Brooks consistently practiced biblical preaching…he understood that part of his task was to open the treasures of the Scriptures to his people; and it was his pastoral concern for the human condition and its relationship to the eternal truths of the Christian gospel that made him a biblical preacher and not merely an orator on religious themes.”

In lectures at Yale, Brooks was famous for positing that preaching is “truth through personality.” He said, “the personality of the  teacher invad[ing] the personality of the scholar, bringing the personal Christ to the personal human nature.”

Brooks was a rare breed of priest: a standing-room-only preacher and a deeply caring pastor, something people of all faiths and classes recognized. In 1893, after serving only 15 months as bishop, Brooks died, and the city of Boston grieved. M.C. Ayers, editor of the Boston Daily Advertiser, wrote after his funeral, “It was the people who were quickest to discern the incomparable worth of Phillips Brooks. They knew him, flocked to him, loved and trusted him.”

As usual, it comes down to love. Brooks knew he was entirely beloved of God and thus free to bestow upon his people lavish attention and words to stir their hearts to serve God.

Brooks once said, “Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.”

Heidi Shott

unnamedCatherine of Siena

Catherine of Siena, the 14th century mystic, politician, carer for the poor, and all-around saintly all-star, was an overachiever on several fronts.

She was only seven when she had her first vision of Christ, but her visions kicked into high gear when she was in her mid twenties. She received the stigmata when the crucifix she was praying in front of exploded with five red beams of light, which pierced her hand, feet and heart. That same year, she had a vision in which Jesus appeared, and seemed to exchange her beating heart for his. When she received the Eucharist, she saw the bread become the Child Jesus floating down from heaven to earth to rest in the priest’s hands. Once, when she gave the usual response to receiving the host (“Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof”), she heard a voice respond, “But I am worthy to enter you.” As she received the bread, she said later that her soul merged with God so that “the soul is in God and God in the soul, just as the fish is in the sea and the sea in the fish.”

But all this vision-having did not make her popular with the local clergy of her time, most of whom found her befuddling, even frustrating. One Franciscan, Fr. Lazzarino, was very bothered by her, and sought a meeting to explain why she was Doing Faith Wrong. This did not go well for him, since meeting Catherine in person, and asking for her prayers, caused an acute attack of guilt that evening. He realized that he had not been following the Franciscan path as he had vowed as a youth, and he raced back to Catherine the next morning to apologize, and to give away all he owned to the poor.

As Catherine’s reputation as a great persuader spread, she was sought out by popes and politicians as well — and not just for guilt trips. She was a sought-after counsel to two popes, including Urban VI. She and Urban had such a close relationship that she would chide him frequently to curb his arrogance, and he insisted that she come to Rome to help him lead the Vatican.

After her death at age 33 in Rome, the people of Siena wanted to bring her body back home to be honored. One man from Siena tried to bring back just her head, but was stopped at the Roman gates by soldiers. He prayed to St. Catherine, and miraculously, when the bag was inspected, it had transformed into rose petals. To this day, Catherine’s head (and thumb) reside in Siena, and her body resides in Rome.

Megan Castellan


Phillips Brooks vs. Catherine of Siena

  • Phillips Brooks (53%, 2,631 Votes)
  • Catherine of Siena (47%, 2,323 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,954

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108 Comments to "Phillips Brooks vs. Catherine of Siena"

  1. Ginger Challis's Gravatar Ginger Challis
    April 3, 2014 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    Wow.. this was a hard choice today… wish I could have voted for both….

    • Lesley's Gravatar Lesley
      April 3, 2014 - 9:50 am | Permalink

      Me too!

  2. April 3, 2014 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    “If you are not spiritually minded, do not wait for mysterious light and vision. Go and give up your dearest sin. Go and do what is right. Go and put yourself thoroughly into the power of the holiness of duty. All the world is an utterance of the Almighty.” Yep!

    • Scott Elliott's Gravatar Scott Elliott
      April 3, 2014 - 8:43 am | Permalink

      Oh, Cynthia, I came here to vote for Catherine. And you had to repost that!

    • Pam Sten's Gravatar Pam Sten
      April 3, 2014 - 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Also going for Phillips Brooks. Hard choice, but here’s my rationale: Lent Madness is an Episcopal priest’s creation. Brooks was an Anglican priest. Catherine was Roman Catholic. (That will no doubt bring on the comments!) Besides, the quote of Brooks is very inspiring to this parish priest and hopefully to others. I don’t fully grasp stigmata nor heads and thumbs separated from the body.

  3. Joy's Gravatar Joy
    April 3, 2014 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    Oooh…another hard choice. Went with Catherine of Siena. Imagine! A woman in the 14th century being sought out by popes for counsel! She must have had such presence, such faith. (Besides, I’ve seen her head and thumb and have never gotten that image out of my mind – perhaps this vote will do it.)

  4. Gail Davis's Gravatar Gail Davis
    April 3, 2014 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    Tough choice. I love Brooks dearly, but had to go Catherine. How many people care for the poor AND get a Stigmata?

    • Martha Frances's Gravatar Martha Frances
      April 4, 2014 - 2:12 am | Permalink

      Duh, Francis of Assisi?

      • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
        April 4, 2014 - 6:49 am | Permalink

        Going off topic here again……wow…..we sure do have some night owls here don’t we? I just got up. It’s 6:48 am here. Good morning y’all 🙂

  5. Gail Davis's Gravatar Gail Davis
    April 3, 2014 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    Tough choice. I love Brooks dearly, but had to go Catherine. How many people care for the poor AND get a Stigmata?

  6. Katherine Grimes's Gravatar Katherine Grimes
    April 3, 2014 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    I just broke a tie! That’s a first for me on Lent Madness. If I weren’t named “Katherine” (after two great-grandmothers and my mother; my niece is the fifth Katherine in our family), this would have been a harder choice.

  7. Marj's Gravatar Marj
    April 3, 2014 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    Catherine was obviously very special but it was Philips again for me.

  8. gian's Gravatar gian
    April 3, 2014 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    ¡Qué horror! Body dismemberment is a terrible thing. Many Christians still today have that need to keep something from the body of the dead saint. Just look at what happened with the blood of Karol Wojtyla. Distasteful!

    • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
      April 3, 2014 - 9:16 am | Permalink

      I’m with you, gian — I greatly admire what Catherine did while alive (remarkable ministry of speaking truth to power!) but keeping dead saint bits on display is a practice I just do not understand. Voting Brooks today for bringing The Word to The People, and because I’d never heard of him before LM and now I greatly admire him, too. (I really hope he’s not in a glass coffin somewhere…)

      • gian's Gravatar gian
        April 3, 2014 - 9:54 am | Permalink

        I hope he is not. I had never heard about him either before. Well, that’s one of the purposes of Lent Madness, isn’t it?

      • April 3, 2014 - 1:22 pm | Permalink

        Jennifer and Gian, Have you ever sung O Little Town of Bethlehem?

        • gian's Gravatar gian
          April 3, 2014 - 4:35 pm | Permalink


          • Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
            April 3, 2014 - 4:38 pm | Permalink

            That is amazing!! I just assumed everyone at some point had heard and sung O Little of Bethlehem.

        • gian's Gravatar gian
          April 3, 2014 - 4:35 pm | Permalink


      • Martha Frances's Gravatar Martha Frances
        April 4, 2014 - 2:11 am | Permalink

        His statue is outside the church on Copley Square & it’s a proper statue–none of this dismembered body parts stuff!

  9. aleathia (dolores)nicholson's Gravatar aleathia (dolores)nicholson
    April 3, 2014 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    I guess I’m not too mystically inclined. A good, solid sermon has the potential to do more good for plain, ordinary people seeking salvation and Brooks was that rare preacher able to do just that. Catherine was just too “out there” for me this morning and I haven’t had my caffeine infusion anyway, so that might account for my choice. Maybe just reading again about the good Bishop is a sign for me as I’ve made no spelling errors.

    • Ginny's Gravatar Ginny
      April 3, 2014 - 9:17 am | Permalink

      You know, I was reading about Catherine and wondering if she wasn’t mentally ill. I guess I was really thinking she was just too “out there” for me. Thanks for the insight.

      • jenn's Gravatar jenn
        April 3, 2014 - 2:13 pm | Permalink

        I wondered the same thing about if Catherine might be mentally ill, after having noticed that the word “mystic” was used to describe her, and it was also used to describe Catherine the Astonishing and for her, it was clearly stated she was mentally ill, but the use of the word “mystic” for both is what made me wonder. Catherine got my vote because of her work helping the poor. her mental health is more of a curiousity then a factor into my vote.

  10. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    April 3, 2014 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    I had to stick with my original vote, while it’s certainly not the only reason, “o little town of Bethlehem” is one of my all time favorite Christmas songs!
    Hopefully this will snap my losing streak…….”duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.”
    Well said to put it mildly! 🙂

    • Peggy's Gravatar Peggy
      April 3, 2014 - 9:19 am | Permalink

      That last line made my choice for me.

      • April 3, 2014 - 10:06 am | Permalink

        And me … there are those through whom love pours. The preacher gets my vote today.

  11. April 3, 2014 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    Brooks gets my vote. Perhaps it is because I was baptized by one of his nephews. Or that my husband was baptized in Trinity Copley Square, which Brooks helped raise up. But mostly, I think it is because of his focus on God’s love and our role in taking that love out into the world.

  12. Ann Fleming's Gravatar Ann Fleming
    April 3, 2014 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    “Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.” Brooks!

  13. Betsy Heilman's Gravatar Betsy Heilman
    April 3, 2014 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    The rose petals tipped the balance, Catherine it is. Tough choice though.

  14. Trish Cunningham's Gravatar Trish Cunningham
    April 3, 2014 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    No can vote. But thank you so much for sharing guidance from these two saints.

  15. Bowman's Gravatar Bowman
    April 3, 2014 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    Two real saints.

    What I love about both of them is that both transcended their times through inner convictions of God’s reality so directly shaping their dealings with others that their gifts became contagious, enabling them to act in their wider worlds in ways otherwise impossible.

    What I enjoy about the choice is the contrast of piety and scale. Phillips Brooks’s encounters with the God who spoke to him in scripture grounded the assurance of God’s love that made him a ‘little christ’ (Luther’s phrase) in a definite place– his parish in Boston’s Back Bay and its wider social connections. His sermons leave no doubt of his love for the voice that he heard in the Word. In him as in other pastor-saints, we see the intensive cultivation of a small garden.

    St Catherine’s capacity for framing her life as participation in Christ is what drives all the rest– her refusal of marriage, her vocation as a lay associate of the Dominicans, her theologically rich visions, her interventions in papal politics. She was an authentic ascetic cultivating an interior life, though not shy about wielding the power that this could bring in the middle ages.

    There is nothing wrong with susceptibility to either contagion.

  16. Another Peg's Gravatar Another Peg
    April 3, 2014 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    “Go and give up your dearest sin.” Today I lost my head for Brooks. You understand, Catherine…

  17. Walter Gladwin's Gravatar Walter Gladwin
    April 3, 2014 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    Mysticism does nothing for me. Maybe for some of you. I identify myself more as Phillips who seems more Christ the Man than Cathererine the Spirit.

  18. Donna Richardson's Gravatar Donna Richardson
    April 3, 2014 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    How does one get to be a saint in the Episcopal Church? I understand the arduous process in the Catholic Church, but I find myself asking who canonized Bach (and some others). Nonetheless, have really enjoyed learning about holy people I have never known before.

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      April 3, 2014 - 10:30 am | Permalink

      General Convention approves

      • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
        April 3, 2014 - 10:55 am | Permalink

        Wait! I meant to say more! Okay, General Convention approves who gets on the Calendar. The procedure for this is explained in “Holy Women, Holy Men” (take note, partisans of Fred Rodgers!). Beginning on page 742 are the “Guidelines and Procedures for Continuing Alteration of the Calendar of the Episcopal Church”. This describes the steps that must be taken to add a new commemoration to the Calendar of Saints. The bishop of my own diocese (Arizona) has proposed two missionaries for inclusion in the Calendar: Eusebio Kino, a 17th century Italian Jesuit, and Endicott Peabody, a 19th century Episcopal priest. They were both active in Arizona. I don’t know who proposed Bach for the Calendar. Probably some organist.

        • Lucretia Jevne's Gravatar Lucretia Jevne
          April 3, 2014 - 2:49 pm | Permalink

          Bach doesn’t even have his own “day in the sun” as he shares his day with Henry Percell and Handel, July 28. Catherine of Siena has her own day April 29 as does Phillips Brooks Jan. 23. Doesn’t make the choice any easier!

          • Victor of Sturbridge's Gravatar Victor of Sturbridge
            April 3, 2014 - 3:47 pm | Permalink

            Traditionally, a saint is commemorated on the date of his or her entrance into the Life Eternal, which for Bach is 28 July. By this standard, Handel should fall on 14 April and Purcell on 21 November, but I’m grateful that we got them in at all!
            As to the preceding rather snippy remark, “Probably some organist,” yes, I’m a professional harpsichordist and organist, but my audiences, who love Bach, are mostly not organists — just people who like to hear great music played by someone who likes to play it.

    • April 3, 2014 - 1:41 pm | Permalink

      I know Bach is on the ELCA’s (and other Lutheran denomination’s) calendar of saints – but we don’t call it canonization. The process is similar to what is in the Episcopal Church. I believe he is on the Episcopal calendar as well.

      • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
        April 3, 2014 - 6:26 pm | Permalink

        Bach is indeed on the Episcopal Calendar as well. And Lou, if I may include in my reply to you an answer to Victor of Sturbridge: I’m sorry if you thought I was being snippy when I wrote “Probably some organist.” I didn’t mean it that way. I, too love Bach’s music and I voted for him when he was up against Anna Cooper.

  19. Lauren Stanley's Gravatar Lauren Stanley
    April 3, 2014 - 9:25 am | Permalink

    “Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.” how can you not vote for that??

  20. Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
    April 3, 2014 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    Brooks for me today. It was the quotes that did it. I will be considering anew the things I am doing. Is it duty or love?
    I have read many rants about the voting in this madness. For me it goes beyond the saintly qualifications of the candidates or even learning about them and hearing the stories. For me it is which one most helps me move closer to God today – in the circumstances I find myself in today. Keep me on your path Lord.

  21. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    April 3, 2014 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    I voted for Catherine, but I am not sad at all to see Phillips leading the race. What an inspiring duo.

  22. Derek Wyskiel's Gravatar Derek Wyskiel
    April 3, 2014 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    I’m torn! Torn like an old choir robe.

  23. Beth Ann Maier's Gravatar Beth Ann Maier
    April 3, 2014 - 9:53 am | Permalink

    “so shall the dust of your labor build itself into a little sanctuary where you and God may dwell together.”
    “she had a vision in which Jesus appeared, and seemed to exchange her beating heart for his.”
    It is hard to choose between these two, but today, I’m going for the heart transplant.

  24. Lesley's Gravatar Lesley
    April 3, 2014 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    Catherine was an incredible woman but … Bringing the word to the ordinary people means much to me. And Boston! I will try to do things “beautifully”! Thank you for Brooks!

  25. Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
    April 3, 2014 - 10:03 am | Permalink

    Once again, I gotta go with the mystics (of whom there seem to be quite a few in your roster), even though they usually seem to be on the losing side (e.g., most recently, St John of the Cross). Skeptics might question where the line is between mystical visions and hallucinations, but to the faithful, a vision is unquestionable. Catherine also shows how mystics, partly because of their visions, “do not go well” with the ecclesiastical authorities–another plus for one of anti-authoritarian inclinations.. (Lovely biog by Castellan. Thank you!)

  26. Margaret Lovett's Gravatar Margaret Lovett
    April 3, 2014 - 10:11 am | Permalink

    “Brooks consistently practiced biblical preaching…he understood that part of his task was to open the treasures of the Scriptures to his people; and it was his pastoral concern for the human condition and its relationship to the eternal truths of the Christian gospel that made him a biblical preacher and not merely an orator on religious themes.” As good as Catherine is, how can I not vote for Brooks.

  27. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    April 3, 2014 - 10:11 am | Permalink

    Although a 3 year LM veteran, for some reason this year I’m feeling more sensitive to the more modern saints being consistently chosen over the older ones. While I absolutely believe that we have saints in our modern lives and should venerate those people, I don’t think we should favor them because we may have better (and less fantastical) information about them. After all, it takes a while for legends to build up, as well as a lack of modern communication. Levitating bread etc. aside, Catherine WAS a woman whose counsel was valued by very powerful men, and that should not be ignored.

    Not to dis Phillips. My whole point is that my choice was made as something of a backlash reaction.

  28. April 3, 2014 - 10:12 am | Permalink

    Having previously supported for both of these saintly souls in the earlier voting round, I was somewhat concerned with the current matchup. However, I have elected to go with Phillips Brooks whose brother, Frederick, was the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland (now in Cleveland Heights) with which I am very much involved.

  29. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    April 3, 2014 - 10:12 am | Permalink

    Besides, I’m worried about Big Baked Beans.

    • Heidi Shott's Gravatar Heidi Shott
      April 3, 2014 - 10:26 am | Permalink

      And I was wondering what Brooks’ supporters might use as a hashtag!

  30. Diane's Gravatar Diane
    April 3, 2014 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    rose petals did it for me, besides at Cursillo I sat at the table of St. Catherine of Sienna, how could I not vote for her.

  31. Ellen Lincourt's Gravatar Ellen Lincourt
    April 3, 2014 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    I guess I’m just not that into mystics. Brooks!!!!

  32. April 3, 2014 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    “Brooks consistently practiced biblical preaching…he understood that part of his task was to open the treasures of the Scriptures to his people…”

    Since Lovely Wife’s namesake, Catherine of Alexandria, was voted out in an earlier round (Siena, Schmiena!), and since my own ministry focuses on opening “the treasures of the Scriptures” to the people I serve, I’m all for Phillips Brooks today.

  33. Lynn Bonney's Gravatar Lynn Bonney
    April 3, 2014 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    Another hard choice, but I’ll go with Phillips Brooks. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to vote for Peter Gomes!

    • rellingrw's Gravatar rellingrw
      April 3, 2014 - 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the connection with Gomes fortified my inclination to vote for Brooks. I miss Gomes and his eloquence and brilliance.

  34. April 3, 2014 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    Tough choice – both a bit weird – but preaching or visions? Hmmm.

  35. April 3, 2014 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    While Catherine was very spiritual and had amazing encounters with God, I had to vote for Phillips. His sermons touched so many more people (than her stigmata) with the command to go and serve others in His name. He spread the Gospel to the sheep God had given him and they in turn spread it further. I have to vote for one who preaches the Bible and spreads the Gospel.

  36. Anne T's Gravatar Anne T
    April 3, 2014 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    I’ll be amazed if Phillips Brooks actually wins, since some voters mention that they are choosing solely on a gender basis. He’s my vote in this case.

  37. Catherine. (Kit)'s Gravatar Catherine. (Kit)
    April 3, 2014 - 10:47 am | Permalink

    I voted for the Catherine because her name is spelled correctly. And her story is most compelling.

  38. Bernice Dicks's Gravatar Bernice Dicks
    April 3, 2014 - 10:50 am | Permalink

    I had to vote for Phillips Brooks: his great-niece, Phyllis Brooks Bartlett, was my graduate advisor at the City University of New York.

  39. Mary Ann Grennen's Gravatar Mary Ann Grennen
    April 3, 2014 - 10:50 am | Permalink

    Wow a hard choice today. But as someone mentioned earlier, a Pope consulting a woman in that day and age was unheard of. Had to go with Catherine today.

  40. Connie Keller's Gravatar Connie Keller
    April 3, 2014 - 11:05 am | Permalink

    As the daughter of a faithful priest and then the wife- 56 years in June- of another I voted for the fine priest and preacher. In drama and fiction clergy seem often to get the short end of the stick and so hurray for the clergy- masle and female- who give possibility and sustenance to even themselves.

  41. Connie Keller's Gravatar Connie Keller
    April 3, 2014 - 11:06 am | Permalink

    male and female that should be

  42. Adam's Gravatar Adam
    April 3, 2014 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    10:12AM CDT and already more people have voted in today’s Lent Madness than voted in local city council elections here in my hometown on Tuesday.

  43. Evans C.'s Gravatar Evans C.
    April 3, 2014 - 11:42 am | Permalink

    I have to admit that I love the mystics, but even if I didn’t, when Catherine received the Host and responded “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, and heard a voice respond, “But I am worthy to enter you.”, and felt her soul merge with God, that got me. I feel that unworthiness every time before receiving the sacraments. To feel that Christ doesn’t care that you feel that way, and blesses you anyway is very comforting to me.

  44. Kate Guistolise's Gravatar Kate Guistolise
    April 3, 2014 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Really, really tough call! I have the greatest respect for Phillips Brooks’ ethos – but Catherine & her influence with the popes in that time and place… Also great quotes from both of them
    I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that my deciding factor was that my mother named me after Catherine, and I’m truly afraid that she’d make a visit from heaven just to yell at me – don’t laugh – those of you who have met her know that she would! Wish I could have split my vote… Or being from Cook County, voted twice – but I didn’t!

  45. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    April 3, 2014 - 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Once again, I voted for both of them in round one, and I was very impressed by Catherine’s being called to have influence with two popes, but today Phillips Brooks spoke more to me. Nothing against mystics, yesterday I voted for John of the Cross.

  46. Carol Virginia's Gravatar Carol Virginia
    April 3, 2014 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Having misspelled an important name in this fair game, I come to make amen(d)s.
    My vote today goes to the family namesake of our family friend Peter Brooks. He is a
    Harvard, Yale and Princeton scholar and prolific writer. Although, Peter might well vote for Catherine, I vote for Phillips Brooks, hands down. Peter told us his great grandfather
    was Captain of the first ferryboat to and from Faulkner’s lighthouse in L.I.Sound, in the
    1800’s. That alone might qualify for sainthood, but I suspect Peter has other greats in his ancestral chart. But that’s not all, Philips (oops) Phillips philosophy persuades. Amen.

  47. aleathia (dolores)nicholson's Gravatar aleathia (dolores)nicholson
    April 3, 2014 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Lynn Bonney…you spoke to my heart and soul as I, too, await the day Peter Gomes becomes eligible to be in Lent Madness. Then it will truly be a contest no matter against whom he is pitted.

  48. Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
    April 3, 2014 - 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I must admit that Catherine of Sienna is an interesting character, but I must stick with Philips Brooks this round. Every time I read the prayer on Forward By Day, I feel a great sense of happiness and blessing. I also have a hard time believing that any Pope would have asked for help from any woman back then and even today!!

  49. Ann Shelly's Gravatar Ann Shelly
    April 3, 2014 - 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I love the “gentle” priest.

  50. Karen's Gravatar Karen
    April 3, 2014 - 1:35 pm | Permalink

    “Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.”
    These words were the deciding factor for me today.

  51. April 3, 2014 - 1:55 pm | Permalink

    The hardest decision yet as both have special places in my heart! But Brooks won by being and doing the “best” that he could due for his flock!

  52. Kathy's Gravatar Kathy
    April 3, 2014 - 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Phillips Brooks because I want – biblical preaching…pastoral concerns and not an orator on religious themes.

  53. Johannas Jordan's Gravatar Johannas Jordan
    April 3, 2014 - 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful thoughtful discussion today, in my humble opinion. When the contest is close sometimes the only way to decide is to use not very important criteria, e.g.. who has a same name. Seems a good way to decided between “equals”. Which is what I did. Boston is one of the places of my soul and home of the Bruins, Celtics, and Red Socks or Sox depending.

    • Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
      April 3, 2014 - 3:43 pm | Permalink

      What about the NE Patriots?!!

  54. Heather C's Gravatar Heather C
    April 3, 2014 - 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I don’t mean to sound crabby, but the voting may be more fair in 2015 if the SEC only puts Americans born after 1800 into the brackets. First Bach, and now Catherine? Sigh.

  55. J's Gravatar J
    April 3, 2014 - 3:06 pm | Permalink

    It’s Catherine all the way – a “doctor of the church” and a Dominican!
    PS until 2012 there were only two female doctors of the church, Catherine and Theresa if Avila. In 2012 the pope named one of my favorite saints, Hildegard of Bingen, a new doctor of the church. I’m sure whoever speculated that Catherine was mentally ill (being hungry can lead to hallucinations, ya know) would speculate the same about Hildegard. The bios today do not do justice to Catherine’ s preaching, if preachers are the elect. Catherine, like Hildegard, was sought out by princes and paupers alike for her counsel.

  56. LJ Graf's Gravatar LJ Graf
    April 3, 2014 - 3:09 pm | Permalink

    I belong to a Daughters of the King chapter namded for Catherine of Siena. As several others have mentioned, Brooks’ statement, “Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully” was the deciding factor.

    Sorry to disappoint you, Carol T.

  57. Sam's Gravatar Sam
    April 3, 2014 - 3:44 pm | Permalink

    My vote for Phillips Brooks is vengeance for Catherine of Siena’s defeat of my predicted winner, Catherine of Alexandria!

  58. Claudia Horner's Gravatar Claudia Horner
    April 3, 2014 - 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Choices, choices. Um, is Lent supposed to be this hard? Silly me,. Here I was thinking Lent Madness would be fun and easy….

  59. Mariana Bauman's Gravatar Mariana Bauman
    April 3, 2014 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I have tremendous admiration for Bishop Brooks but I don’t think the bio captures quite captures the essence of Catherine. Some of her more well known quotes:
    “There shall be love in proportion of faith and faith in proportion to love.”
    “You are rewarded not according to your works but according to the measure of your love.”
    “If you are what you should be, then you will set the world on fire.”
    My favorite -“To the true servant of God every place is the right place and every time is the right time. “
    I have to go with Catherine.

  60. Brigid Courtney's Gravatar Brigid Courtney
    April 3, 2014 - 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Yes, h ow could I not vote for the one who wrote “O Little Town of Bethlehem!” (besides having worked at Trinity Church)

  61. Corry W.'s Gravatar Corry W.
    April 3, 2014 - 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I love Catherine, but since I serve Phillips Brooks’ field education parish (All Saints-Sharon Chapel in Alexandria, Virginia) I am voting for him today. The story goes that after preaching his first sermon

  62. Corry W.'s Gravatar Corry W.
    April 3, 2014 - 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, don’t know why it went prematurely–When Phillips Brooks was a seminarian here, he preached his first sermon, but thought it went so badly that he jumped out the window by the pulpit and hastened back to seminary. To this day there is a door right by the pulpit, known as Phillips Brooks’ door. There’s a portrait of him in the narthex and a framed letter he wrote to us once…But what a preacher!

  63. Bob Mayer's Gravatar Bob Mayer
    April 3, 2014 - 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Brooks !

  64. Donald Lowery's Gravatar Donald Lowery
    April 3, 2014 - 5:24 pm | Permalink

    This was a tough one. However, since I went to VTS, I had to go with an alum. Problem is that while VTS is VERY proud of the connection of Brooks to the Holy Hill, he apparently had a very low opinion of the place. He was glad to graduate and escape. I suspect he was probably better educated and brighter than some of his professors. We forget sometimes that up until modern accreditation, many of the VTS faculty did not hold earned doctorates. They were drawn from the parish priesthood based on their assumed knowledge (wide reading) in particular areas. Phillips Brooks was a Harvard graduate and had attended a top notch Latin Academy in preparation for Harvard. His knowledge of classical languages may have exceeded that of his teachers at THE SEMINARY. Still, he went to VTS and that counts for everything.

  65. Bonnee's Gravatar Bonnee
    April 3, 2014 - 6:10 pm | Permalink

    I lit a candle at the sarcophagus of St. Catherine at Rome’s Santa Maria sopra Minerva, but despite that memory I voted for Brooks, having visited”his” churches in Boston and Philadelphia. A double connection day for me.

  66. Tim Murray's Gravatar Tim Murray
    April 3, 2014 - 7:04 pm | Permalink

    I just want to comment on what pleasure I have had reading today’s participant comments. Thank you all.

    • Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
      April 3, 2014 - 7:27 pm | Permalink

      I totally agree!!

  67. Julie McCord's Gravatar Julie McCord
    April 3, 2014 - 7:29 pm | Permalink

    My mystics are taking a consistent beating this year, and I can only sigh and remember that it is part of the dharma (if you’ll pardon my cross-religious lingo there) of the mystic to be misunderstood. Still, Catherine is a Doctor of the Church and will have my doomed vote. I hope that in the great hereafter I’ll be allowed to hang out in the green room with my bracket.

  68. jane's Gravatar jane
    April 3, 2014 - 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Catherine must have been an amazing woman to lecture a pope and then be asked to be his counsel. But, in doing some simple research on Phillips Brooks I found a connection to the man in his sayings and in his love for young people. His sense of playfulness would have made him love Lent Madness. Anyone who says,”Charity begins at home, but it shouldn’t stay there.” has a wit to make us laugh at ourselves and get moving! Phillips the large has my vote.

  69. Steve Caldwell's Gravatar Steve Caldwell
    April 3, 2014 - 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Anyone else ever visited the Basilica in Siena? The display of the relics is hardly edifying. In fact, it had the opposite effect on me. Of course that is not her fault; but I voted for Phillips anyway. In my humble opinion, excellent preaching wins over personal ecstasy. But what do I know?

  70. Sudie B's Gravatar Sudie B
    April 3, 2014 - 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Gotta go with Brooks. I remember my dad telling me that he baptized my granddaddy.

  71. Rev. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Rev. Lucy Porter
    April 3, 2014 - 9:46 pm | Permalink

    I hope it’s not too late to vote. I’ve been away from home all day for a medical appointment and a meeting of the cancer support group I co-lead at the hospital where I worked. We just got through with dinner and dishwashing.

    I had to vote for Phillips Brooks today because of his emphasis on living and acting out of love. O Little Town of Bethlehem is a plus.

  72. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    April 3, 2014 - 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Betsy….I just listened to “o little town of Bethlehem” , thank you so much
    For posting this !

  73. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    April 3, 2014 - 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Betsey, thank you so much for posting this

  74. Phil's Gravatar Phil
    April 4, 2014 - 12:05 am | Permalink

    In the Lutheran Church all of us are Saints, and sinners. The Liturgical Calendar lists various people who have contributed to the church in various ways. Bach, along with Handel, and Heinrich Schütz are recognized for their contributions to music on July 28th. There are hymnwriters, like Isaac Watts or Paul Gerhardt (the most prolific Lutheran hymnwriter, and hymn tranlators, like Catherine Winkworth and John Mason Neale, who are recognized. Also the Wesley brothers, Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, John Calvin, and even Katharina von Bora Luther (Martin’s wife) are recognized as Renewers of the Church for their part in the Reformation. And there are many, many others. These people are not “canonized” — that is a Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox declaration. But many of those included, but not all, in Lent Madness are recognized by the Lutheran Church.

  75. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    April 4, 2014 - 1:08 am | Permalink

    Have you ever been in a “thin place”? Such as the Litchfield Cathedral where the presence of God greets you as you walk in…as if God Himself is ready to listen to your prayer…as if generations of prayers permeate the walls and the space between the walls… Well, if you can decifer those fragments, good for you! Then I’d like to suggest that Catherine of Siena lived in a “thin place”; that her soul was usually close to God; and that her visions resulted from her openess to God. Some have said perhaps she was mentally ill. If that were the case, I doubt popes would seek her advice, nor would many people seek her spiritual counsel.
    Both our saintly candidates of the day were much sought after in their eras.
    I should like to have listened to each of them, but, alas!, time flies. They were both gone before I, or any of us, arrived.
    So. I wrote PB on my bracket, but I vote for C of S for her closeness with God, and her persuasive, practical advice and quotes above attributed to her.

  76. Martha Frances's Gravatar Martha Frances
    April 4, 2014 - 2:08 am | Permalink

    I feel a little disloyal to my sister Catherine, but frankly, once again I come down on her being, well, weird, tho I’m glad a couple of the popes had the counsel of a young person. The reality is that anyone whose sermons are worth reading even today (& I’ve read several just for fun–and a homiletics course I was taking) & he really got it about regular people & how to reach them. I still have to go with Phillips.

  77. Fiona Haworth's Gravatar Fiona Haworth
    April 4, 2014 - 6:54 am | Permalink

    Catherine of Siena today. At a time when women’s voices were hard to hear, perhaps God gave them visions to give them access to power that they would not otherwise have. A Doctor of the Church, advisor to popes and not above digging graves to bury the dead during a plague, plus some wonderful words left behind. (I have’ If you are what you should be you will set the world on fire’ above my desk.)

    • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
      April 4, 2014 - 7:25 am | Permalink

      Sorry Fiona, can’t resist this one:
      ……”I don’t want to set the world onnn fiiirrre”…….

      I love the Ink Spots 🙂

  78. Enrica Fleming's Gravatar Enrica Fleming
    April 4, 2014 - 9:34 pm | Permalink

    If St. Catherine of Siena, one of the greatest saints of all time can’t win, then something is drastically wrong with Lent Madness….I have lost Faith in it!

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