The Church of St. Luke in the Fields is an historic parish not in rural Iowa as the name would imply, but in the heart of Greenwich Village. That would be in Manhattan, New York City, not Manhattan, Kansas, just to be clear.
This year they’re engaging in Lent Madness full bore on their parish blog. As every parish should.
But the folks at SLITF (no clue if that’s the acronym they use but we like it) have gotten quite creative in the process. They’re actually inviting parishioners to vote twice in each battle — not in a voter fraud kind of way because then they’d all be banned from Lent Madness and this would quickly turn into a rather awkward post — but once on our website and once on their blog. The idea is to fully participate with all of us but then to see which saints their own parishioners are supporting. We’re not sure what they’ll do with the information once it’s collected but presumably the NSA is watching and keeping tabs on this subversive activity.
As part of their Lenten hype, they asked Tim to write something Lent Madness-y. So, ladies and gentlemen, prepare for a peek behind the Purple Curtain as Tim reveals what goes into the formation of the Lent Madness bracket.
I’d love to tell you that it’s entirely the work of the Holy Spirit and not just my trusty Ouija Board. Actually the process has evolved a bit over time. The first couple of years, back when I hosted it on my blog, I really did just go through Lesser Feasts and Fasts and pick 32 saints with good stories I thought people should know about.
In 2012 when I decided to partner with my online archnemesis, Scott Gunn, the executive director of Forward Movement, we collaborated and tried to be a bit more intentional about the choices. We always seek a diverse group of saints Biblical and modern, ecclesiastical and monastic, famous and obscure and I think we’ve done a pretty good job over the years.
For the last couple of brackets, we’ve solicited nominations from the general Lent Madness public sometime during Eastertide. I wouldn’t call it a “democratic” process since Scott and I still make up the (mostly benign) dictatorship that is the Supreme Executive Committee and have the final say. But each year a number of nominated saints do make it into the bracket.
Being into our sixth year, people also wonder if saints are ever eligible to make a return appearance. You know, if they were prematurely “martyred” in the early rounds. The answer is yes and no. Saints who went deep into the tournament the last few years are ineligible and previous Golden Halo winners are permanently retired from the competition. The whole idea is to give other saints a chance at Lenten glory (not that they need it) while allowing participants to learn about a whole new crop of saints.
So there you go. For the first time, the process of saintly selection has been fully revealed. Now go vote!