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. I voted for Molly Brant because I think being a loyalist was a good thing. Peace, order and good government are values worth upholding.

  2. It's pretty clear the snack down will be between Francis and Brigid. I am rooting for Brigid and the divine feminine--so I deprived Francis of my vote on this round. Every single one of the Saints in LentMadness is worthy of their halo, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to learn about them every lent.

  3. I think this is a runaway - likely all the way to the Golden Halo.

    Francis' voice is one we need to hear and to heed in today's world as we struggle with plastics and drought and too much snow and rising oceans and unnoticed extinctions. Sorry, Molly, I've been faithful - but the appeal of Francis is too compelling.

  4. This is madness! How can one possibly choose between these two worthy souls? Kudos to the SEC, celebrity bloggers and faithful voters for these tough choices. In the end, my dog convinced me to cast my vote for Francis.

  5. For those who believe that St. Francis should be retired, as it is unfair to match anyone else with him, the best way to do that is to vote for him this year! It's no contest for me from here on in--St. Francis of Assisi is my favorite saint of all time.

  6. Lent Madness is a fun way to reflect what values I hold as embodied in the competing "saints". Between Molly and Francis, the choice is a happy struggle.

  7. I voted for Brant, not out of any particular admiration for her per se, but just to go against the herd, ornery curmudgeon and supporter of underdogs that I am.

  8. I've never had an easier Lent Madness vote than this one.

    Be praised, my Lord, for Giovanni of Assisi!

  9. I have so enjoyed learning about Molly Brant these past few weeks, but St. Francis wins my vote.

    "Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
    especially through my lord Brother Sun,
    who brings the day; and you give light through him.
    And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
    Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness."

    St. Francis of Assisi

  10. Thank you bloggers for your wonderful words bringing Saints to life. I am inspired by Molly but she was still a Tory. St. Francis just has more inspiration for me. I usually do underdogs but not this time because he blesses all dogs.

  11. Someone mentioned Francis was an old friend and I realize he for me, as well. Some of the most critical points in my spiritual development were spent at St. Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt, MI. And now I live in Santa Fe (saint faith) where St. Francis is prominent. And then, there's the wonderful Pope Francis. I appreciate Molly, too, but I had to go with my "old friend".

  12. Much as I admire Francis--for all the reasons all have given--I went with Molly today. Her efforts in bringing Christianity to her own culture with respect, her devotion to that culture in the midst of a war are an example to us who live in multicultural places. I think we can learn a lot about seeing people as people rather than "the other" from her.

  13. My vote goes to Francis -- as it has in all the rounds! Even if he doesn't win he still has my thanks for sharing the love of God's creatures.

  14. Beautifully written, Laurie Brock! Visit Assisi, everyone! I heard birds chirping in the middle of the night there! Francis forever!

  15. As soon as I looked over the names this year I knew that Francis would win because everyone knows of him and his animals. I still think that all candidates should be either "new" or "old" each year. I prefer reading about the "new" since I'm learning so much each year about God's people who have never shown up in my reading during my long life. I'm already looking forward to Next year's line-up.

  16. Hats off to the celebrity authors of the two bios today. Both showed their person in three dimensional aspect, as real as they were once in the flesh. Both have strong ties to the Holy Spirit. Both were definitely human, but struggled to rise above the ordinary and give themselves to devotion as they lived lives for God and in Christ's love. I cannot say I am sorry Francis is winning...I just wish Molly had a stronger following. I pray I may strive to attain a life of devotion, dedicated to causes Jesus himself would support. I think this may be the true purpose of Lent Madness, fun though it is, to inspire us to a closer walk with God.

  17. I happily voted for St. Francis [one of my favorite paintings of him is the Bellini in the Frick]---one of the few times I've voted with the majority. Obviously, that means that I voted for everyone defeated by Molly Brant.
    This is my first Lent Madness, & it's been a wonderfully learning experience. The CBs write well; the SEC are brilliant---it's all so much fun---with spiritual components. Thanks, especially, to Laurie Brock for her insights & beautiful prose & also to All Saints, Mobile, AL, for their newsletter [my first knowledge of LM]....the wonder of the internet 🙂

  18. Thank you Celebrity Bloggers, Bracket Czar, Server Resurrectionists, and SEC for being so crazy fantastic.
    Question for Laurie: where did the stunning second image of "St. Francis mystic" come from?
    Suggestion for LM 2016: would it be possible to add credits/links to blog images in some back corner of the LM page for those of us esp interested in the art or kitsch?

  19. This was a most difficult choice. Both worthy of the halo, but I decided to go with Francis.

  20. I found a statue of St. Francis in a used bookstore and he appeared to be winking at me. He has long been a favorite saint of mine since I also believe that God is not just in everything but IS everything. Even used bookstores are of God! I wanted to post the picture I took of him but my computer won't let me so you're stuck with just my description. Oh, well. Francis has my vote even though Molly is a worthy contender.

  21. It is obvious the SEC and I have differences when counting on our fingers. The thumb is number one . The others rank according to their relationship to the thumb. But, that's alright. I'll bet we agree about the middle finger.

  22. Praying for you, Elaine, as you mourn Winston. I'm sure he will always be in your heart.

    I voted for Francis-- inspired by his radical simplicity and devotion to Christian service to others.

  23. I was all set to vote for Francis until yesterday, when I was asked to describe the four saints left in the Faithful Four. As I described Molly, I realized how very admirable I find her. Once again, through teaching, I learned.

  24. I'm afraid putting St. Francis against Molly Brant is rather like having the Portland Trail Blazers play a local middle school. I admire many things about Molly and I value the opportunity to learn more. And yet...

  25. Francis has been the guide of my spiritual life since I was a teenager in high school.
    That being said, I agree with Jennifer Franz to retire Francis (with honors and a permanent halo) from Lent madness. For such a humble man he overpowers any other
    saint that is named (not his fault)! He followed and lived Christ crucified, as all the baptized are all called to do.