EXCLUSIVE: Lent Madness Sweeps House of Bishops

Bishop Curry with mugAs some Lent Madness fans will know, the bishops of the Episcopal Church gather a few times a year to engage in important bishop activities. Normally, those who are not bishops are not privy to exactly what goes on at these meetings, but we know it’s vital and holy, because bishops. Right now, the bishops are meeting at the Kanuga Conference Center in North Carolina. When they’re not eating world-famous Kanuga Toast, the bishops are bishoping.

The Supreme Executive Committee has placed a spy inside the House of Bishops, and we are pleased to share exclusive photos of bishops doing important bishop things. We have learned that, in fact, Lent Madness is an important part of this bishops’ meeting.

Even the Presiding Bishop has purple fever, not the kind that comes from a purple shirt, but the kind that comes from Lent Madness. See, pictured in the top-right, Bishop Michael Curry sporting a Dietrich Bonhoeffer 2016 Golden Halo winner mug (and you can get one too).

Here are some more exclusive photos showing the behind-the-scenes work of the House of Bishops.

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BREAKING: Lent Madness Panned on Facebook

As people worldwide choose today between Raymond Nonnatus and John of Nepomuk, an unseemly event has taken place to rock the placid sanctity of everybody’s favorite online Lenten devotion.

In the first great controversy of Lent Madness 2017, the Supreme Executive Committee has learned that someone gave Lent Madness a 2 out of 5 star rating on our Facebook page. This shocking development comes amid an average grade of 4.8 stars, with over 200 reviews already in.

Without using names, here is the actual review:

2 Stars — It’s fun as well as informative. I know you will enjoy reading each day’ s blog during the Lenton (sic) season. There is a diverse roster of celebrity blogers (sic).

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Raymond Nonnatus vs. John of Nepomuk

Today marks the last matchup of a full week of saintly action! Raymond Nonnatus, a 13th century Spaniard, takes on John of Nepomuk, the 14th century patron saint of Czechoslovakia.

Yesterday, in the closest vote of Lent Madness 2017 to date, Odo of Cluny held off Theodore the Studite 52% to 48%. Odo will advance to the Saintly Sixteen where he’ll face Mechtild of Magdeburg.

One point we want to stress before you start pulling levers for Raymond or John. You should know that our fabulous Celebrity Bloggers are kept to strict word counts on their write-ups. Of course so much more could be said about each saint presented in Lent Madness. If you’re curious about learning more about a particular holy soul, we encourage you to dive deeper! Often additional information gleaned by participants is shared in the comments sections below each post. Feel free to share tidbits and resources with your fellow Lent Madness pilgrims. In the next round, the Saintly Sixteen, we get into Quirks and Quotes (either by or about said saint). So fear not. The further a saint advances, the more information you’ll be given. [Here endeth the Lent Madness lesson].

Those of you who read the comments will be very familiar with Oliver–Nine Years Old. Well, we are pleased to report that Oliver’s mom sent us this picture of the boy himself, posing in front of the pictorial bracket he created for his home church, St. John’s in Stamford, CT.

Oliver With Bracket

We’ll see everybody bright and early on Monday morning for the Battle of the Augustines™ as Augustine of Canterbury squares off against Augustine of Hippo.

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Odo of Cluny vs. Theodore the Studite

How could you NOT love a matchup between a guy named Odo and another guy who is known as a Studite? Meet Odo of Cluny and Theodore the Studite (spoiler alert for those getting ready to leave a comment: autocorrect does not like “Studite.” At all.)

Yesterday, in the most lopsided battle of Lent Madness 2017, Florence Nightingale routed Anselm of Canterbury 81% to 19%. She will move on to face Henry Beard Delany in the Saintly Sixteen.

And, finally, it’s not everyday that ESPN covers that other famous bracket tournament that takes place in March. But recently ESPN radio in Louisville, Kentucky, interviewed passionate Lent Madness booster, the Rev. Katherine Doyle of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, about everyone’s favorite online Lenten devotion. Take a listen as she appeared on the Bob Valvano show. It’s a great segment which you can listen to by clicking here (the spot in question begins at 21:30 of the broadcast). Nice job!

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Anselm of Canterbury vs. Florence Nightingale

Today in Lent Madness, we will finally answer that age old question: Theologian or Nurse? Okay, there’s a lot more to Anselm of Canterbury and Florence Nightingale than these two labels, so you’ll just have to read on.

In yesterday’s action, Henry Budd left Cecilia singing the blues as the patron saint of music lost in a close battle 53% to 47%.

Shockingly (or not so shockingly if you’re a longtime Lent Madness participant), we encountered our first case of voter fraud as 546 votes for Cecilia were removed after the ever-vigilant SEC noticed a discrepancy. It was a youthful prank and said youth has since confessed and been absolved. Frankly, there are worse ways for teens to get into trouble on the internet than voting too many times for a saint in Lent Madness.

However, this will not be tolerated and perpetrators face being cast into the outer darkness of Lent Madness where there will be weeping and gnashing of brackets. Do everyone a favor: vote once. If you’re particularly enthusiastic, get all your friends, neighbors, and even your enemies (the ones we’re supposed to love anyway) to cast a vote for your favorite saint. Big Lent is watching…

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Henry Budd vs. Cecilia

Today in the Saintly Smackdown, we encounter a 19th century Canadian missionary and a 3rd century Roman martyr, as Henry Budd faces Cecilia. Will the entire nation of Canada rise up to vote for one of their own? Or will Cecilia, patron saint of musicians, strike a chord? Only the next 24 hours and your vote, will tell!

In yesterday’s matchup, Moses the Black defeated John Wycliffe 65% to 35% to advance to the Saintly Sixteen where he’ll face the winner of Raymond Nonnatus vs. John of Nepomuck.

Oh, and in case you missed yesterday’s stirring edition of Monday Madness, watch it here. Tim and Scott give shout-outs to parishes and schools who are all in for Lent Madness 2017 (send us your photos!), discuss the importance of the comment section, and invite viewer mail. Yes, YOUR QUESTION for the SEC could be answered in an upcoming episode. Submit them via Facebook or Twitter.

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Monday Madness — March 6, 2017

Sorry for the delay in posting this week’s video. We’re blaming hackers from an Easter website trying to control Lent. Anyway, this week, Tim and Scott celebrate the success of the saintly smackdown in the first full week of this year’s competition. They also give shout outs to several churches who are fully enmeshed in the Madness.

Keep leaving comments, and remember that you can submit questions to the Supreme Executive Committee to be answered “live” “on the air” on next week’s “high quality” and “action-packed” episode of Monday Madness. Leave a comment on Facebook, tweet at us, or send your question–written in pencil–on a $20 bill.

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John Wycliffe vs. Moses the Black

Did you miss us? Well, we’re back for the first full week of Lent Madness action! Hopefully you survived the past 24 hours with no voting — we know it can be tough on the Lenten psyche.

One thing you may not know is that our Bracket Czar, Adam Thomas, wakes up early every morning to updated the online bracket. This is a great service to you, faithful voters, because he also posts links to all the previous battles. This will come in especially handy in subsequent rounds when you want to revisit those early rounds as you make an educated choice based on the all saintly write-ups.

In case you missed the news on Facebook or Twitter, Mechtild of Magdeburg easily swept past Isaac the Syrian on Saturday 77% to 23% to advance to the Saintly Sixteen. A few folks have lamented about the lack of close contests in the first round. This happens sometimes but…just wait.

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There’s more to Lent than madness

Now that Lent Madness is well underway, brackets are getting busted left and right. Mechtild of Magdeburg easily knocked Isaac the Syrian out of the running (77% to 23%) in yesterday’s battle, the only Saturday contest of the season. Come back tomorrow, as the week starts off with John Wycliffe vs. Moses the Black at eight o’clock in the morning, sharp.

Of course, we at Lent Madness HQ hope that you have adopted a Lenten devotion beyond the madness. There are many ways to make good use of this Lenten season of repentance and renewal. You might cultivate habits of daily prayer or study. You might be more intentional about serving the poor or sharing of your abundance with those in great need. Obviously, if you’re playing Lent Madness, you haven’t given up the internet, and we don’t suggest that (but if that’s what you need, go for it!).

If you’re looking for some help to get through Lent, there is still lots of time. Forward Movement, the official sponsor of Lent Madness has loads of resources to help you on the journey.

Ashes and the PhoenixNew this year, Ashes and the Phoenix brings together daily meditations, powerful poetry by Len Freeman, and Jason Sierra’s inspiring woodcut art on your Kindle, Nook, or iBook device. If you are looking for a resource focused on mission outreach and social justice, check out Meeting Jesus on the Margins (Kindle, Nook, or iBook), featuring meditations from Becca Stevens, Mike Kinman, and our own Hugo Olaiz, among other excellent writers.

At this time in our national life, when there has been much conversation about refugees, even as the number of displaced persons continues to rise around the globe, we invite you to engage this season in A Season of Prayer: 40 Days in the Desert. Each day will offer a prayer or scripture reading focused on themes of hospitality, migration, and refugee welcome.

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Isaac the Syrian vs. Mechtild of Magdeburg

Why is this day unique in the annals of Lent Madness 2017? It is the ONLY non-weekday battle of the season. Yes, we’re amazing at math. Thus the first Saturday of every season includes the one and only weekend battle of Lent Madness (trust us – we’ve done the math).

Yesterday Henry Beard Delany romped to a first round victory over Aelred of Rievaulx 78%  to 22%. He’ll go on to face the winner of Anselm of Canterbury vs. Florence Nightingale in the Saintly Sixteen.

Enjoy your Sunday devotions on the First Sunday in Lent (make sure to tell everybody at coffee hour just how much you love Lent Madness) and we’ll get back to voting first thing Monday Morning as John Wycliffe takes on Moses the Black!

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