After two gut-wrenchingly close battles involving saints named Thomas, the week's final match-up features an evangelical 18th century Anglican and a man closely linked to Ireland and Scotland.
Thomas the Apostle and Enmegahbowh faced off in an epic see-saw battle that wasn't decided until the wee hours (or early hours depending on your global location). In the end Enmegabowh prevailed 52% to 48% and will head to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen.
One note on our least favorite topic here at Lent Madness: Voter Fraud. Those who closely monitored the vote totals late yesterday will have noted the disappearance of some votes for both saints. This was not due to Lenten hackers but the keen eyes of the Supreme Executive Committee who noticed some irregularities and quickly acted to remedy the situation. It turns out someone from Overland Park, Kansas, voted 100 times for Thomas. Then someone else voted 50 times for Enmegabowh (equal opportunity cheating!). Scott deleted the repeat votes and banished the rogues into the outer darkness of Lent without Lent Madness. We are completely confident that the end result is fair and reflects the will of the non-cheaters. We will remain ever-vigilant and are even considering hiring Jimmy Carter on retainer as an election monitor.
We'll all need the weekend off to recover and prepare for Monday's oedipal match-up between Augustine of Hippo and his mother Monnica! But in the meantime, enjoy today's election and let's keep up the spirit and goodwill of keeping a holy Lent Madness.
William Law (1686-1761) was an 18th century theologian and evangelical writer. He was widely known for his book A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, which was a best-selling handbook on pious living and is still available today. Charles Wesley once said that William Law taught him all he knew about religion.
Educated at Cambridge University with plans to become a clergyman, Law would not take the oath of allegiance to George I, so he served as a private tutor to the children of Edward Gibbon (yes, ‘The Rise and Fall…’ Gibbon). Unable to use the pulpit or lecture hall, he preached through his books. This is when he penned, A Serious Call. It was Gibbon who said, "If Mr. Law finds a spark of piety in a reader's mind, he will soon kindle it into a flame."
Both peasant and preacher found inspiration in William Law’s writings. Not only Charles Wesley, but William Wilberforce, and George Whitefield described reading Law was a major turning point in their lives.
Law eventually retired to his hometown of King’s Cliffe where he lived frugally, gave generously to the poor, helped to open homes and schools for the needy, and spent generous portions of his days in prayer. This is where Law wrote his second-most popular book, An Humble, Earnest, and Affectionate Address to the Clergy, which is still available today under the title, The Power of the Spirit. He died just a few days after this work went to the printer.
Collect for William Law: O God, by whose grace your servant William Law, kindled with the fire of your love, became a burning and shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
-- Chris Yaw
Columba (521-597), was an Irish monk and founder of monasteries in the rough and tumble dark ages. He was born to royal lineage in the Clan O’Donnell in County Donegal. He entered the monastery at a young age where he distinguished himself as a serious student and devout Christian.
Columba is best known as a founder of three monasteries in Derry and Durrow, Ireland and Iona, Scotland. It was 563 when Columba traveled to the isle of Iona, with 12 companions, which, quickly became home base for the conversion of the natives, the Picts and Scots. Columba spent 32 years there, serving as abbot, and preaching the Christian faith to the local inhabitants of Northern Scotland. He would come to baptize both the king of the Picts and the king of the Scots.
The Venerable Bede says Columba’s example of, “preaching and example,” led many people to Christ. He was admired for his discipline and ascetic lifestyle, including sleeping on a stone pillow. It is said that Columba never spent an hour without study, prayer, or similar occupation. He is credited with writing 300 books.
On the eve of his death Columba was said to be home working on a transcription. Then, at the midnight service, Columba entered the church without assistance, sank before the altar, and, surrounded by his disciples, breathed his last.
Columba’s memory lives on in both Scotland and Ireland. While the buildings were desecrated during the Reformation, Iona still flourishes today as an ecumenical religious community.
Collect for Columba: O God, by the preaching of your blessed servant Columba you caused the light of the Gospel to shine in Scotland: Grant, we pray, that, having his life and labors in remembrance, we may show our thankfulness to you by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
-- Chris Yaw
William Law vs. Columba
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