Frances Perkins vs. Hilda of Whitby

“The End is Near!” proclaims the ubiquitous sign of the doomsday prophet. In the case of Lent Madness 2013, 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: Frances Perkins, Hilda of Whitby, Luke the Evangelist, and Oscar Romero.

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 saints, only one Golden Halo will be awarded.

Today Frances Perkins takes on Hilda of Whitby; tomorrow Luke the Evangelist battles Oscar Romero; 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, Heidi Shott is advocating for Frances Perkins and Laurie Brock for Hilda of Whitby. Tomorrow Laura Toepfer is writing for Luke the Evangelist and Megan Castellan for Oscar Romero.

To make it to the Faithful Four, bracket Cinderella Frances Perkins made it past Damien of Molokai, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Jonathan Daniels. Hilda of Whitby bested Samuel SeaburyIgnatius of Antioch, and Harriet Tubman. Here’s your chance to send one of these inspiring women off to vie for the Golden Halo.

Don’t forget to watch Maple Anglican’s video previewing today’s match-up.

perkins-momFrances Perkins

In his 2010 essay in The Anglican Examiner,Frances Perkins: Architect of the Gracious Society,” Donn Mitchell begins by recounting how Perkins once answered a provocative question.

‘Don’t you think it’s wrong for people to get things they don’t pay for?’

‘Why no,’ Frances Perkins responded. ‘I find I get so much more than I pay for. Don’t you?’

The woman who had conceived, birthed, nursed, and nurtured the New Deal’s crowning achievement — the Social Security Act — the Social Security Act — was revealing the theological perspective that informed her long career advocating, shaping, and ultimately implementing social policy. She knew she had not paid for the earth she walked on or the parents who had raised her. She had not ‘earned’ the breath in her lungs. All life was an unearned gift from God, as she saw it.

Perkins with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Perkins with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

What we ‘got,’ in her view, was a function of grace, not merit or its inverse correlate, sin. A godly society, therefore, would be a gracious society. Just as God had endowed humankind with the basics and then allowed them freedom to develop their capacities to create and contribute, so the community should graciously guarantee basic provision for its individual members while allowing maximum freedom to make their way in the world.


Plaque at St. Andrew’s, Newcastle, Maine

We talk a great deal about the theology of abundance and the theology of scarcity in the Episcopal Church. Often it’s used to transform our old notions of stewardship or to get members thinking about capital campaign gifts. The transformation is local — our own hearts or perhaps, on a truly miraculous scale, the collective heart of a congregation.

But Frances Perkins took her belief in the theology of abundance to an astonishing level. Through incredible hard work and determination and in the midst of a political and social climate that is unimaginable for a late-boomer woman like me, Perkins extended her theology to the whole nation for the benefit of all its citizens.


Perkins with President John F. Kennedy (Bettman/Corbis)

The prologue of Kirstin Downey’s biography, The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’S Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience, begins with the ultimatum that Perkins gave to Roosevelt before she would accept the appointment to become his Secretary of Labor.

“On a chilly February night in 1933, a middle-aged woman waited expectantly to meet with her employer at his residence on East 65th Street in New York City. She clutched a scrap of paper with hastily written notes. Finally ushered into his study the woman brushed aside her nervousness and spoke confidently….

He wanted her to take an assignment but she had decided she wouldn’t accept it unless he allowed her to do it her own way. She held up the piece of paper in her hand, and he motioned for her to continue. She ticked off the items: a forty-hour workweek, a minimum wage, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, a federal law banning child labor, direct federal aid for unemployment relief, Social Security, a revitalized public employment service, and health insurance.”

Sloane, the girlfriend in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,  might have been just as astutely describing Perkins as Ferris when she said, “You knew what you were doing when you woke up this morning.”

Frances Perkins knew what she was doing.

perkins_1911I wasn’t thinking about Perkins, years ago, when I wrote an essay called “Cleaning the Fridge,” but now it seems obvious. “The people we revere most are simply human beings choosing from among the options laid out before them and then doing the work they’ve been given to do. Most of them would avoid the hard and unpleasant stuff given the chance. Most, like Melville’s Bartleby, ‘would prefer not to.’ But the difference between our saints and the rest of us is they do the hard things anyway.”

Frances Perkins — lay woman, public servant, doer of hard things because they needed to be done. She knew God imbued her with the strength, talent, and experience to do them, and, like another saint in the bracket, she knew she could do no other.

Heidi Shott

images-2Hilda of Whitby

Hilda (or, more correctly Hild of Streaneschalch) is not known for one spectacular moment. Some saints are. That one moment where they make such a devoted decision out of love we are left in awe. She is not known for a profound body of literature, as are other saints. In fact, nothing of her own writing exists. Most of what we know about her was written by Bede. She is not known for anything other than perhaps hosting a synod.

Or at least that’s what I thought when I began my Lenten relationship with Hilda. Almost forty days and several rounds later, I am in awe of this woman who is not known for anything spectacular other than her profound ability to encourage others.

She might not have left her own writings, but when a young monk named Caedmon who

Abbess Hilda receiving Caedmon

Abbess Hilda receiving Caedmon

cared for animals at Whitby had a dream about composing song, Hilda encouraged him to write. In doing so, she helped birth what would become English poetry. She might not have been a great queen or powerful politician, but her compassionate wisdom grounded in the Gospel encouraged kings and rulers who sought her advice. She might not have been a pope or priest or bishop, but she created a community where equality of property, study, and communal prayer encouraged education and parity in a double monastery. Five of her monks became bishops; two are revered as saints.

She might not have even carried the day at Whiby, that synod she hosted. Yes, the Roman date of Easter and monastic hairstyle won, but Hilda continued to encourage. She encouraged Christianity to remain unified, despite differences. She encouraged obedience to the vote that carried the day, even though she personally disagreed with the outcome. She stood with unified dignity in a way our modern church leaders could emulate as we struggle with decisions that can be divisive.

images-3However we view saints, they are (hopefully) very human people who lived their lives in very remarkable ways. And while I will always be impressed with Hilda’s turning snakes to stone, I am in awe of her extraordinary ability to encourage others and to create a community where that encouragement could thrive. I am humbled by her example of desiring a unified, faithful community over her own position.

Hilda’s life is a holy example that speaks to us today as we wrestle with a changing church, with new understandings of theology that can be challenging and divisive, and with the temptation to nurture our own egos rather than encouraging lives lived in the radical love of Christ. She reminds us that this place is nothing new for the church. Her life speaks with calm love to us all. And her ministry of encouragement — all of those spectacular moments she wove together in her days — is still urging us on to live our lives in love, service, and community.

Thanks be to God.

Laurie Brock


Frances Perkins vs. Hilda of Whitby

  • Frances Perkins (61%, 3,434 Votes)
  • Hilda of Whitby (39%, 2,154 Votes)

Total Voters: 5,584

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153 Comments to "Frances Perkins vs. Hilda of Whitby"

  1. Sarah R.'s Gravatar Sarah R.
    March 25, 2013 - 8:02 am | Permalink

    Friends, Anglicans, Countrymen, lend me a small part of your computer screen. Are we going to let the US Department of Labor “muscle” us out of our own Lent Madness? Nay, nay I cry! Let us not turn back now, but let us move forward together in Christian harmony under the watchful eye of our Shepherdess who holds her crosier high…Saint Hilda of Whitby! Saint Hild of Streoneshalh, our Mother Superior, a leader to both monks and nuns, our dedicated teacher, and our patron of the arts. Our holy sister who defended Celtic Christianity but when she knew she was defeated, acquiesced for the sake of unity. In all times, (since 614AD) and in all languages may we forever chant the name: Hil-da, Hil-da, Hil-da!

    • March 25, 2013 - 9:52 am | Permalink

      Hil-da! Hil-da! Hilda, Hilda, you’re our saint! If you can’t do it, nobody aint! Okay, bad English, but I thought if I wrote ‘girl’ I might have aspersions of the worst kind thrown at me and not the kind at the end of a wonderful scented branch of rosemary.

      • Phil Harrington's Gravatar Phil Harrington
        March 25, 2013 - 10:14 am | Permalink

        Saints are people made for their times. I don’t work for the Dept. of Labor but it just dawned on me this morning that in THIS day of deteriorating worker rights, unlivable wages, and attacks on social security and healthcare for the sake of preserving privilege for the wealthy, FRANCES PERKINS is made for this year’s Golden Halo.

        • Scott Elliott's Gravatar Scott Elliott
          March 25, 2013 - 12:15 pm | Permalink

          Yes. Yes. That’s exactly right. Thank you for putting it into words.

        • Mary Wueste's Gravatar Mary Wueste
          March 25, 2013 - 10:43 pm | Permalink

          Amen, Phil!!!! Couldn’t agree more.

    • Liz V.'s Gravatar Liz V.
      March 25, 2013 - 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Hilda, all the way!

  2. Jim Moyer's Gravatar Jim Moyer
    March 25, 2013 - 8:05 am | Permalink

    Perhaps I shall be deemed a grump … but is the contest in some danger of being carpet bombed by Department of Labor folks and Mount Holyoke alumni? Now, I will be the first to say that neither affiliation is disqualifying in any way. As a Hilda fan, I am a bit worried that she doesn’t have enough 20th century connections to defeat a social media campaign for Frances Perkins. (Returning to my spot under the bridge.)

    • Anna's Gravatar Anna
      March 25, 2013 - 11:17 am | Permalink

      I followed Lent Madness last year as well and am a pledging member of my local Episcopalian church. I ALSO happen to be a Mount Holyoke alumna. Guess what: not mutually exclusive. So yes, you are a grump.

      • Jim Moyer's Gravatar Jim Moyer
        March 25, 2013 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

        I noted, ” neither affiliation is disqualifying in any way.” Cheers.

      • Gillian, class of 69's Gravatar Gillian, class of 69
        March 25, 2013 - 10:32 pm | Permalink

        Me, too, Anna. Go, Frances Perkins! I love that she went in to a conference with FDR and said: this is what people need.

    • Laura Bellusci, FP '96's Gravatar Laura Bellusci, FP '96
      March 25, 2013 - 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Dear Mr. Moyers:
      A correction is in order: Mt. Holyoke graduates, of which I proudly claim membership (alumna: Frances Perkins Program, 1996), must be termed alumnae, not alumni as you stated in your post (March 25, 2013).

      Back out you get from under the bridge… and send in your mea culpa.

      Laura Bellusci, FP ’96

  3. Russ's Gravatar Russ
    March 25, 2013 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    Saint vs. politician? Let us be real! GO HILDA!!

    • Andrea Harles's Gravatar Andrea Harles
      March 25, 2013 - 11:56 am | Permalink

      But Hilda was a politician too! My definition of government has been that it is an institution that works out how we live together in this place, in this town, in this state, in this country, in this world; and my definition of church is that is is an institution that works out how we live together in this world in relation to God our creator. In the end not a lot of difference, particularly if the politician or govt worker is a person of faith. Of course, we all bring a wide range of belief and baggage to our own faith. I have been disappointed at the several comments disparaging bureaucrats and politicians. While there are clearly bad apples among us all whatever our field, most are really trying to do the best they can—just like Hilda did even tho she was unsuccessful in persuading the church politicians of her time to choose the direction she perceived as best.

      • Russ's Gravatar Russ
        March 25, 2013 - 7:28 pm | Permalink

        Yes, but Hilda’s works did not lead our nation to socialism.

        • Sarah Lawton's Gravatar Sarah Lawton
          March 25, 2013 - 7:50 pm | Permalink

          Neither did Frances’s works. At the time, they were seen by many, for better or worse, as reforming and saving capitalism.

          • BHamilton's Gravatar BHamilton
            March 25, 2013 - 11:43 pm | Permalink

            Well noted Sarah.

    • Tom's Gravatar Tom
      March 25, 2013 - 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Besides all that, involvement in public policy is a noble calling! Public servants like Frances Perkins are wonderful examples for today’s aspiring saints.

  4. Craig Clere's Gravatar Craig Clere
    March 25, 2013 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    I was all ready to vote for Hilda but when I read this morning’s match-up, I changed my mind. My vote goes to Frances Perkins for all good she helped accomplish in this country.

  5. Carey's Gravatar Carey
    March 25, 2013 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    I do not think Frances was really a politician. While she was part of a political administration, she did not “run” for her office and how many political appointees of FDR gave HIM an ultimatum before they would accept nomination to office? Both ladies as outstanding role models for today but my vote goes to Frances this time. As the old “political” saying goes, vote early and vote often!

  6. MaterC's Gravatar MaterC
    March 25, 2013 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    I went with the one who led me to tears and encouraged me to encourage others. Without Hilda, Frances might not have happened

  7. March 25, 2013 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    I tire of people saying “This is the hardest one yet!” – every day. But for me, today’s choice is a struggle. The US would be a very different, “less than” nation had it not been for the vision and dogged perseverance of Frances Perkins. However, Anglicans worldwide do well to heed the lessons taught by Hild – offering encouragement and support for others in the face of not getting one’s own way. No losers here, but my vote goes to Hild. (And great write-ups Heidi & Laurie – Thank you both.)

  8. Emmetri Monica Beane's Gravatar Emmetri Monica Beane
    March 25, 2013 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    Today’s matchup raises a larger question for me. How does the Episcopal church define a saint? Clearly, the notion changed as demonstrated by the explosion of the number of people included in “Holy Women, Holy Men” as compared to “Lesser Feasts and Fasts.” I agree there are many people who have done commendable things that have had huge impacts on things that concern the church. Does this make them a saint? My gut says this alone is not the criteria. Being a saint, I think, used to mean one who has lived a life that left a pattern worth copying behind. This is more than all of the redeemed being “saints” or having a great accomplishment. Lent Madness is fun at its core. However, when reflecting on the “saint” more worthy to wear the Golden Halo, I ask myself “as a Christian, who left behind a truer pattern to follow?” (Today, my vote went to Hilda.)

    • christine's Gravatar christine
      March 25, 2013 - 8:48 am | Permalink

      i rather like the designation of Holy Women, Holy Men, because as mother Theresa responded to a reporter- “we are all called to be holy” , the conundrum presented for us today is that both of these women led lives worth copying! Still mulling….

  9. March 25, 2013 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    I’m about to boycott today because I’m still upset about Perkins’ defeat of Daniels and Hlda’s defeat of Tubman. Are we redefining the saintliness of our civil rights and slave freeing martyrs?

    • Sarah R.'s Gravatar Sarah R.
      March 25, 2013 - 8:49 am | Permalink

      Dann Brown, I think you should vote for Hilda because not only did Perkins defeat Daniels but she defeated MLK as well, MLK!!! I say teach those anti-civil rights folks a lesson and vote for Hilda.

      • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
        March 25, 2013 - 1:50 pm | Permalink

        Sarah R, you are a shameless politicker! …er, I mean, “passionate advocate for your Holy Woman!” ; )

    • Conny Santana's Gravatar Conny Santana
      March 25, 2013 - 10:35 pm | Permalink

      I too faced this exact dilemma on these two match ups. Then I thought perhaps I was just too entrenched in my perspective because I lived in the deep south during those hard pre civil rights days; so my heroes were these “saints of the people”. So I continued. And I do terribly admire Frances Perkins. I too spent my career as a civil servant and I know their are good, honest hard working civil servants out there. But, I don’t put Frances in the category of sainthood. Therein lies the connundrum…so it’s Hilda of course and ultimately it will be Luke for me. You vote from whom you are I suppose.

      • Conny Santana's Gravatar Conny Santana
        March 25, 2013 - 10:39 pm | Permalink

        their (sic) should read there

  10. March 25, 2013 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    Frances! Frances!

  11. Nancy Evans's Gravatar Nancy Evans
    March 25, 2013 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    Go Hilda!!! You have a new convert!!

  12. Mary Lou's Gravatar Mary Lou
    March 25, 2013 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    Two outstanding subjects in today’s race, that’s for sure. But this face off also begs the question, what makes one a saint? Does the title have to be officially conferred on one to be thought as such? I think not. If that were the case, many of those we honor would never be recognized. That said, while I respect and honor the work that Hilda did, my vote today goes with Francis. For without her, the U.S. would be a different place today. She was simply doing what Jesus would do.

  13. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    March 25, 2013 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    This is an incredibly difficult vote today, as they are my #1 and #2 choices of the Faithful Four. I love love love what Frances Perkins did for us; she was truly an incredible woman (and by the way this was a GREAT writeup!). However, as much of an uphill batttle as she had, Hilda had to overcome even more. It was, after all, the dark ages. To accomplish so much and yet still act with humility when she didn’t get her way, to encourage and influence so many, well, that gets her my vote. If Hilda doesn’t win today however, I hope Frances takes it all the way for the Golden Halo!

    • Heather C's Gravatar Heather C
      March 25, 2013 - 10:04 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Mary, for saying what I wanted to say much more clearly than I would have been able to. I am so grateful to Frances for all she has done, but Hilda, indeed, lived in an age when it was nigh impossible for a woman to wield the influence she did. Take the long view of history, dear LMers.

      • March 25, 2013 - 8:59 pm | Permalink

        Actually, in the Middle Ages the monastery was a route for women to have incredible power. It’s the Reformation, with its disestablishment of the monasteries that women were restricted to one role.

  14. Nancy Baillie Strong's Gravatar Nancy Baillie Strong
    March 25, 2013 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    Terrific write-up for Frances! Wish I could vote twice…but my single vote goes to Hilda (or Hild)! Something about a “longitudinal” perspective (I suspect that even Frances would have appreciated that…)

  15. Mary Cox's Gravatar Mary Cox
    March 25, 2013 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    “Her profound ability to encourage others”–yes! That’s why Hilda is one of my favorite saints; as I reflect on all the people who have encouraged me in my life and work, I’ve come to believe that one of the most necessary–and saintly–things we can do as the Body of Christ is to encourage each other. And I like to think of Abbess Hilda encouraging–well, nagging, maybe–Caedmon, as my mother used to urge me, to “do something with your writing!”

  16. Martha's Gravatar Martha
    March 25, 2013 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Both deserve a vote….but I want more people to know about FP so she gets my vote.

  17. Rebecca Myers's Gravatar Rebecca Myers
    March 25, 2013 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Thanks Heidi Shott for your great piece about Frances Perkins. I learned more about her because I am a social worker and she was too. She was involved with the profession when it was young and I believe helped to shape it. I LOVED that her faith informed and was the foundation for her life and work. While the latest economic downturn has been tough, I don’t think we fully acknowledge that the hard work Frances Perkins accomplished prevented even deeper suffering….

  18. Patsy's Gravatar Patsy
    March 25, 2013 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Two wonderful write-ups and two wonderful saints. It’s going to be a close one. I voted for Hilda partily because she encouraged Caedmon to write [as an English prof, that really appealed to me].

  19. Patsy's Gravatar Patsy
    March 25, 2013 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    Sorry about that “partily.” P’raps I’ve coined a new word this morning.

  20. Hattie Robinson's Gravatar Hattie Robinson
    March 25, 2013 - 9:02 am | Permalink

    I was devastated after we lost the vote for female bishops in the Church of England. I really love my church and am keen to one day become a priest maybe. I nearly lost my faith, but seeing Saint Hild in all her glory made me think, maybe there is a chance for women to become bishops someday. My vote goes for Hild.

  21. Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson's Gravatar Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson
    March 25, 2013 - 9:04 am | Permalink

    I am in favor of recognizing the laity as worthy of being considered saints, not just as politicians or those not worthy of living Godly lives worth consideration of being emulated. Frances Perkins fought against male-dominated bureaucracy to labor for those “little people” belittled by a disgruntled former LENT MADNESS correspondent who obviously preferred more Christ-like disciples. Perkins has been recognized as a devoted disciple in the Episcopal Church by her superiors and peers for her God-given talents that still benefit countless numbers of American citizens who would have little, if anything, to even put in the offering plate without remembering who was largely responsible for what they, and we, have to offer as gifts and tithes.

  22. Gwin Hanahan's Gravatar Gwin Hanahan
    March 25, 2013 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    I am impressed by Hilda’s abilities with reconciliation, leadership, and humility, all informed by “her compassionate wisdom grounded in the Gospel.” I think of these qualities also in our Katherine, the Presiding Bishop.

  23. March 25, 2013 - 9:10 am | Permalink

    I believe Francis was as sincere as many other Christians in governments throughout the world adopting generous if not even Christian socialist programs (pre and post WWII). I agree that she is worthy of recognition for her faith and service. It was an incredibly challenging time to face poverty, hunger and more, and I do trust she acted as she thought best. Indeed, good did come from her efforts. As a Lutheran, I also agree with her ideas about grace. Yet from my past work and service, I have seen too much coruption related to such programs -sometimes the government, sometimes businesses taking advantage, and yes, sometimes involving the people served. As another coincidence with Lent Madness matchups, Cyprus and other countries are hurting today due to both big banks and big labor. Retirement and medical expenses are huge and part of their crisis. Sinner-saints (including me, as we all are even at our best) are not always as caring about others as we should be and such programs are often sadly abused. That’s not Francis’ fault and I recognize Social Security has been and still is a lifeline for many, but I’ll be voting for Hilda today. As a descendent of Two Kingdoms theology, I do indeed trust, understand, and demand that government has to be part of the solution, but we have to be smarter and demand more accountability and care. Government is a bureaucracy after all. People are imperfect. I also sometimes wonder if some of us rely on government as a solution to social ills way too much or (worse?) would rather pay taxes to support such programs than be in relationship with the poor. A heavy post I suppose for Lent Madness, but truly my thoughts as I vote today. With the animosity and black and white thinking that often accompanies such conversations (to our society’s detriment in my view), perhaps we better lift up an example of unity and love like Hilda.

    • Denice Patrick's Gravatar Denice Patrick
      March 25, 2013 - 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Look at the administrative costs in this county for social security-they are extremely low. Look at the administrative costs for traditional retirement plans on wall street-they are high. Plus, many of them lost more than half of their worth just a few years ago. There is nothing wrong with Social Security. What is wrong is that OUR GOVERNMENT has been taking money out of the fund for years and does not want to pay it back.

      • March 25, 2013 - 12:34 pm | Permalink

        Our government is a bureaucracy made of flawed humans overseeing the Social Security system. In addition, people do take advantage at times of the system. I can’t realy seperateall these things in my mind. I see it all together as imperfect, and I really only ask what we can do better – if anything. Too often, we attack one another rather than wrestle with the problem, part of which you correctly identify. (I am not saying you are doing that as your comments are both prudent and understood.) For these reasons, I say, “Go, Hilda!”

      • Mary Wueste's Gravatar Mary Wueste
        March 25, 2013 - 10:48 pm | Permalink

        Yes! Thank you for pointing that out. Social Security is not a “handout”, anyway–we pay into it all our working lives!!

        • Mary Wueste's Gravatar Mary Wueste
          March 25, 2013 - 10:49 pm | Permalink

          I was replying to Denice

        • BHamilton's Gravatar BHamilton
          March 25, 2013 - 11:56 pm | Permalink

          Yes, and most beneficiaries collect vastly more in proportion to what they have paid in.

          • Ernie Richardson's Gravatar Ernie Richardson
            March 26, 2013 - 12:07 am | Permalink

            NOT REALLY. Most of us work 40 to 45 years before collecting Social Security and many won’t live 15 years after they begin collecting Social Security. Figure out what we paid in, factor in minimal bank interest and then divide the result in 180 payments and you’ll find that in most cases, the Government should make money on Social Security.

          • BHamilton's Gravatar BHamilton
            March 26, 2013 - 12:54 am | Permalink

            From a recent article in the Tampa Bay Times:

            The Urban Institute, a non-partisan research institute in Washington, produces statistics on this topic annually. Institute researchers figured out what people turning 65 in various years have already “paid in” to the system and what can expect to “take out” after they reach age 65.

            Because marital status and family income can significantly affect both the amount paid in and the amount paid out, the institute offers its calculation for various types of family units. To make the final amounts comparable to what might have been done with the tax money had it been invested privately, the institute adjusted all dollar figures at 2 percentage points above the rate of inflation. (The authors note that different assumptions for long-term returns on investment would change the results.)

            According to the institute’s data, a two-earner couple receiving an average wage — $44,600 per spouse in 2012 dollars — and turning 65 in 2010 would have paid $722,000 into Social Security and Medicare and can be expected to take out $966,000 in benefits. So, this couple will be paid about one-third more in benefits than they paid in taxes.

            If a similar couple had retired in 1980, they would have gotten back almost three times what they put in. And if they had retired in 1960, they would have gotten back more than eight times what they paid in. The bigger discrepancies common decades ago can be traced in part to the fact that some of these individuals’ working lives came before Social Security taxes were collected beginning in 1937.

            Some types of families did much better than average. A couple with only one spouse working (and receiving the same average wage) would have paid in $361,000 if they turned 65 in 2010, but can expect to get back $854,000 — more than double what they paid in. In 1980, this same 65-year-old couple would have received five times more than what they paid in, while in 1960, such a couple would have ended up with 14 times what they put in.

            Such findings suggest that, even allowing for inflation and investment gains, many seniors will receive much more in benefits than what they paid in.

            Granted, new research shows trending that says Baby Boomers may likely be the first generation of beneficiaries for for whom this is not true. But we digress…

            The point for LM is that whether the story is about defending Celtic forms of Christianity by fighting political battles against Romanization… or tackling the complex maze of trying to create equity and justice out of social policy… both of these women tackled important issues of their time and have given us great examples to emulate.

            Hurrah for both.

  24. ChurchLady's Gravatar ChurchLady
    March 25, 2013 - 9:10 am | Permalink

    Both women are worthy of winning, but I can’t help but wonder how successful Perkins would have been in her cause without the support and open-mindedness of her boss, FDR. This doesn’t diminish her accomplishments or her Christian zeal, but another President may not have given her the chance to make such sweeping changes in governmental policy.
    Perhaps Hilda also benefited from being in the right place at the right time (and from the support of St. Aidan), but somehow it seems that she would have made her mark regardless of which men were in power at the time. And, she did it all while coping with the harshness of daily life in Anglo-Saxon England.
    Frances rocks, but my vote goes to Hilda.

  25. Dana's Gravatar Dana
    March 25, 2013 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    Go Frances! Why are people such downers on someone who worked so hard for everyone…? As a woman, I am trying hard (and currently succeeding!) not to be offended by the continuous criticism of her value and place in this FUN contest. Thank you Heidi for your quote: “Through incredible hard work and determination and in the midst of a political and social climate that is UNIMAGINABLE for a late-boomer woman like me…” All the saints deserve our votes – but it is a game and someone always loses eventually.

  26. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    March 25, 2013 - 9:19 am | Permalink


  27. March 25, 2013 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    Kudos to Heidi and Laurie for magnificent, inspiring, and moving portraits of these two women.

  28. March 25, 2013 - 9:25 am | Permalink

    My name indicates my dual loyalty. Yet, long before I came to Maine, Francis Perkins was a formative force in my life and ministry. It is work, yes, to encourage others and seek unity above personal preference. But to devote a lifetime to the uplifting of an entire nation’s “anawim” with dogged determination, and to apply the force of will to such complex and challenging issues of social and economic justice, drawing on every point of human connection and binding her will with deep Christian conviction and a personal sense of God’s extravagant grace…Frances Perkins wins the day for me.
    Her witness is not just a testimony to the combined power of God’s grace and human will. Frances was an advocate. I’ve worked with the voiceless–both the literally nonverbal and those whose voices have been silenced by larger systems. Frances took on the challenge of advocacy and became a voice for thousands–even millions–of people dismissed and/or silenced by The Powers That Be. She raised up the vital concerns of children, women, refugees, elders, people with disabilities, and an entire nation’s working, suffering poor. She refused to let her own voice be dismissed, and she kept up the fight until most of her enormous causes were won! I marvel at the enduring strength of her voice. I marvel at the enormity of human suffering she personally eased, ended, and prevented. I marvel at the millions of lives that continue to be touched and aided and mended because of her successful mission.

    With a deep bow of respect to Saint Hild, this Celtic Christian casts a vote for Frances Perkins.

  29. March 25, 2013 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    Both write-ups are wonderful. Thank you!

    As her commentator wrote, “She stood with unified dignity . . . ” Hilda gets my vote. She was an encourager, and the world needs more of her kind.

  30. Peg's Gravatar Peg
    March 25, 2013 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    I choose the radiant and encouraging Hild, whose “calm love” reaches beyond her home, beyond her time to foster creation, cooperation, and caring that reaches all the way to my breakfast table and into my modern heart. I’m so glad to have learned about Hild and about Frances Perkins, who carried out her own loving works, set her own courageous example, and made America a better place for all.

  31. Grace Burton-Edwards's Gravatar Grace Burton-Edwards
    March 25, 2013 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    While I hope this is not too grandiose, I see my vote as a witness, and the question is audience. A vote for Hilda is a witness to the Church in need of her spirit of encouragement and unity. A vote for Frances is a witness to a society that seems in danger of neglecting the common good. If Hilda wins the Golden Halo, I’m not convinced that the rest of the Church will pay that much attention. However, if Frances wins, given the attention Lent Madness receives in popular press during March Madness, I dare to hope that her concern for all, especially for those who may seem to some to be least deserving, may influence public conversation about Social Security, health care, and student debt. I voted for Frances.

    • Joy Cass's Gravatar Joy Cass
      March 25, 2013 - 10:04 am | Permalink

      Thank you.

    • Janis Rosebrook's Gravatar Janis Rosebrook
      March 25, 2013 - 11:48 am | Permalink

      My thoughts exactly. Her legacy lives on in social programs that are under attack now and must be preserved. They help those that need our protection the most. VOTE for Frances!!

    • March 25, 2013 - 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Interesting take, and likely quite true. Thanks for sharing.

  32. March 25, 2013 - 9:52 am | Permalink

    ARGH! Of all the tough choices, today’s is the WORST for me! As a laywoman, my heart is with Frances Perkins, who showed all of us the truth of Mother Teresa’s insight that we are all called to be holy whatever our vocations. And yet, as a lay member of a religious order devoted to liturgical scholarship, I am profoundly grateful for Abbess Hild’s example of encouragement of others’ godly gifts and her unselfish support for unity in the Church. Both of these holy women show us the multifaceted face of the God Who is Love. I have learned SO MUCH from this year’s Lent Madness! With a lump in my throat and tears of sisterly love for both of these saints, I cast my vote for …

  33. Marj's Gravatar Marj
    March 25, 2013 - 9:53 am | Permalink

    I intended to vote for Francis but inadvertently voted for Hilda. Holy Spirit? Or tiny print on my phone ? It being Holy Week, I’ll go with the advocate and comforter.

  34. MarcN's Gravatar MarcN
    March 25, 2013 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    I’m puzzled by the comments “who is a saint?”, “Frances isn’t a saint”, etc. For the purposes of Lent Madness, anyone the organizer has included is qualified to compete. You can ask the question elsewhere, but her you certainly cannot. I would also submit that matches between recent, historical, and legendary candidates are unfair the the more recent. We keep the best stuff from the past and forget the less pleasant or confusing bits. This leads me to favor the more recent hagiotestants in Lent Madness, so go Frances!

  35. Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
    March 25, 2013 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    This. Is going. To be. CLOSE. Hilda!

  36. Rob's Gravatar Rob
    March 25, 2013 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    As we enter the final phase, let’s not be too hasty to vote for the youngest, the newest, or the most modern. Just because they are “contemporaries” does not mean they have a greater insight or greater spirituality, perhaps in Perkin’s case it was just a better relationship with modern media. We seem caught up in the importance of and significance of our own times and places and events and cannot look into the past for the contributions these saints made to our beliefs and spirituality today. Go Hilda.

  37. Rachel K's Gravatar Rachel K
    March 25, 2013 - 9:58 am | Permalink

    Among my friends, I am known for asking obnoxious questions, so here are two:
    What would the church (and the world) be like if Hilda had peacefully but strenuously resisted the Roman swallowing up of Celtic practice?
    What would the world (and the church) be like if Frances had not taken what the church taught her and used it to reshape a world in turmoil?
    I guess Episcopalians value unity more than Baptists do. My vote for Frances.

  38. Carolyn's Gravatar Carolyn
    March 25, 2013 - 10:10 am | Permalink

    What a choice. Do I vote for unity in the Church or living into baptismal vows to respect the dignity of every human being. I chose Frances whose work is still being dismissed as undesirable way to help people.

  39. Rev. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Rev. Lucy Porter
    March 25, 2013 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    Today I vote for Hilda of Whitby, manager of Christian houses, encourager of poets, proponent of unity in the midst of controversy over non-essentials, a role model about whom I intend to continue learning. But I also give thanks to God for Frances, and for the work she did which enables me and so many others to live in some comfort in retirement.

  40. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    March 25, 2013 - 10:17 am | Permalink

    Have you ever wished to see what the score is before voting? Rest assured, at least at this point, knowing how others are voting will help you not one bit. So stop agonizing and enjoy a wonderful matchup between two worthies.

  41. Joy's Gravatar Joy
    March 25, 2013 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    Seriously considered not voting today. Both women of faith, determination, clear vision, willingness and energy to “overstep their bounds” as their times would have it. Finally went with Hilda. I mean, it’s one thing to have overstepped your bounds as a woman of the 20th century, but of the 7th century? Wow! (Besides, Mother Ruth, CHS, founder of St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s School, my alma mater, is still sitting on my shoulder, pinching me hard, and I need to make her stop!)

  42. Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
    March 25, 2013 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    Again, a difficult choice, but I have to vote for Frances, since I do believe that she worked hard at what she believed in. That does not take away from Hild, but Frances has it for me.

  43. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    March 25, 2013 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    “They lived not only in ages past, there are hundreds if thousands still. The world is bright with the joyous saints who love to do Jesus’ will….for the saints of God are just folk like me and I mean to be one, too.” (I Sing a Sing of the Saints of God, verse 3, Lesbia Scott)

    Thank you, Lent Madness, for illumining all these wonderful people this Lenten Season. What a marvelous journey. Saints can be from the long ago past or the present; from Biblical times, the dark ages, the medieval period, or our own time. They can do their work from a monastery, on the streets among the poor or in the halls of government. They can be martyrs or live long productive lives. They can be quiet encouragers, firebrands or strong advocates. Let’s never limited the definition. Just folk like us: followers of the Way.

    • Peg's Gravatar Peg
      March 25, 2013 - 10:58 am | Permalink


    • Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
      March 25, 2013 - 11:19 am | Permalink

      Right on! And thank you for reminding me/us.

    • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
      March 25, 2013 - 7:04 pm | Permalink

      I’m not certain that hymn is even in the hymnal anymore — though I remember singing it frequently in youth choir at St. Patrick’s (Thousand Oaks, CA) in the 1970s.

      • Ernie Richardson's Gravatar Ernie Richardson
        March 25, 2013 - 7:17 pm | Permalink

        I sing a Song of the Saints of God (Hymn Tune Grand Isle) is Hymn 293 in the Hymnal 1982. I’ve heard it sung at several funeral recently. Want it for mine.

      • Sarah Lawton's Gravatar Sarah Lawton
        March 25, 2013 - 7:19 pm | Permalink

        #293 in the 1982 Hymnal. Definitely still in use! Now you have me humming it.

      • Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
        March 25, 2013 - 7:22 pm | Permalink

        I Sing a Song of the Saints of God from The Hymnal 1982 #293

  44. B Davis's Gravatar B Davis
    March 25, 2013 - 10:28 am | Permalink

    Frances Perkins was not a politician, but a woman who spent her entire life working for the disadvantaged. She worked in the settlement house movement. She fought for policy change after the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. She was a wife and mother who was the sole provider of her own family. And yes, she gave us Social Security. She also gave us unemployment insurance, laws against child labor, the minimum wage, and the 40 hour work week.

    None of this lessens St. Hilda. But please don’t write off someone who gave her life to helping the poor as a “politician” especially as she never held elected office and started her career before women could even vote.

  45. The Holy Fool's Gravatar The Holy Fool
    March 25, 2013 - 10:33 am | Permalink

    Old VS New. The Holy Fool goes with Hida.

  46. Vivienne P's Gravatar Vivienne P
    March 25, 2013 - 10:44 am | Permalink

    As I have been voting all along, and I have been reading comments all along… I restrained from convoluting the pool. However, today I must because I am disheartened by the above comment “not to let Mount Holyoke take away our Lent Madness”. A very important fact about Frances Perkins has been left out, and perhaps her greatest strength. Frances Perkins IS NOT AN ORDINARY MOUNT HOLYOKE ALUMNI, but she is the MATRON of sorts for the FRANCES PERKINS PROGRAM, a program which allows women over the age of 24 (including our oldest graduate this year, 60+) to complete their college education. It bothers me that this is completely glossed over. We are given an amazing second chance and assistance to achieve both our personal and professional goals in honor of a woman who truly embodies the ideals of the program. To be recognized as a FRANCES PERKINS SCHOLAR is not a mark of being a non-traditional undergraduate student, but one of ACCOMPLISHMENT and STRUGGLE. Every woman who has been through the program since it was founded in 1980 did so by overcoming tremendous challenges. Some of us could not afford college, others had multiple responsibilities that prevented us, and all still struggle while here. However, we embody the very reasons Frances fought for workers rights and became the Secretary of Labor. Our graduates go on to achieve great things in their lives. In addition, ALL FRANCES PERKINS SCHOLARS have been active in their communities both prior to application, during matriculation, and after graduation. Currently, there are FP Scholars working with PLEN Women and Public Policy, Working in Washington to help developing communities, serving the medical communities AT THEIR OWN COST in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, there was one woman who recently served as a UN Delegate for the COmmission on the status of Women and now has been awarded a Fullbright Scholarship studying Urban Planning and Development in New Zealand. So I am sorry if I take offense to the idea that Frances does not inspire as many people as Hilda. I feel not only that are we inspired and motivated by Frances Perkins, but she is the reason that we are allowed a chance to move forward, chase our dreams, and achieve greatness not for ourselves but for a better tomorrow.

    • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
      March 25, 2013 - 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for posting this – it is great information.

  47. Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
    March 25, 2013 - 10:45 am | Permalink

    Thank you Millie! Excellent write-ups today. Frances for me. Encouraging others is fine but I vote for the woman of action. We could use more like her in the times we face now – coming up with creative and thoughtful solutions to our real problems. Followers of the Way.

  48. mkahn's Gravatar mkahn
    March 25, 2013 - 10:50 am | Permalink

    On a lighter note, I hope that I have such difficulties choosing who to cheer for when four Big Ten teams are in the “other” final four. Of course, on the women’s side, it is Notre Dame all the way. From a lay person who has time for both brackets this Holy Week.

  49. Ruth Ann Nelson's Gravatar Ruth Ann Nelson
    March 25, 2013 - 10:51 am | Permalink

    Grace Burton-Edwards you swayed me to the side of Frances. A great post. Thank you.

  50. Marge's Gravatar Marge
    March 25, 2013 - 10:52 am | Permalink

    Love Hilda’s defense of Celtic approach to Christianity but without Frances I and many of my friends might be living in hovels or even cardboard boxes. My vote goes to Frances

  51. faye's Gravatar faye
    March 25, 2013 - 10:53 am | Permalink

    Meryl Streep to play both women in screenplays written by Laurie and Heidi. Thank you both for making the decision so though provoking and difficult. What is Celtic Christianity. At a time when all Christians get lumped together …. And why didn’t Frances succeed with health care?

    • Gloria Rousseau's Gravatar Gloria Rousseau
      March 25, 2013 - 12:57 pm | Permalink

      She started the move to health care since Social Security and Medicare go together.

  52. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 25, 2013 - 11:00 am | Permalink

    Both are worthy of support, but my vote goes to Hild, for her love of learning, her gift of encouragement and her willingness to work for unity at great personal cost. And also as someone wrestling with the mess the C of E has made of women bishops, because of the crozier she holds in the icon from round 1. She would make a worthy bishop and her gifts are much needed today.

  53. Louise's Gravatar Louise
    March 25, 2013 - 11:05 am | Permalink

    It’s amazing really that we should be considering the merits of both St Hilda and Frances Perkins in the same breath. I wonder if the 20th century woman could have had her voice heard were it not for the 7th century abess and those she encouraged? My vote goes with St Hilda!

  54. Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
    March 25, 2013 - 11:22 am | Permalink

    Wish I could vote for both.

  55. March 25, 2013 - 11:30 am | Permalink

    Frances Perkins attained more than I would or could hope in my life. However useful to contributions of Frances, Hilda gave something else: she offered her humility in service in a way that encouraged others to excel.

    • michelle's Gravatar michelle
      March 25, 2013 - 11:40 am | Permalink

      I revere Hilda for so many reasons, but this is frightening time to be a disabled American who struggles economically

  56. Irene's Gravatar Irene
    March 25, 2013 - 11:40 am | Permalink

    What everybody said. But from my admittedly limited perspective, in the United States of 2013, when “Don’t you think it’s wrong for people to get things they don’t pay for?” is not just a quaint question from ancient history, Frances’s vision of the gospel seems more immediately needed.

  57. March 25, 2013 - 11:40 am | Permalink

    Jonathan Daniels was robbed. MLK too!
    # losing faith in Episcopeeps!

    • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
      March 25, 2013 - 2:22 pm | Permalink

      I agree – MLK ouster was a surprise to me too. I was certain the Halo final would be Luke vs. MLK (not my preference, necessarily, but that’s what I predicted).

      I won’t say “robbed”, though. This is LM – there is no robbing here, only voting… in a world where God sometimes chooses the unexpected to go on to do extraordinary things…in a season where people’s (flawed?) voting can go on to yield some very unexpected results… (cf “Crucify him!”).

  58. Allison Askins's Gravatar Allison Askins
    March 25, 2013 - 11:52 am | Permalink

    Will someone please tell me what Spy Wednesday is?
    A Lent Madness event or a day in Holy Week I have missed all these years ?
    Oh, and I had to go with Frances though I deeply admire the peace and encouragement Hilda provided this world. Perhaps she encouraged Frances.

  59. Rob's Gravatar Rob
    March 25, 2013 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m voting for Hilda, because I think her example of humility and encouragement is desperately needed today. It’s easy to break into camps and attack each other. It’s much harder to find a way to live together after the fighting is over.

  60. Lauren Stanley's Gravatar Lauren Stanley
    March 25, 2013 - 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I can imagine Hilda telling Frances, with her big ideas written on a scrap of paper, “You go for it! You demand to be able to do these things, or you refuse the job.” Hilda would have encouraged Frances to do the good work that needed to be done … which is why I voted for Frances. Because she knew what needed to be done, and she got it done. Not from a political standpoint, but because she cared for people, and knew she could make an incredible difference in people’s lives. Go, Frances!!!

  61. March 25, 2013 - 12:05 pm | Permalink

    The Archbishops have released the following video:

  62. Allison Askins's Gravatar Allison Askins
    March 25, 2013 - 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Sister Winifred … thank you! I have learned yet something else from Lent Madness and this wonderful community of lively pilgrims!

  63. carla's Gravatar carla
    March 25, 2013 - 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Both amazing women used their political skills to bring about change that is still felt today. However, Frances reminds us that the compassionate society we claim is in danger of further deterioration. We need her voice.

  64. Michelle J's Gravatar Michelle J
    March 25, 2013 - 12:32 pm | Permalink

    After reading 2 of J Phillip Newell’s books, “Listening to the Heartbeat of God” and “Christ of the Celts” I began to wonder what Christianity would be like if Hilda and her way of worship had carried the day in the Council of Whitby. It seems that a huge opportunity was lost there, to be the church that understands God to be immanent in nature, as well as transcendent, to be a church of people, not just a church of structures and walls. Frances Perkins is a good person, but I think it takes more than that to be a saint. Hilda tried to shape the whole church. I wish she had been able to do so. We would all be a lot better off now, if she had.

  65. March 25, 2013 - 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Vote for the original Sistah Souljah, HILDA!!

  66. Ernie Richardson's Gravatar Ernie Richardson
    March 25, 2013 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brave and true. For all of them were saints of God and I mean to be one too. This Anglican hymn says it all: Frances is as much a saint as is Hilda. From my standpoint, I’ll take the woman who made such a difference in millions of American’s lives: Frances.

  67. March 25, 2013 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I was on the fence u til I read Vivienne P.’s post – – and as a non-traditional aged university undergraduate, that tipped me over to Saint Frances of the Cabinet.

  68. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    March 25, 2013 - 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I live in the Diocese of San Joaquin, so I vote for Hilda: we need a witness of reconciliation so badly. I admire Perkins, but Hilda gets my vote today. (And when in doubt, which I usually am, I vote for the elders who laid foundations for us…)

    • Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
      March 25, 2013 - 7:47 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Exactly.

  69. March 25, 2013 - 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Hilda. The original Sistah Souljah!!

  70. Daniel Stroud's Gravatar Daniel Stroud
    March 25, 2013 - 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I worry a bit that with this contest we’re showing what’s going on in our broader church that concerns me. While I’m a huge fan of the new deal, was an organizer for a union, and was a progressive political staffer for years, but why is it that we prize only progressive social change over our spiritual foundation? Why is it that when a 20-something year old pushes a little girl out of the way to take a shotgun blast for her, he’s faulted for “not having accomplished (as much as Perkins)” As one person said? Why is it that when we have people who dedicated their whole life to the church and achieved positions of power within the church they’re faulted for not being humble or lowly enough? I can’t act like it doesn’t worry me that we’ve just decided that nice people who advocate for progressive and liberal social policies are our new saints, rather than those whose whole life stands as witness to the sacrificial love of Christ.

    • Daniel Stroud's Gravatar Daniel Stroud
      March 25, 2013 - 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Why is it*, not but why.
      As should be as, #DYAC

    • March 25, 2013 - 4:02 pm | Permalink

      I think you are right, but there are also the facts of the Dept. of Labor votes for Frances Perkins and how indebted people feel toward her for social security. . . not saying that’s right or wrong, but only that those things are influencing the vote as much if not more than any idea or thought of spirituality or holiness.

  71. Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
    March 25, 2013 - 1:33 pm | Permalink

    There’s something about the ministry of encouraging that touched me deeply. Hilda it is.

  72. Eve's Gravatar Eve
    March 25, 2013 - 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Great write ups, Heidi and Laurie! But managing to get Ferris Bueller in there really takes the crown! Oh yeah, and Francis, too!
    Thank you, Lent Madness for a Holy Lent!

  73. Mary Winston's Gravatar Mary Winston
    March 25, 2013 - 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t heard the term “Spy Wednesday” since my elementary school days – I was beginning to think I made it up and I join Ellen’s chant – Hil-DA HIL-DA !!! I am so glad that I learned more about her and the other saints during this Lent Madness. I too thank you for a Holy Lent!

  74. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    March 25, 2013 - 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Vivienne P. – thank you for speaking out for those who attend(ed) Mt. Holyoak, for the Frances Perkins Scholars (which I’m delighted to learn about today) and for all women who struggle to achieve goals for themselves and their world.

    I know that both Hilda and Frances did this in their own way in their own time. Some of us are encouragers and some are activists. We have two great examples of each way before us. Either would be worthy of the Golden Halo.

    In the final analysis, however, as much as I love Hilda and the Celtic tradition. I had to support Frances all the way. We cannot conceive, in our comfortable view from the 21st century, what it was like before the implementation of the basic human rights we now take for granted: 40 hour work weeks, no child labor, disability, workmens’ comp, medical benefits, unemployment benefits, social security. The achievement of these benefits was a hurculean feat against almost insurmountable odds. Frances is one of the most heroic women I know to have fought the battle and prevailed. And she did not receive the recognition for this until more recent years. FDR did. Now these supports are being threatened. We must continue to insure they are available for generations to come. Frances winning the Golden Halo may help us, as the church corporate, continue to be a strong voice of advocacy for human rights. She can be the banner around which we rally and continue to move forward not slip backward. Yes, there are problems in the system but let’s figure out how to fix them. That’s what Frances (and Hilda, too, for that matter) would do.

    Frances Perkins all the way to the Golden Halo!!

  75. Alysha Collins's Gravatar Alysha Collins
    March 25, 2013 - 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Frances you are my hero. You seem to be responsible for the only income I have to live on…My S.S. Security disability. I’m sure thousands of others would thank you also if they knew your story.

  76. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    March 25, 2013 - 2:33 pm | Permalink

    MLK’s halo shines brightly and he receives many well deserved accolades all the time. Not surprised.he stepped aside to allow another her time in the limelight! Sometimes we need to sing the unsung heroine!

  77. Robert Kent's Gravatar Robert Kent
    March 25, 2013 - 3:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m for Frances Perkins. When asked, “Don’t you think it’s wrong for people to get things they don’t pay for?” She replied,
    “Why no, I find I get so much more than I pay for. Don’t you?” So very true, as any saint would know. Don’t you?

  78. Deborah Anne's Gravatar Deborah Anne
    March 25, 2013 - 3:25 pm | Permalink

    After voting for Frances, I read today marks the 102 anniversary of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist fire in NYC, which becaming a rallying point in US the labor movement. Coincidence? I think not.

  79. March 25, 2013 - 3:28 pm | Permalink

    After she wins the Golden Halo, we’ll need to vote onwho will play Frances Perkins in the movie. Ideas? Discuss . . . and: The people of the US Department of Labor (who have been working for America’s workers for 100 years) are proud of our Patron Saint.

    • Sarah Lawton's Gravatar Sarah Lawton
      March 25, 2013 - 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Meryl Streep, obviously!

  80. March 25, 2013 - 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m still not over the vote going against MLK, but that’s not why I’m voting for Hilda.

  81. Sarah Lawton's Gravatar Sarah Lawton
    March 25, 2013 - 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Well, I’m a member of a proud union household and not unrelatedly at all, a lifelong Episcopalian, Anglo-Catholic flavor; spent my childhood in a church that had and actually used a monstrance on occasion. Learned to sing Anglican chant at the age of six when I joined the choir, all decked out in my teensy little cassock and cotta and pigtails. So there. 🙂

    I do think the discussion of what is sainthood is important (though perhaps unresolvable in our church that draws from both Protestant and Catholic strands), and have appreciated the several blog posts out there about it. All Saints’ is my favorite holiday after the Great Vigil and the whole Triduum of course, and Christmas and Pentecost, i.e., the biggies; I had both my kids baptized on All Saints’, not by happenstance. The great cloud of witnesses is real to me, almost palpably, certainly mystically, so. All of them–ancient, medieval, modern. I’ve voted for some of each in this LM. There is no “anti” vote in LM on my part. MLK is a personal hero, and my family has a personal connection to Jon Daniels.

    But we really do need ’em all! What is it Saint Paul said about the different parts of the body not being able to say, I have no need of you? One of the best parts for me of saying the Daily Office is the chance to learn about and meditate on these folks in all of their particularity–a different one almost every day, each pointing to a different kind of witness, but each walking the way of the cross. This is probably also why I play LM, even though it hurts at times to vote.

    I have many friends through my labor circles who love Frances, and a good number of them are not Christian–they are Jews, Hindus, Buddhist, “nones,” atheists. I share their love for her, but my vote here is not their vote. I vote for her here because of her Christian witness. She was an adult confirmand in the Episcopal Church, a faithful communicant, and one who sought retreat and spiritual direction with an Anglican order of sisters. I believe the only way she was able to do what she did, over many years and over much hostility and/or indifference, was through her faith. Her vocation as a lay person carried her out into the weekday world to be the Church in our messy, broken world. She fought through the principalities and powers of this world to address systemic causes of poverty and inequality.

    We can’t take any of this for granted. I really believe that if child labor laws or workers’ comp, let alone Social Security, were to come up for a vote today in Congress, they would fail. What she did to move FDR and Congress both was amazing. That’s not even counting her work in New York State, New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Decades of faithful struggle.

    As for her being a “politician” or “bureaucrat” — in their contexts, Gregory, Hilda, the Iggys, and of course MLK were also politicians. Church and state were deeply intertwined in ancient and medieval times. More than that though, being of and in this crazy world outside the church walls, including in political spheres and institutions and businesses, as well as streets and homes, is one of the primary vocations of the laity, no? Why put that down? It’s not an easy calling to live out one’s Christian faith well within these contexts. Well done, Frances, good and faithful servant.

    Postscript, a couple of links:

    1. On the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, whose 102nd anniversary is today (March 25, 1911). Frances happened to witness the fire as she lived nearby. On that day, 146 young workers, mostly immigrant girls between the ages of 13-22, lost their lives within 18 minutes. Frances never forgot the sight and sound of the girls jumping together, 2-3 at a time and holding hands, to the pavement and death to escape the flames and the locked doors. That day, she vowed to make a difference. More info here:

    2. The scourge of child labor–which still goes on throughout the world but has largely been stopped in the USA thanks in no small measure to Frances. Check out these photos by Lewis Hines, a contemporary of Frances. It took her another 30 years to win this fight though.

  82. Yan's Gravatar Yan
    March 25, 2013 - 3:47 pm | Permalink

    I vote for Hilda of Whitby , because my Mother Cynthia told me to do so.
    A mother we should listen!!!!!!

  83. Sarah R.'s Gravatar Sarah R.
    March 25, 2013 - 4:07 pm | Permalink

    This just in: I channeled Frances and she told me she is voting for St. Hilda as well. Wow, what a class act. Go Hilda!

  84. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    March 25, 2013 - 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Sarah Lawton, beautifully said.

  85. Ephrem Hugh Bensusan's Gravatar Ephrem Hugh Bensusan
    March 25, 2013 - 5:37 pm | Permalink

    It is interesting to note Dorothy Day’s assessment of Perkins’ great bureaucratic opera fidei:

    “We believe that social security legislation, now balled as a great victory for the poor and for the worker, is a great defeat for Christianity. It is an acceptance of the Idea of force and compulsion. It is an acceptance of Cain’s statement, on the part of the employer. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

    Of course, Day did not spare Frances’ boss either:

    “Roosevelt will be elected on the platform of Cake and Circuses. During the depression years the relief checks flowed in, and now during the war years the government checks come regularly on the first of every month. The millions who are thus bought and paid for do not want any change.”

    But in an Episcopal Church given over pretty thoroughly to the proposition that partisan political wheel-and-deal coupled with reasonably competent administration of a bureaucracy somehow constitutes saintliness, I should not be surprised that Frances Perkins, by all accounts a generally good person, would be beating Hilda of Whitby, a real Saint.

  86. Anne of Memphis's Gravatar Anne of Memphis
    March 25, 2013 - 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Hilda Hilda Hilda! You’re our saint!!

  87. Sarah Lawton's Gravatar Sarah Lawton
    March 25, 2013 - 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Ephrem, Dorothy Day very much had an outside-in view and strategy, which the Catholic Worker movement continues to this day. It’s an important and prophetic perspective. I think we need the Dorothys witnessing from the outside and the Franceses working the inside … both with a laser focus on the poor. Like I said, we need ’em all.
    Curious if you voted for Dorothy a few days ago over Luke?

    • March 25, 2013 - 6:34 pm | Permalink

      . . . and we also NEED the Hildas and Lukes of the world, and in spite of the fact that they have gotten little reward in this season of Lent Madness, we also need those who care enough of die for someone else.

      • Sarah Lawton's Gravatar Sarah Lawton
        March 25, 2013 - 6:45 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, which is why I’ve voted for both Luke and Hilda previously, and that wonderful church builder, Absalom Jones. I got my whole extended family to vote for Jonathan Daniels. I’ll be fiercely promoting San Oscar Romero de las Americas tomorrow.

        It’s not a zero-sum game (despite the LM set up, sigh). We really do need them all. Let’s rejoice at every vote cast for any of these holy persons.

        • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
          March 25, 2013 - 9:03 pm | Permalink

          Amen, sister (except for the sigh – LM is what it is! no apologies for the set-up in the absurd game of picking ‘the best’ saint!)
          Today’s choice was hard. Tomorrow’s is simpler – Romero.

  88. Jason's Gravatar Jason
    March 25, 2013 - 7:02 pm | Permalink

    As a gay Episcopalian-to-be (I’m getting baptized at the Easter vigil!), inspired this way by my close friends and the former Bishop Robinson, I have to vote for Hilda and hope that more and more in the communion can follow her example.

  89. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    March 25, 2013 - 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Voted for Hilda. Simple reason- I was raised by nuns and can’t vote against one. Sr Isobel would weep and Sr Presentina would stab herself with her ruler, the way she did when she taught us Julius Caesar.

  90. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    March 25, 2013 - 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I find it kind of interesting, actually, that in the end, the Final Four make up a rather “traditional” – and BTW pretty well-balanced – lineup: an Evangelist, a medieval abbess, a bishop-Martyr – and then the Cinderella laywoman Frances Perkins.

    Not bad, all in all, I’d say. Voted for Hilda today; I’ll be interested to see what happens tomorrow….

  91. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    March 25, 2013 - 7:07 pm | Permalink

    (Congrats on your baptism, Jason – that’s fantastic!)

  92. Molly R's Gravatar Molly R
    March 25, 2013 - 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Today’s match-up was emotionally charged today because of my resentment of these two saints’ victories over some beloved saints. However, I could not help but be moved by the write-ups. Thank you CBs for dissipating my vexation.
    Regarding my choice, I would just echo Sheldon’s post and say: Hilda. Dear Hilda, I do not know what I want to do in the morning. Please shine a little light on my path so I my find my next step. Amen.

  93. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    March 25, 2013 - 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Tessa Lucero, “I Sing A Song if the Saints of God” is most assuredly in the Hymnal 1982, #293!

  94. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    March 25, 2013 - 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I agree, Jason, and I think both Hilda and Frances will embrace you!

  95. March 25, 2013 - 9:01 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t know anything about Hilda before this. Thank for you an enlightening essay. She seems like a ‘backbone’ kind of person, the kind that makes things possible because of her unfailing encouragement, tenacity and belief in supporting a person in their best efforts – someone who makes good people become great ones.

  96. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    March 25, 2013 - 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Hilda of Whitby was a powerful leader in the mid 7th century. She was not bound by modern notions of male female division of labor. She was bound by Celtic notions. Peter Tremayne explains the Celtic, Druid and Christian melded culture in the six page intro to his novel Absolution by Murder. I’d like to know more about the ‘discussions’ at the Synod of Whitby, but in the meantime, I’m voting for A bass Hilda.

  97. Susie's Gravatar Susie
    March 25, 2013 - 10:24 pm | Permalink

    So many deserving folks to choose from!! Scott & Tim, I wanted to tell you THANK YOU for the fun learning I’ve experienced this Lent–I really appreciate you both –this ol’ world needs more of you! This was my first LM & hope you continue the Madness for many more years! God bless.

  98. Celeste's Gravatar Celeste
    March 26, 2013 - 12:40 am | Permalink

    Seems to me Bishop Lawrence of Massachusetts & JP Morgan should have a mention ( unless I missed it) in Frances Perkins story because they provided the model, known as the Church Pension Fund, for Social Security. Alas, Social Security chose to set aside an important stipulation Larence & JP made – to be fully funded.

  99. BHamilton's Gravatar BHamilton
    March 26, 2013 - 7:36 am | Permalink

    I am sure that this morning, Hilda is picking herself up, dusting herself off, straightening her wimple and getting back to work — encouraging all of us toward love and unity. Go Hilda.

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