Happy All Brackets’ Day!

Even as we revel in the All Saints’-All Souls’-All Brackets’ triduum, the entire world is still basking in the glow of Anna Alexander’s victory in the quest for the Golden Halo last Lent. As you certainly know by now, she was a deaconess. What’s one thing deacons do? They dismiss people.

So whatever you were planning for today, you are hereby dismissed. The Supreme Executive Committee is pleased to announce the 2019 Lent Madness bracket! (to read it, zoom in, open it in a new tab, print it out, or get a magnifying glass). We know you’ll want to cancel your plans and spend the rest of the day poring over every saint and every match-up.

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LM @ GC Play-In: James the Great vs. James the Less

Everything’s bigger in Texas. That’s what people keep telling us as the Episcopal Church gathers for its triennial General Convention in Austin. Since the Supreme Executive Committee believes nothing is bigger than Lent Madness, we fit right in here!

We have a Texas-sized play-in match taking place TODAY as James the Great battles James the Less in a winner-take-all throw-down to become the first saint to crack the 2019 Lent Madness bracket. You can vote in one of two ways: online here OR by casting a special purple ballot at the Forward Movement booth in the Exhibit Hall. Polls will be open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern time today only. It’s a short window, so cast your vote and tell all your friends to get to the polls! (as always, we encourage voting early but not often).

If you’re in Austin, stop by the Forward Movement booth to meet Tim and Scott, take a selfie with an actual golden halo, and register your complaints about past and future brackets (which the SEC will “take under advisement”). For eagle-eyed attendees, you’ll also have the opportunity to spy Distinguished Celebrity Bloggers/General Convention Deputies Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, and David Sibley.

We’re grateful to veteran Celebrity Blogger David Creech for writing bios for both James the Great and James the Less (everyone else was either on vacation, working at the Convention, or ignored our email).

You can take your cattle ranches and giant slabs of barbecue. Nothing’s bigger than Lent Madness in July!

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Nominationtide has arrived!

The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness wishes everyone a most blessed season of Nominationtide! For the next week, we will  accept saintly nominations for Lent Madness 2019. This holy season will run from Monday, April 23, at 8:00 am Eastern Time and conclude on Monday, April 30 at 8:00 am.


As we highlighted in a recent post, there are several Pharisaic rules and regulations in place to successfully nominate a saint. For easy reference, we are reprinting them here:

  1. The nominee must, in fact, be dead.
  2. The nominee must be on the official calendar of saintly commemorations of some church.
  3. We will accept only one nominee per person.*
  4. You must tell us WHY you are nominating the one person that you enter.*
  5. Your deceased pet, as wonderful as she or he may have been, is not eligible.
  6. The ONLY way to nominate a saint will be to leave a comment on this post.
  7. That means comments left on Facebook or Twitter don’t count.
  8. Scott and Tim may or may not be open to bribes.

* This is a new guideline as the SEC has received huge lists from individuals in the past.

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Nominationtide is nigh upon us

Mere days from now, the Supreme Executive Committee will begin accepting saintly nominations for Lent Madness 2019 during the holy season of Nominationtide (the liturgical color for this sacred season in the Church year is, obviously, purple). This year, Nominationtide will take place over a full week, running from Monday, April 23, at 8:00 am Eastern Time and concluding on Monday, April 30 at 8:00 am.

All Saints Icon
The saints are queuing up already, hoping to be first-round draft picks of Lent Madness 2019.

It is a high honor to be invited to share nominations for what will be the 10th Anniversary Edition of Lent Madness. You will find your heart strangely warmed even if your nomination does not ultimately make it into the bracket. Why? Because every nomination will be prayerfully considered by the SEC during their upcoming annual Spring Retreat at a secure, undisclosed location.

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Anna Alexander wins 2018 Golden Halo!

The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness offers its hearty congratulations to 2018 Golden Halo winner Anna Alexander. Anna joins the ranks of 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), and Florence Nightingale (2017).

What propelled Deaconess Anna to victory amid a stellar crowd of 32 saintly souls? Besides being an amazing Christian, we’re not exactly sure. Who knows what captures the imagination of the Lent Madness Global Public? But we do think the passionate students at Episcopal Day School in Augusta, Georgia, played a crucial role in highlighting Anna’s amazingness. Watch these two short videos and we think you’ll agree!

What’s nearly as important as announcing the Golden Halo winner? Sharing the Lentorium link to the winner’s swag! This year, we’re offering an Anna Alexander Golden Halo 2018 mug along with a new item — a purple Lent Madness travel mug. Show your Lent Madness spirit!

Want to nominate a saint for Lent Madness 2019? Tim and Scott will be opening up the week-long nomination process (aka Nominationtide) in the coming weeks. Stay tuned! If you’re worried you’ll miss it, we suggest sitting in front of your computer and just re-loading the Lent Madness web page over and over again. Hey, it’s the kind of out-of-season exercise that will make you ready for next year’s 10th anniversary contest with a freshly trained refresh finger.

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!

For the Golden Halo: Maria Skobtsova vs. Anna Alexander

2017 Golden Halo winner Florence Nightingale prepares to anoint the 2018 winner.

It’s hard to believe Lent Madness 2018 is coming to an end. We started this Lenten journey five weeks ago on “Ash Thursday” and it will conclude tomorrow as the Golden Halo is announced at 8:00 am Eastern Time on Maundy Thursday. We began with 32 saintly souls and, with your help, we have whittled down the field to just two: Maria Skobtsova and Anna Alexander.

Along the way we’ve met some truly remarkable holy women and men. 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 Lent need not be gloomy or depressing. After all, what could be more joyful than a season specifically devoted to being drawn into deeper relationship with the risen Christ?

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Anna Alexander vs. Richard Hooker

In yesterday’s Faithful Four matchup, Maria Skobtsova defeated Esther 73% to 27% to make it to the Championship Round. Who will compete with Maria to vie for the Golden Halo? That’s the question to be decided over the next 24 hours as Anna Alexander, the Georgia Deaconess, faces Richard Hooker, the Anglican theologian.

To get this deep into the Saintly Smackdown, Anna defeated Peter Claver, Edith Cavell, and Eglantyne Jebb, while Richard got past Mary of Egypt, Margaret of Scotland, and Phocas the Gardener.

Anna continues to be shepherded through the bracket by her namesake Anna Fitch Courie. Richard’s advocate is Marcus Halley, who…shares a last name initial with Mr. Hooker.

Finally, did you watch the final in-season episode of Monday Madness? Of course you did. But here’s the link nonetheless. You know, to share with your friends and family and Facebook friends you’ve never actually met.

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Monday Madness: Faithful Four Edition

It’s Holy Week, but it’s also the Week of the Faithful Four here at the Lent Dome. Tim and Scott come to you live with this week’s edition of Monday Madness, the last in-season episode of 2018. They discuss the Faithful Four. They give shout-outs to huge Lent Madness fans who hold Faithful Four pep rallies. And they highlight a new Lent Madness 2018-inspired hymn (thankfully written by neither Tim nor Scott).

Get excited! The ever-approaching climactic end is near!

You can download the full hymn that Tim reads here, in case you want to insert it into the back of all your church’s hymnals or sing it at your Spy Wednesday liturgy. Also, if you’d like to own a Lent Madness pint glass (kind of) like the one that Scott uses in this video, you can get a 2016 Golden Halo Dietrich Bonhoeffer pint glass of your own.

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Esther vs. Maria Skobtsova

“The End is Near!” proclaims the ubiquitous sign of the doomsday prophet. In the case of Lent Madness 2018, our sign-wielding friend would be correct. Welcome to the Faithful Four. After weeks of learning and voting and debating, the saintly field has been whittled down from 32 to four spiritual heavyweights: Esther, Maria Skobtsova, Anna Alexander, and Richard Hooker.

As we like to tell our five-year-olds when they join their first soccer team (that’s football for our friends across the pond), “there are no losers, everybody’s a winner.” Of course we’re lying. Thus, while we can sing the praises of these four saintly souls, only one Golden Halo will be awarded.

Today Esther takes on Maria Skobtsova; tomorrow Anna Alexander battles Richard Hooker; and on Spy Wednesday the championship round will take place. For the Faithful Four, we let our remaining Celebrity Bloggers loose as they answer the question “Why should Saint XX win the Golden Halo?” In other words, they’ve been charged with letting us know why their particular saint is so awesome. In this match-up, we have the unique situation of Megan Castellan writing for both Esther and Maria. Oddly enough this is familiar ground for Megan who, in 2015, also had both sides of a Faithful Four matchup in advocating for both Brigid of Kildare and Egeria. Tomorrow Anna Courie is writing for Anna Alexander and Marcus Halley for Richard Hooker.

To make it to the Faithful Four, Esther made it past Lazarus of Bethany, Michael the Archangel, and Peter, while Maria bested Thomas à Kempis, Quiteria, and Martin de Porres. Here’s your chance to send one of these inspiring women off to vie for the Golden Halo.

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Help make more Madness

Come Monday morning, it will all heat up as the Faithful Four begins. One of four saints will soon take home the coveted 2018 Golden Halo. We hope you have enjoyed the ride. It’s been another great year of Lent Madness, as tens of thousands of people from around the globe have learned about the saints together. Once again, we have enjoyed a wonderful online community together. (Name another site where you actually want to read the comments!)

It can all seem a bit silly at times, we know. And that’s the point. Lent Madness also gives us an opportunity to reflect on all the ways the love of Jesus Christ is revealed in women and men of all sorts, in all places, in all times. Perhaps someone from the Lent Madness Global Viewing Public will one day be remembered by the church as a saint.

Tim started this madness on his blog in 2010. Scott got involved that very year, running a proxy campaign for George Herbert, the first-ever Golden Halo winner. When Scott went to work at Forward Movement, Tim suggested they team up to kick the madness up a few notches. And the rest is history.

Back in 2012, it might have seemed unlikely. Why would a staid publishing company choose to sponsor Lent Madness, which is anything but predictable? Simply put, it’s because Forward Movement was in the midst of embracing a deeper calling, to be a discipleship company, not just a publishing company.

Lent Madness is but one of many ways Forward Movement has expanded over the last few years. Families can get encouragement and ideas for practicing faith at home on Grow Christians. People have gathered for inspiring conferences on evangelism and discipleship. Free curricula are now available so that churches can teach people the wonders of scripture or the breadth of diversity in the saints. Lately, Forward Movement has offered more and more resources for free to prisoners, people deployed in the military, nursing home residents, and hospital patients.

What do all these new and expanded ways of serving the church have in common? None of them brings in much net income. The expenses to offer resources to today’s church often exceed what comes in. And yet we know that these are exactly the kinds of resources that lead to transformed lives in today’s church.

Here’s your chance to give thanks for Lent Madness and many other new resources for the church. Please consider making a gift (large or small!) to support this work. Make your gift in honor of your favorite saint, if you like. Make your gift in honor of someone who has received free material. Make your gift in hope that Forward Movement will continue to inspire disciples and empower evangelists in tomorrow’s church.

You can make a gift online, you can send a check to Forward Movement, 412 Sycamore Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202, or you can call 800-543-1813 during business hours. Your generosity will allow Forward Movement’s ongoing generous response to the needs of the world and the church.