Free Lent Madness Stuff!

Here at Lent Madness we’re purveyors of free things — grace (fine, that’s from God), brackets (you can print your own), and this entire Lenten devotion — despite our regular hawking of Saintly Scorecards and Bracket Posters, there is no cost to participate in Lent Madness.

But that’s not all! Today we’re offering two more FREE THINGS for all you church newsletter and Sunday bulletin creators: A free Lent Madness 2019 article AND free bulletin inserts!

How can you use the free article? Put it in your newsletter; put a stamp on it and mail it to your entire parish directory; print out copies and plaster them on windshields in the church parking lot (or at the grocery store); attach it to a drone and deliver it to the front door of all your neighbors.

How can you use the free bulletin insert? Download it, print it out, and stuff it into your Sunday bulletin; sneak it inside the grocery store circular when you’re shopping for purple Lent-based food items like beets; go to neighboring churches and pay off the usher to put it into THEIR bulletins.

For those curious about this “Lent Madness thing,” these (free) items serve as perfect introductions. And they’re entirely free for however you see fit to use them. This is yet another, value-added service provided to you from your friends at Lent Madness.

Lent Madness 2019 The Saintly Smackdown is back!

Just when you thought Lent couldn’t possibly become even more penitential, have we got an online hair shirt for you! For the tenth year running, people of faith are filling out saintly brackets and gearing up for the 2019 “saintly smackdown.” 

With its unique blend of competition, learning, and humor, Lent Madness allows participants to be inspired by the ways in which God has worked through the lives of saintly souls across generations and cultures. Throughout Lent, thirty-two saints will do battle to win the coveted Golden Halo. Based loosely on the NCAA basketball tournament of a similar name, this online devotion pits saints against one another in a bracket as voters choose their favorites throughout this penitential season.

Here’s how to participate: on the weekdays of Lent, information is posted at www.lentmadness.org about two different saints. Each pairing remains open for 24 hours as participants read about and then vote to determine which saint moves on to the next round. Sixteen saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo.

The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.

This year, Lent Madness features an intriguing slate of saints ancient and modern, Biblical and ecclesiastical. 2019 heavyweights include Ignatius of Loyola, Nicodemus, Margaret of Cortona, John Chrysostom, and Nicholas of Myra (aka St. Nick). The competition kicks off on “Ash Thursday,” March 7, with an epic battle between Biblical saints Mary and Martha.

The full bracket is online at the Lent Madness website www.lentmadness.org and, while not necessary to participate, you can order The Saintly Scorecard: The Definitive Guide to Lent Madness 2019 at www.forwardmovement.org. This companion guide includes biographies of all 32 saints, a full-color bracket, and information about how to fully participate.

Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of the Rev. Tim Schenck, an Episcopal priest and rector of St. John’s Church in Hingham, Massachusetts. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women who make up the church’s calendar of saints, Schenck devised this devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born.

Starting in 2012, Schenck partnered with Forward Movement (the same folks that publish Forward Day by Day) executive director Scott Gunn, to bring Lent Madness to the masses. Schenck and Gunn form the self-appointed Supreme Executive Committee, a more-or-less benevolent dictatorship that runs the entire operation.

Borrowing inspiration from yet another national sporting event, Schenck and Gunn are referring to the 2019 competition as Lent Madness X. 

Over the years, the formula has worked as this online devotional has been featured in media outlets all over the country including national television, the Washington Post, NPR, USAToday, and even Sports Illustrated (seriously). More importantly thousands of people have been inspired by the saintly stories of those who have come before us in the faith.

Ten “celebrity bloggers” from across the country have been tapped to write for the project: the Rev. Amber Belldene of San Francisco, CA; the Rev. Laurie Brock of Lexington, KY; the Rev. Megan Castellan of Ithaca, BY; Anna Fitch Courie of Honolulu, HI; Dr. David Creech of Morehead, MN; the Rev. David Hansen of Woodlands, TX; Emily Miller of Chicago, IL; Carol Howard Merritt of Chattanooga, TN; The Rev. Marcus Halley of Minneapolis, MN; and the Rev. David Sibley of Walla Walla, WA. Information about each of the celebrity bloggers and the rest of the team is available on the Lent Madness website.

If you’re looking for a Lenten discipline that is fun, educational, occasionally goofy, and always joyful, join the Lent Madness journey. Lent needn’t be all doom and gloom. After all, what could be more joyful than a season specifically set aside to get closer to Jesus Christ?

Monday Madness — February 4, 2019

It’s hard to believe, but it’s already been a week since the last episode of Monday Madness. Time flies when you’re anticipating Lent! (Speaking of which, if you haven’t already done so, you should forget about Game of Thrones and binge-watch all eight seasons of Monday Madness right now.)

Anyway, Scott and Tim are back with another compelling episode of must-see pre-Lenten TV. This week, they share the results of the first-ever three-option vote on Lent Madness, in which the global viewing public chose the new Official Hymn of Lent Madness.

Before we get to the results, now would be a good time to remind you to load up on special Lent Madness items, including the commemorative Tenth Anniversary Edition of the Saintly Scorecard. Just like last year, we are selling the scorecards individually or in packs of 10. To get the best price order three or more packs of 10, for an unbelievably low price of just $1 per scorecard. You’ll also want to buy the astonishing 2019 Giant Bracket Posters. They’re a steal at just $11. There’s no extra charge for the full color printing, and they get cheaper. It’s only $10 each when you buy two or more. Why not get an even dozen?

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Monday Madness — Vote for the Official Lent Madness Hymn!

The epic first pre-season episode of Monday Madness has arrived! Epic? Yes! Because Lent Madness 2019 marks the Saintly Smackdown’s TENTH year. To properly prepare, you’ll want to load up on tenth anniversary collectibles and start scoping out locations for Lent Madness launch parties. Ash Thursday (March 7) venues will soon be booked solid with Lent Madness Tenth Year Launch Parties.

This week, Tim and Scott talk about how it’s never too soon to start preparing for Lent Madness. It would be a good idea to buy your  2019 Saintly Scorecard now, before they sell out. Just like last year, we are selling the scorecards individually or in packs of 10. To get the best price order three or more packs of 10, for an unbelievably low price of just $1 per scorecard. You’ll also want to buy giant 2019 Giant Bracket Posters. They’re a steal at just $11. There’s no extra charge for the full color printing.

But the main reason to get excited is your chance to help select the OFFICIAL HYMN OF LENT MADNESS. That’s right, we’re finally establishing the official hymn of Lent Madness. Once it’s chosen, it would be appropriate to insist your choir sing it on every Sunday in Lent. It should also be sung every time a member of the Supreme Executive Committee enters a room. Think Hail to the Chief, but in a penitential, Lent-y sort of way.

We are very grateful to Sr. Diana of the Community of the Transfiguration for writing these hymns. And with this post, we are naming her the official Hymn-Writer in Residence for Lent Madness. Her work will also accompany us throughout the competition, as she’s in the process of writing a hymn dedicated to each one of the 32 saints in the 2019 bracket. Seriously. (rumor has it she’s already halfway through the lineup). 

So here’s the deal. We’ll print the words of the hymns below. At the bottom of the post, you can vote (once only, please) for your favorite. We’ll cut off the voting at noon next Monday, February 4. The winner will be announced on next week’s episode of Monday Madness.

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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.

Nominationtide

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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