Francis of Assisi vs. Molly Brant

And then there were four. We started Lent Madness 2015 with 32 saints and now you can count the remaining saints on one hand (and still have a thumb left over). Who will win the coveted Golden Halo? Only a few short days and your voting participation will give us the answer. But it’s come down to this: Francis of Assisi, Molly Brant, Brigid of Kildare, and Egeria.

Today we begin the first of two Faithful Four match-ups as Francis of Assisi takes on Molly Brant. Tomorrow, Egeria will face Brigid of Kildare. Then on Spy Wednesday you, Lent Madness voter, will decide who wins the 2015 Golden Halo. (What exactly is "Spy Wednesday?" Thanks for asking. Click here to read all about it).

In this round we ask our Celebrity Bloggers to briefly answer one question: “Why should Saint XX win the Golden Halo?” Today, Laurie Brock (Francis) and Maria Kane (Molly) continue to shepherd these two saintly souls through the 2015 bracket.

Speaking of which, how about a round of applause for our fabulous team of Celebrity Bloggers who toil away in the trenches of Lent Madness without nearly enough recognition? They are truly the backbone of this operation and are worthy of our gratitude. Please do hound them for autographs when you spot them wearing sunglasses and baseball caps just trying to lead normal lives.

To make it to the Faithful Four, Francis defeated John Wycliffe, Cecilia, and Thecla while Molly beat Swithun, Cuthbert, and Bernard Mizeki. (Click on the names of defeated opponents to relive the previous saintly battles and refresh your memory about these two saints).

Francis of Assisi

St. Francis with the animalsOur church garden is well-used holy space by all of God’s creation. One afternoon in October, members of our church gather with our companion animals and ask God’s blessing on these precious beings of God who share their lives with us.

Over the years, more and more neighbors of many faiths join us, and what began as a small gathering has grown into a lively and sacred time filled with the chorus of barks and meows. Our St. Francis statue, nestled in a corner of the church garden, stands in witness to this holy gathering, reminding us of the man who saw God fully visible in every aspect of holy Creation.

Francis, for his many gifts to the Christian faith, is likely most well-known as the namesake of the Blessing of Animals. I suspect Francis, who spent his life responding to the great generosity of God in all he encountered, would probably offer he was just stating the obvious: that God is present in all that surrounds and sustains us and of course we should offer thanks and prayers.

Francis’ most well-known prayer which he actually wrote, Canticle of Brother Sun, is a song to God who has so deeply entered creation that everything is connected in mystical union. Francis saw everything in creation related to one another and deserving of honor and love. The words remind us that no part of creation is too small or too great, too insignificant or too vast, to stand separate from each other. Brother Sun and Sister Moon are honored. Sister Water, Brother Fire, and Sister Mother Earth are all part of the unity of God. Even Sister Death, “from whom no living man can escape” is praised as part of God’s creative experience.

One of the lesser known aspects of Francis is his devotion to the Holy Spirit. Francis was inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit in St. Francis mystic
prayer, devotion, service, humility, and peace (granted, Francis’ humility would probably cause him to take the Golden Halo, if he wins, and offer it to Brother Sun or Sister Moon to add to their light). For Francis, love is the medium of Holy Spirit, and expressing love is a reflection of the Holy Spirit alive in our lives. He writes in one of his prayers, “inflamed by the Holy Spirit, may we be able to follow in the footprints of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As we begin Holy Week, we pray that we, too, will walk in the way of the cross, in the footprints of Jesus, and find it the way of life. At the end of Holy Week, we will gather again in our church garden to begin the Great Vigil of Easter. Our song of the Exsultet will celebrate Brother Fire that is the New Fire we pray will burn within our souls; we will praise Sister Death who has been transformed by God and Christ; we will sing with Mother Earth that darkness has been vanquished by our Eternal King.

Our St. Francis statue, nestled in the corner of the church garden, will stand witness to this holy gathering. And in the great chorus of the angels and saints, I pray that we will hear Francis himself join us in our songs and prayers exalting God who has entered creation and filled it with new life.  

-- Laurie Brock

 Molly Brant

mbrant-bio-portraitbThe first time I read Molly Brant’s history, I was immediately struck by her ability to navigate between two vastly different cultures and political systems. As one historian said, she was a “bridge between two worlds.” In the midst of our currently fractured political system, Brant’s life illustrates that there is another way — perhaps not a perfect way — but a means nonetheless of how people of differing cultural and political systems can strive to co-exist in times of uncertainty. Molly’s faithfulness to her Christian faith and her Mohawk family shaped her commitment to harmonious relations even amidst a war that sought to attain the allegiances of Native American tribes no matter the cost to tribal culture and way of life.

Naturally, many debates have circled around Molly’s Loyalist leanings. However, one must remember that history is often on the side of the winner. Were we to step into Molly’s shoes, our view and esteem of her might be a bit different.

Indeed, Molly’s life causes us to examine our own interpretations, leanings, and motivations and how they impact others.

Ultimately, Molly’s goal was to preserve the cultural vitality and independence of Native American tribes. While her displacement illumination-molly-brantto Canada could have been a cause for her to remain bitter, she instead chose to channel her energy into establishing southern Ontario’s first church.

Upon her death, both her Mohawk community and her British neighbors collectively mourned her death and recognized her outstanding leadership. As one contemporary of Brant recalled, “She was quiet in demeanour, on occcasion, [sic] and possessed of a calm dignity that bespoke a native pride and consciousness of power. She seldom imposed herself into the picture, but no one was in her presence without being aware of her.”

Such is often the case of men and women whose faith shapes not what they say, but how they seek to live their lives in the midst of an imperfect world.

-- Maria Kane

Vote!

Francis of Assisi vs. Molly Brant

  • Francis of Assisi (71%, 4,273 Votes)
  • Molly Brant (29%, 1,754 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,027

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168 comments on “Francis of Assisi vs. Molly Brant”

  1. Another tough choice! Although I am a "Treehugger" and love Francis--even have a small stone "Zen Francis" meditating on my front porch--I know he already has lots and LOTS of recognition. (Probably also a real halo!) I've been impressed by Molly's story, and I think she needs to come out of the shadows, perhaps even illuminated by the Golden Halo! I've picked about 90% winners so far...would like to see that continue. go, Molly!

  2. Molly. More people need to learn her story. More needs to be learned about her story in an underreported Era of American history.

  3. Woke up and made a St Brigid's cross in preparation for tomorrow's vote 😉
    As for today, I vote for Francis with gratitude for Richard Rohr's Franciscan Alternate Orthodoxy. As he says, Francis' faith is at the outer edge, yet just inside the boundaries of Christian understanding. I so appreciate Rohr's daily teachings on Unitive consciousness, Contemplation and Action. They help to shape me. I see them as contemporary expressions of Francis' sense of union with all creation and walking the outer boundaries of both religion and society. How like Jesus!

    1. I am just beginning to participate in Richard Rohr's wonderful writings. His "Wondrous Encounters" along with Forward Movement and Lent Madness have made this lent most meaningful for me. Thank you to all who have written, participated. and inspired.

  4. Francis embraces the whole -- principle and action, love of Creator and Creation. As for gender, he voluntarily forfeited the privileges of his sex. I vote for Francis as the saint who rejected all hierarchy but one.

  5. Prayers of thanks for Laurie and Maria and all of the bloggers who have entertainingly educated us during this Lent!

    1. Well put. Francis is probably the saint best known throughout the world, to Christians and non-Christians alike. We should retire his number and get on with celebrating those who have no such fame. "Girls" especially! Let's put behind us forever the days of my RC girlhood when the only female saints were virgins, virgin martyrs (the best combination) or widows (preferably childless, so there was at least a chance they never had sex).

  6. As Oliver notes, Francis is the only boy left. And oh, is he an extremely good boy. How far his unguarded embrace is able to reach, across classes, cultures, centuries, species, solar systems, to heart of God and back again. Today's beautiful essay makes the case for Brother Francis. He's not just for sentimental ladies with too many cats. He's the real deal.

  7. The man of the hour is Francis.
    His closeness with creation shows him a warm, compassionate, loving caretaker

  8. Thanks to all the Bloggers for their write-ups and support for "their" Saint. It has been a fun experience for this first timer.

  9. Francis impact and faith and serenity and… and and and…. This strikes me today as a no brainer.
    Truth be told I've been surprised at how far Molly Brant came in the Halo choices. There's a sentimental side to voting for her, but the slave owning and siding with the British in the Revolution struck me as odd qualifications for a saint. Understandable maybe, but not things I'd necessarily put up for emulation… which is one of the qualities I think of in terms of "sainthood."
    Anywise, Francis is simply (simply?!) a clearer choice.
    Blessings to all for Holy Week.

  10. My vote today is for St. Francis. Thanks Laurie Brock for the beautiful imagery of your church garden and the wonders of God's Creatures and all Creation that Francis championed. For me, as well, I am ever mindful of this prayer attributed to this humble and faithful servant of God:
    "Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace; Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, the faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; To be understood, as to understand; To be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen" Francis for the Golden Halo!

  11. Francis, hands down this time. Our beloved Winston, a beautiful Blenheim Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, died this past Thursday. He had lived 10 years and almost 3 months, thanks to advances in medicine and excellent care from veterinarians and their staffs, both of which, like our companion animals, are also blessings from God. All who knew and loved Winston are better people for his being in our lives. Like St. Francis and all the faithful departed, he has returned to God. Thanks be.

  12. Molly Brant's example with its heightened relevance in these days when we are trying to learn and better understand the dynamics at the intersection of race, law and order is best understood in this observation by our celebrity blogger: "...Brant’s life illustrates that there is another way — perhaps not a perfect way — but a means nonetheless of how people of differing cultural and political systems can strive to co-exist in times of uncertainty."

  13. It was a hard decision, but I had to go with Francis because I'm just more drawn to medieval saints.

    1. Maple Anglican was somewhat overdrawn at the time bank this year, as some early posts explained. Missin' the archbishops, for sure, but hopeful they will once again light up the Clairvoyatron in future editions of Lent Madness.

  14. While I respect strength and leadership in a woman, especially in the 1700’s, I need not to exercise authority more, lately, but more patience and love for the rest of humanity. So, Francis it is.

  15. Francis has been in some sense my "patron" saint for 50 years or so. But apart from that obvious partisanship, I hope he wins the Golden Halo this year so he will be out of future contention. Being up against St. Francis is a huge challenge to any other saint, no matter how worthy.

  16. Thank you to all the celebrity bloggers for their inspirational and educational writings.
    Peace and Blessed Easter to all...

  17. Molly Brant is awesome, and I was so happy to learn about her, but she can't compete with Francis. Thanks for the beautiful writeup Laurie!

  18. Loyalty and Native American spirituality are not to be underrated. Time for a new face against all odds. Voting for Molly!

  19. I cast my vote for Molly Brant, and then sadly watch her crushed by that steamroller Francis as he speeds on to snatch his halo.

  20. Kudos to the celebrity bloggers - I was really torn today based on the wonderful comments. Who would have thought that a Unitarian Universalist (raised Episcopalian) could so enjoy this LentMadness?! Thanks everyone. And, go Molly!

  21. Francis? all the way? You gotta be kidding!
    Is this system rigged?

    Molly is a woman for our time. Let's give some credit to the little persons. As someone commented, Assisi got theirs when Jorge changed his name. -- Go Jesuits!

  22. I love animals. I loved the information about St. Francis incoroporating all the elements into the Oneness of God. However, I voted for Molly Brant, mostly because that work of straddling two worlds in an effort to allow each to see the "other" as part of that Oneness feels far too familiar to me to not give her a nod and thank you. I appreciate knowing more about her and the knowledge that we never do this walk alone.