Is Advent the new Lent?

Dear friends in Christ,

Sometimes you hear people talking about how we should all be Easter People. As you know, the Supreme Executive Committee rejects this view. Both of us (Tim and Scott) think we should all be Lent People, and that’s why every single episode of Monday Madness ends with “Happy Lent!” regardless of what time of year it airs.

But seriously, we love Lent not just because it’s the time of year for the Saintly Smackdown. We love Lent because it calls us to renew our walk with Jesus. Lent is a kind of spring cleaning for the soul in which we turn away from all the distractions of the world and turn once again toward Jesus.

2020 has been a year of distractions, and that’s putting it kindly. Thousands and thousands are dead from a pandemic. Political leaders — regardless of your preferred party — have not exactly demonstrated excellence in leadership. We’ve seen racism exposed in new ways. Violence of all kinds seems to be on the rise all around the world. If ever there was a time for us to turn toward Jesus, this is it.

That’s why we’re especially looking forward to Advent this year. Sure, we like it because it’s a purple season and we can wear our team colors. More than that, we are grateful for the arrival of this season, which like Lent, calls us to turn toward Jesus. We’re preparing for Christmas rather than Easter, but both Advent and Lent invite us to turn away from distractions and turn toward the most important things.

Though most people think of us as Lentologists, we do know a few things about Advent and especially about turning toward Jesus. Here are some suggestions to savor the gift of Advent. We hope you’ll think about how you’ll approach Advent ahead of time, so you can be ready to make space for the still, small voice of God. Yes, we’re saying this is the Advent for Advent.

Without further ado, here are some suggestions.

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Monday Madness…on Tuesday

Everyone keeps saying 2020 is bringing unprecedented this and that. Well, here’s one to add to the list. The Supreme Executive Committee is bringing you a brand-new episode of Monday Madness…on a Tuesday. Why? Because reasons.

In this action-packed episode, Tim and Scott discuss the all-new bracket for Lent Madness 2021. Yes, it has 32 saints — that’s nothing new. But this year’s bracket offers groundbreaking (unprecedented!) new quadrants. Gather the kids and neighbors (outdoors, wearing masks, six-feet apart) around your computer and behold the new cinematic brilliance, which includes a new (very brief!) intro.

It wouldn’t be a Monday Madness if you didn’t hear about the Lentorium. Watch to get details on this year’s Giant Bracket Posters, a bargain at $11. Buy two or more, and save! Also, this year’s Saintly Scorecard includes tips for safely enjoying Lent Madness during a pandemic with full social distancing in your home or church. You can pre-order individual copies or buy them in bulk and save. Single copies are just $5, and if you buy in bulk, the price drops to just $1.50 per scorecard if you purchase three bundles of ten or more.

Of course, like the grace of Jesus, Lent Madness is free of charge. If you don’t want to spend any money, you can visit the bracket tab of the Lent Madness website and print out your own bracket.

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October Surprise: It’s All Brackets’ Day!

In the ultimate October Surprise, the Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness has declared TODAY All Brackets’ Day!

Normally, we announce the new bracket for Lent Madness at the conclusion of the Autumn Triduum: All Saints’ Day on November 1, All Souls’ Day on November 2, and All Brackets’ Day on November 3. The United States Congress wouldn’t return our phone calls about rescheduling the general election to accommodate our big day, so we decided — as a magnanimous gesture — to move our big day.

So All Brackets’ Day, one of the most highly anticipated holy days of the entire year, is here early. Surprise! And, by the way, with the other “madness” (the one involving bouncing orange orbs) having been suspended back in 2020, Lent Madness is now the world’s longest continuously-running bracket competition. *

Some would say that in the midst of tense political times, we should avoid distractions like Lent Madness. For a few people, that may be true. But remember the Great Commandment of the world’s largest online Lenten devotion*: Lent Madness is optional. For those who enjoy the annual Saintly Smackdown, the unveiling of the Lent Madness 2021 bracket offers a reminder that God works in all kinds of people. As always, in devotion to the saints, we find both inspiration by example and the comfort of knowing that the great cloud of witnesses is ready to cheer us on.

With that all said, we hope you enjoy seeing next year’s bracket. You’ll find the usual diversity of saints, with a variety of race and gender, laity and clergy, ancient and modern, prophet and pastor, young and old. But you’ll see Christ’s light burning brightly in each of their lives.

Here’s the bracket (click to enlarge):

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Voting When There is No Bracket

With just 128 days until Ash Thursday, the world is watching for Lent Madness news. It won’t be long until the 2021 bracket is revealed, and soon it will be time to order your Saintly Scorecards and bracket posters to get ready for the World’s Largest Online Lenten Devotion and also the World’s Oldest Continually Running Bracket Competition.

Until then, we’re left with other news. Our US-based readers will have seen the constant chaos that is the US political scene. While it’s true the Lent Madness sometimes hangs in the balance as Tim and Scott squabble as the sworn archnemeses they are, even the Supreme Executive Committee has nothing on the yellfest that was the recent “debate” between leading presidential candidates. No, the rumors are not true. Neither Tim nor Scott offered coaching on how to be an archnemesis.

But seriously, we know that many of our Lent Madness fans are distressed by the state of discourse in American politics. We long to be able to connect with people with whom we disagree, and we yearn for the deep peace of Christ. Whatever our political persuasion, we believe things could be better. Whatever our views, we hope for peace.

Our sponsors at Forward Movement are offering two resources that might be helpful.

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Happy Nominationtide!

What’s up? On Ascension Day, it’s Jesus! And also it’s the start of Nominationtide!

For ten full days, the Supreme Executive Committee will be accepting nominations for Lent Madness 2020. The nominating period will remain open through the Day of Pentecost, Sunday, May 31, at which point this brief exercise in Lenten democracy will go up in smoke like the hair of the disciples when the tongues of fire descended upon their heads.

Usually we only allow a week for Nominationtide, but this year we are generously allowing you ten days. We know that conferring on nominations might take longer in a time of social distancing. Please note that the Lent Madness website has been thoroughly disinfected, so there is no risk as you read this post or browse the online Lentorium.* Unfortunately, all Lentorium store locations remained closed at this time.

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Monday Madness — Eastertide Edition

Happy Easter Lent from the Supreme Executive Committee! Tim and Scott are back with one last episode of the 2020 Lent Madness season to celebrate the victory of Harriet Tubman, winner of the 2020 Golden Halo. They also tell you how you can toast this great season of Lent Madness by raising a mug of your favorite warm beverage in a commemorative Harriet Tubman 2020 Golden Halo winner mug. They’re just $11, so pre-order now to get your mug in a few weeks.

And, remember, Nominationtide is coming up at a day and hour no one knows. But it will be sometime this Eastertide. So visit the Lent Madness website several times a day until you see the post inviting you to make ONE nomination for the 2021 Lent Madness bracket. It’s the only way to make nominations.

Finally, we realize you might be facing some sadness now that Lent Madness is over. Don’t worry, you can relive all the great moments from the last few years by enjoying the complete nine-season Monday Madness catalog. Enjoy!

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Harriet Tubman wins 2020 Golden Halo!

Harriet Tubman Gold Halo winner

The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness congratulates Harriet Tubman for winning the 2020 Golden Halo. Harriet became the 11th saint to wear the highly coveted crown by defeating the always-inspiring and statuesque runner up, St. Joseph. She joins previous Golden Halo winners George Herbert (2010), C.S. Lewis (2011), Mary Magdalene (2012), Frances Perkins (2013), Charles Wesley (2014), Francis of Assisi (2015), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (2016), Florence Nightingale (2017), Anna Alexander (2018), and Martha of Bethany (2019).

Harriet Tubman mugWhat’s nearly as important as announcing the Golden Halo winner? Sharing the Lentorium link to the winner’s swag! Be the first one on your block to order the official Harriet Tubman 2020 Golden Halo mug. Your brand new mug will ship later this spring in plenty of time for you to serve your friends warm beverages (from a safe distance and without touching anything).

Want to nominate a saint for Lent Madness 2021? Tim and Scott will be opening up the week-long nomination process (aka Nominationtide) in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Finally, blessings to all as we head into the Triduum and enter into the death and resurrection of our Lord. It’s been a privilege to have you join us on our Lenten pilgrimage. Stay safe out there, folks, and know that you remain in our prayers.

What is Spy Wednesday?

The entire world quivers in anticipation of the announcement of the winner of the epic Golden Halo battle between Harriet Tubman and Joseph. In regular Monday Madness episodes, Tim and Scott have often said this final round takes place on “Spy Wednesday.”

spywednesdaypaintingSeveral of you have asked us about this unusual name for the Wednesday in Holy Week. The Supreme Executive Committee are always glad to SECsplain things, so herewith we offer some background on the name Spy Wednesday.

Spy Wednesday gets its name because this is the day on which Judas betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin. Because Judas is thought to be sneaky, his actions conjured up the image of a spy. The synoptic gospels all include an account of the betrayal — Matthew 26:12-14, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6.

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For the Golden Halo: Harriet Tubman vs. Joseph

It’s hard to believe our Lent Madness journey is nearing its inevitable end. We kicked things off over five weeks ago on “Ash Thursday” with 32 saintly souls (which somehow seems a lot longer than that this year). With your help, the field has now been whittled down to just two: Harriet Tubman and Joseph. Who will be awarded the coveted 2020 Golden Halo? That, friends, is up to you.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, we’ve met some truly remarkable holy people along the way. Perhaps you learned about some folks you’d never heard of or maybe you renewed acquaintances with saints who have long offered inspiration. Of course the entire notion of placing saints in a bracket is absurd — each “contestant” has already earned a crown of righteousness in addition to a “golden halo.” But at the heart of Lent Madness is the abiding conviction that encountering those who have come before us in the faith enriches and enlivens our own walk with the risen Christ.

In the process of this whimsical Lenten devotion we’ve all made some new online friends, encountered a community of believers who take their faith but not themselves too seriously, learned some things, were inspired by saintly witnesses, and hopefully had some fun along the way. Read more »

Elizabeth Fry vs. Joseph

Who will face Harriet Tubman for the coveted 2020 Golden Halo? That’s the question we’ll answer today as Elizabeth Fry faces Joseph, following Harriet’s victory over Hildegard of Bingen 58% to 42%.

To make it to the Faithful Four, Elizabeth Fry defeated Florian, Clare of Assisi, and Margaret of Castello, while Joseph took down Joshua, Elizabeth, and Joanna the Myyrhbearer. (again, click on the defeated saint’s name to read the previous write-ups). We’re grateful to Celebrity Bloggers Amber Belldene (Elizabeth Fry) and Neva Rae Fox (Joseph) for shepherding their respective saints all the way to the Faithful Four.

Then, once the final matchup is settled, the Championship round will take place tomorrow on Spy Wednesday, with the winner announced at 8:00 am on Maundy Thursday.

But we still have a ways to go yet. So read, watch yesterday’s last in-season episode of Monday Madness, and then vote! Though not necessarily in that order.

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