Lent Beyond the Madness

February 22, 2015
Scott Gunn

This morning at 8 a.m., we learned that Molly Brant had defeated Swithun to earn a spot in the Saintly Sixteen. This will be the only Sunday morning voting result of Lent Madness 2015. For many Lent Madness fans, today will be hard, because this is the first day in Lent without any voting. People will be twiddling their thumbs, constantly refreshing their web browsers, or scouring their homes for something purple. This unsettled feeling is familiar to veterans here, and it's called Lent Madness Withdrawal (LMW). This one day won't be so bad, but future weekends will involve two days without voting. So to help with LMW, and even more important, to suggest some other ways to engage Lenten practices, we thought we'd share a few ideas.

lentAlthough the Supreme Executive Committee commends Lent Madness to every man, woman, child, dog, and ferret, we also acknowledge that the saintly smackdown is only part of a well-rounded diet of Lenten discipline. As we wrote on Ash Wednesday, "This Lenten season, we invite you to draw closer to our Lord Jesus. Give up those things which keep you away from Jesus. Take on those things that bring you closer to Jesus."

Here are a few ideas for Lenten practices that might bring you closer to Jesus.

  • Episcopal Relief & Development has produced some excellent daily devotions for the Lenten season. You can read these online for free, although the SEC encourages you to make a donation to support their work.
  • Our official sponsor, Forward Movement, has an entire section of their vast online store devoted to Lenten and Easter resources. Check them out. Because Lent has already begun, you might especially check out their collection of ebooks, available for Kindle, Nook, and iBook.
  • The brothers at the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) are releasing daily videos on the theme "It’s time to...Stop, Pray, Work, Play & Love. There's also a free workbook for download.
  • Anglicans Online lists an array of resources for this season from around the Anglican Communion.
  • Check out #LivingLent from the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
  • Make sure you learn about the offerings at your local church. Online activities are great, but even the SEC encourages Christians to be part of an in-person worshipping community and a small group for study.

There are lots more resources. Please leave your favorites in the comments. And set your alarms, because the voting resumes tomorrow morning as Hadewijch takes on Juan Diego starting at 8 a.m. EST.


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65 comments on “Lent Beyond the Madness”

  1. This blog, based on the "An Australian Lectionary" summarises the Bible readings for Morning and Evening Prayer, provides a morning collect and an evening collect framed from the themes in the readings. It has photographs of Australia - rural and remote, gardens and creatures - that help reflection. It has been going for a year and there are more USA readers than Australians - so don't be deterred that the Lectionary is a bit different.
    Though upside down we are all going on the same journey. The blog works on phones and tablets.
    From Mulwala, Australia.

  2. I wish the links for Anglicans Online Rsources for Lent and Easter were actually up to date.

  3. I heard the most amazing program from St. Paul's Cathedral in London. ABC Justin Welby
    spoke on how to keep a good Lent. I can't do justice to it, but it is easy to find online. I
    suscribe to ST. Paul's through Facebook, so that's how I learned about it. Listen to it. You
    will be so happy to have done so.

    1. Thank you for posting this information. I did listen and found it informative, uplifting and hopefully doable (I hope).

  4. This morning we had our third Ash Sunday-- here's the rationale I published in our Newsletter: "We are doing this because the Ash Wednesday Liturgy is so profound, its invitation to a holy Lent so important, and the imposition of ashes as a sign of our mortality so poignant, that I want as many parishioners as possible to experience it— not least our children, who have seldom attended Ash Wednesday services these past many years." The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Are there any other churches who celebrate Ash Sunday?

    1. I'm confused. Sundays are feasts of the Resurrection. How can a day of fasting be observed then? Why move the service from the spot appointed by our prayer book?

      When I was a rector, plenty of kids came to the Ash Wednesday service. If parents aren't bringing their kids, that's a problem worth addressing on its own, without re-ordering an ancient pattern of worship.

      I sincerely hope this does not become a thing.

      1. You are right that Sundays are feasts of the Resurrection, and this morning I mentioned that to our three congregations, along with the fact that the 40 days of Lent don't include Sundays for that very reason, and that Sundays are "in" Lent but not "of" Lent. You are also correct that Ash Wednesday is a Fast. Ash Sunday, being a Sunday, is not a Fast. For our Ash Sunday Service, we begin with the Lenten Acclamation, Collect for Purity, Great Commandment, Opening Hymn, Collect of the Day, Readings and Sermon. Then I invite the "Dear People of God" to the observance of a holy Lent, and we proceed to the imposition of ashes as a sign of our mortality and penitence, then Psalm 51 and the Litany of Penitence. There are no references to Wednesday in the Ash Wednesday liturgy (apart from the title!), and there are no references to Sundays as a Fast, either. Until about six or so years ago, I could also have said that "plenty of kids came to the Ash Wednesday service." Recently, in spite of all the usual things one would expect a diligent rector to try, Ash Wednesday attendance among adults, and especially among children, has fallen dramatically in our parish, even while we have maintained our average Sunday attendance. In response, I decided to try the experiment of Ash Sunday. I understand your wish that "this does not become a thing." On the other hand, our retired deacon emailed this to me earlier today: " am moved to comment on the service that you provided today at church. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical when I first read your announcement of "Ash Sunday" in the newsletter. I wasn't certain that it would fit and also with the fact that today is Sunday, which you commented on in your opening remarks as not being a part of Lent. But as it unfolded I was really moved by it and saw that it could be used rather well although the question of whether or not it fits on a Sunday is still an open one in my mind. This fact is outweighed by the significance of the service though, at least in my mind. I wouldn't mind seeing it repeated annually and I am something of a traditionalist when it comes to Sunday services." Many adults, and many parents-- and not a few of their children-- expressed their appreciation for Ash Sunday-- and these are a few of my favorite "things!"

          1. You know that cats would take to Lenten discipline as well as they take to any other discipline. My cat refuses to observe Lent.

          2. In addition to the "regular" Ash Wednesday services (7 am, noon, 7 pm) we have a 5:30 pm service targeted for children (and their parents). This year 36 people attended. Highlights included a nine year old girl marking the celebrant's forehead and a five year old boy walking around the chapel proclaiming "I am dust."

          3. This thread began when I read: "Here are a few ideas for Lenten practices that might bring you closer to Jesus," followed by this comment and invitation: "There are lots more resources. Please leave your favorites in the comments." So I left one of my resources, not to impose a view or practice but to share something that has been spiritually uplifting. I did not realize that my response to this invitation would be judged, and so, fittingly for Lent, I hereby repent in dust and ashes. Bydd Lawen, Cadw’r Ffydd!

    2. I'm a traditionalist to the core, but am also pragmatic enough to know that we must find ways to reach out to people in non-traditional ways if we are to proclaim the Word to other than empty buildings. Just as God meets each of us where we are, so must we meet others. Or we can continue to do things as they've always been done for the enjoyment and comfort of fewer and fewer people. JMO

  5. Dear Lent Madness gurus, I am unable to vote from the email shown on my iPad. From my computer I can vote from my email fine. Have you conquered the Apple worm which causes this glitch?

  6. A Year of Days with the Book of Common Prayer, by former Presiding Bishop Edmond Lee Browning. There's a meditation for every day of the year, but it's always on the top of my bedside table reading stack during Lent!

  7. i made a list of the things hanging over my head that I've put off until I feel so burdened down I can't see Christ or God's love. My Lenten discipline is to tackle one task and work on it every day for an hour as a way to praise my Maker.

  8. I'm looking forward to Evening Prayer service and our book study for Lent on Weds. nights - "A Grown-Up Lent: When Giving up Chocolate Isn't Enough"

  9. Liked the comments about Ash Sundays. Great movement.
    Sorry Swithun didn't make it to the next round, but let me tell you he is a powerful saint. I asked him for rain (we live in California) and there are gray billowing clouds in our sky now and a prediction of rain this next week! Defeated is not the word for Swithun. Swithun is truly humble.

  10. "Although the Supreme Executive Committee commends Lent Madness to every man, woman, child, dog, and ferret..." My cat is sorely put out.

    1. My cats, turtles, snake and fish (especially Thomas Merton the fish named during last year's LM) are put out as well. They have asked me to petition the SEC on their behalf, especially since they are pressuring me to vote for St Francis.

  11. I make a weekly commitment to go round the stations of the cross. Very humbling and really brings the whole meaning to the front of my thoughts.

  12. I have neither dog nor ferret, but had to hide your post from my cats, trusting that you will include them in Lent Madness soon. (Sigh)

  13. Trying to do less rather than more--devoting time to just listening for God, also searching out opportunities for community ervice.

  14. I am reading "The Emptiness of Our Hands" during Lent.
    All creatures great and small folks I'm sure the SEC has room for them all!!

  15. First Sunday in Lent was enough without Lenten Madness. Great litany , Psalms sung by a rabbi, Latin music, Hebrew music, and a English liturgy made a Holy day for us.

  16. One way to get through Lent Madness Withdrawal this year is to read all the comments I didn't have time to read during the week. So many offer additional pathways and surprising insights. Also, books by and about saints from all editions of LM are well worth reading. And future LM candidates, such as Desmond Tutu, will enrich Lenten hours as well.

  17. "Here are a few ideas for Lenten practices that might bring you closer to Jesus" prompts me to offer humbly a weekly Lenten study entitled PEOPLE OF THE PASSION. The publisher's description is "It is a simple theological truth: We become more like Jesus when we draw close to him. People of the Passion unpacks this tenet in a powerful examination of some of the main characters of Jesus' final days: Mary, Mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene; Pilate; Nicodemus; Peter; and Judas."

  18. I can see parallels between "Ash Sunday" and condensing down all of the Holy Week story into Palm Sunday morning.

    My 2¢, your exchange rate may vary . . . also God loves all animals not just dogs & ferrets!

  19. As a rule, people don't listen to me - maybe it's because the perceive me as negative - but I really hope you will hear these ideas:
    1) Consider using "What Wondrous Love", a book of "devotions for the home". It has a different set of prayers for each week of Lent, and special prayers for Holy Week and Easter. There are prayers to say with children, and activities to do too, like making pretzels. I used it when my daughter was young and it helped her understand Lent better as a season of reflection.
    2) Use Lent as a time to reflect on your everyday blessings, such as sleeping warm at night and having plenty of running water. Count your blankets. Count your faucets. Count all those your love. For each one of these, put money into your United Thank Offering Box. It is a wonderful way to raise funds, easily can include non- adults, and is very humbling. There are so many in the world missing these basic blessings.
    3) Lastly, our Guinea Pigs are miffed at being left out and say a loud "mweep!" In protest. They are especially interested in Lent Madness since one of them is named Irene, and hopes she'll be victorious next month 🙂

  20. How do I find results from previous days? Once I've voted, that seems to be it until you announce the winners the next day. Of course, I guess I could just keep all those emails...duh...didn't think of that!

    And re my comment on the brothers...I was making it in fun--didn't mean it to sound snarky. Next time I'll add an emoji!

    1. Grace, you can find results in two places: in the sidebar, there are 5 of the most recent posts under "Recent Posts". But they put all of the results on the page "Bracket 2016" in the menu at the top of the page. Click that, then scroll down below the 2016 bracket, and you'll see the results, linked back to their resprective pages.

    1. I've got to agree.... and how about Windows 10 phones, of which I am an owner?? Seems we've left a large audience out in the cold.

      1. In regard to the Android question, I've got to wonder if there isn't another volunteer in the arena that has the necessary expertise to provide for those of us that don't use Apple products. I think you're short-serving a rather considerable potential audience in providing only for one user, despite the use of voluntary labor. There's got to be someone in your talent pool who could fill the gap and not leave all of us out of what sounds like a fun application.

          1. Thanks, Scott. I don't have anyone in mind, partly because I know nothing of the parameters under which they'd have to function. I'll ask around here (Northwest Oregon) and see what I can learn. Maybe I can help with some education.

            Shalom, Pete