Celebrity Blogger Week (or however long it takes) kicks off today! We’ll introduce you to the fabulous writers who will help make our 32 Lent Madness 2016 saints come alive.
We’ve asked all of our CBs to answer a few questions and provide a photo that somehow reflects or sheds new light upon them in a way that transcends their official headshot. The Supreme Executive Committee will be posting these intros in the order we receive them. Mostly because this will offer subtle motivation to those Celebrity Bloggers who have yet to submit their answers. Don't make us write the answers for you! (as we famously did one year for a particularly deadline averse former Celebrity Blogger).
As the pre-Lent Madness frenzy ratchets up, we hope you’ll enjoy spending some time with the men and women of Lent Madness 2016. We think they’re all pretty amazing and not just because they work for free mugs.
Then make sure to order your copy of the Saintly Scorecard: The Definitive Guide to Lent Madness 2016 and large Bracket Poster in order to fully participate in the Madness.
But before you read about our first CB, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Thanks — it’s good for our self-esteem.
Anna Fitch Courie is an army wife, nurse, layperson, and the author of Christ Walk: A 40 Day Spiritual Fitness Program (Church Publishing 2015). She is excited to be a newbie on the Lent Madness team, and is digging deep for her own brand of spiritual snark. She secretly believes the only reason she is blogging for Lent Madness was her repeated posts about the importance of coffee. Anna finds her calling where health and spirituality intersect. She will be searching for the saint that has walked the most “Christ Walk” miles and determining if they lead healthy lives. Read her blog Christ Walk and follow her on twitter @christwalk1. In her spare time, she fights cancer, consults in public health, and runs the “Christ Walk” program at various churches. In her dream world, she hikes the El Camino and Mount Rainier, sails, travels, cooks, reads, and attends every Clemson football game each season. Home is currently in Virginia, but really, home is wherever the Army (and God) sends her.
1. Since being named a Celebrity Blogger is obviously your greatest lifetime achievement, how will you handle the inevitable post-Lenten letdown?
Celebrity? I am still trying to get a free cup of coffee out of this gig. I was told there was a coffee mug involved....
More seriously, Lent is a hugely busy time for me. Not only am I writing for Lent Madness, but also I am blogging on Christ Walk: A 40 Day Spiritual Fitness Program throughout Lent to support churches and individuals taking on a Lenten journey, I am running Christ Walk at my own church, and striving to get my miles in on my own Christ Walk journey. Mostly by the end of Lent, I want a nap. Then it's Easter! Rise Up! It is Resurrection time! I am energized to get up and keep going. Much like our saints, the journey towards a life with Christ never ends. I love Lent. It is an awesome time and I am thrilled to be blogging for my saints: Roch, Constance and her Companions, and Frances Joseph-Gaudet. Their journeys humble me.
2. What is the single strangest thing you’ve learned about one of your assigned saints?
Saint Roch has his own football (soccer) team in Glasgow called "the Candy Rock." Players wear a badge of the saint with his dog. As a sports enthusiast, this is kind of cool.
Roch also has mob connections. He is seen in The Godfather II as a part of the Saint Rocco procession and was featured in James Gandolfini's (of the Sopranos) last film, The Drop. Roch may be the most famous, unknown saint in popular culture. Do not let the weird connections fool you though, Roch is part James Bond (accused of being a spy), heals the plague, patron saint of dogs, and has 173 churches named for him worldwide.
3. What is your favorite saint-inspired food and why?
Alas, none of my saints have food associated with them, but they come from three food-villes I will claim: Roch is French (hello Bordeaux!) and highly venerated in Italy. Pizza is my all time favorite food. People will argue that pizza does not come from Italy, BUT the best pizza in the world is made in Naples, Italy. That pizza may be my deathbed food. I am drooling a little as I write this memory. Hands down: The. Best. Pizza. In. The. World.
Frances hails from the Deep South (Mississippi and Louisiana): Give me fried chicken, gumbo, biscuits, and grits (in moderation of course). Stick me with a fork and call me happy (in moderation of course).
My third saint, Constance, is from Memphis, Tennessee, where it is all about barbecue. It does not get better than barbecue. However, I will argue sauce with the Memphians: Slather it with vinegar sauce and call it a day. Barbecue is a noun, not a verb.
4. Besides Lent Madness, what do you most look forward to during the season of Lent?
As busy as the Lenten season may be, it never fails to open my eyes to journeys with Christ. These journeys may be my own, my saints, or others. I am really inspired by the concept of journeys. Journeys take us places physically, spiritually, and mentally. Journeys change us. For me, Lent has always been a period of a very vivid journey. It allows me the time to reflect on what has happened to me (hearing loss, cancer, parental illnesses), create meaning from events, share Christ with others, HEAR God's call, discern where I need to go in the future, and grow as an individual. When I look at my saints journeys, they followed similar paths of hearing Christ's call, discerning what it means, overcoming adversity, sharing that love with others, and being changed by their experiences. Sharing in the lives of saints, we learn that we are not alone on our journeys. They give us role models of behavior and action in the light of social injustice, world unrest, fear, pain, illness, disease, and a whole slew of other problems. Yet through their FAITH, they learned to TRUST in God and find PEACE. I think this is an important lesson that we all can learn from the saints and each other. FAITH, TRUST and PEACE. And lest we forget love, faith, trust and peace, first starts from a place of love.
At last, it's started. LMA (Lent Madness Anticipation) is in full bloom.
Yes! And I hope you anticipate voting for my saints!:)
Anna was part of our church, St. Paul's Episcopal, in Leavenworth, KS. She made a huge impact and is sorely missed. We wish you all good things Anna! XOXO
Thanks MW!!! Miss y'all. Don't forget to vote for me!:)
Stick me with a fork and call me happy! My new motto in life!
I hope you have not been overwhelmed by the recent snow here in Virginia. We got over a foot here in Richmond, and my back is still talking to me after shoveling and shoveling yesterday.
My back is still talking to me too. I remind myself that I got a lot of ChristWalk miles from the shoveling!!!!
I am digging out from under 8 inches of snow and it is obviously not the foot of snow in VA or 3 feet elsewhere BUT I'm in assisted living and they just dare me to think about opening the front door and putting one foot outside and breaking something. Thank you SEC for starting with the first celebrity blogger with whom I am pleased. More power to her. Where is Lady Jane P?
Don't let the snow keep you stuck in doors!:). Keep that place on their toes.
Anna, you are a delight! Saint Roch? Patron Saint of dogs? He gets my vote (I know it's a bit early!!)
Thanks Rod! Vote early and vote often. Er. I mean once!:)
Anna, your comments on the concept of journeys have inspired me! I've always wondered why so many of my dreams have me on some sort of quest - always in places I've never been but very vividly rendered. Perhaps God is trying to tell me something! In any case, I look forward to reading your blogs this Lenten season. Welcome to the Madness!
Thanks Wendy! I am so happy to read this. One day maybe we will all understand our journeys.
at last! and i live in new orleans so am very interested in frances Gaudet...
Vote early and vote often. I mean once. And France's was an amazing woman. If you look at the time and culture in which she lived. Being black and a woman. She knew no bounds.
A celebrity blogger AND Clemson football fan! Roch for the Halo!
My father was named for St. Roch. When Dad was recovering from cancer surgery, he would walk around the house to get a little exercise. My Westie, Glenn, would walk beside him, very serious and not playing, and when Dad was resting, Glenn would sit by him like a guard dog. Dad and Glenn are gone now, but I expect that in heaven Glenn is sitting next to Dad as he did in life. St. Roch for the Halo!
Charlotte--this post fills me with joy. The love of dogs. And your dad. And his continued walks with cancer speak to my heart! Hugs!
I like the fact that Anna enjoys and supports physical activity. Hope she likes Father Baraga, he was a very big time trekker for Jesus. Sometimes in 40 below zero. We run 3 times per week and bike the same. Was an army guy in the 60s. Good blogging Anna
Yikes! I am not sure I could keep up!:)
Hi Anna! Long time, no see. I'm so looking forward to reading your offerings for Lent Madness. I'm sure your advocacy will win the Golden Halo for one of your Saints!
Well! Hellooooo!:). I sure hope I usher my saints to the golden halo!
Welcome Anna! Will there be any (St.) Roch candy for the Saintly Kitsch round?
Well...my favorite candy is almond roca...does that count?
Here in Youngstown, in the Diocese of Ohio, we know Roch as Rocco, although sadly the church dedicated to him closed several years ago. But its memory lives on, thanks to the statues (including the dog) inherited by St. John's and St. James Churches, and the secret recipe for pasta and sauce entrusted to St. James.
Thanks ahead of time, Anna, for leading us down this trail or should I say "up"?
Absolutely! Hold my hand and I'll hold yours!:) HA!
You go girl! I am a Clemson fan, too and have a nurse in my family. Look forward to reading your Florence Nightingale summary for Lent Madness. Keep the faith and spread your cheer!
GO TIGERS!!! It's GREAT to be a National Champion!
Looking forward to reading your blog!
Thank you! I am so excited to be back. 🙂
So comforting when a "fitness guru" admits to liking fried mozzarella! I'm looking forward to reading about Florence Nightingale.
Well, we all have our vices, and moderation is key. But God loves us and wants us to be happy, thus fried cheese. 🙂
Anna would go!! Welcome back!! I am looking forward to reading your write-ups!!
Thanks Andrea! You remember Constance!:) She rocked. I am looking forward to it as well.
I still have "Constance would go" on my computer screen! I'm looking forward to this year's journey!
Awww.. You made my day! Thanks!
Lent Madness sounds like a fun, enlightening activity. Please sign me up
Ms. Courie is one of my favorites❤
So glad I read this post - am in the beginning stages of reclaiming physical fitness, and Lent is always a good time to persevere in discipline, so finding your 40 day Christ Walk came at just the right time! Planning to utilize it this Lent with thoughts of possibly sharing it next year at church - if I can get through it, anyone can!
You're definitely my hero of the day. I love Father Damien. I used to live in Hawaii, and for a while, I lived on Molokai, being one of the managers of the Mule Ride down to Kalaupapa. I love that community and Father Damien. Plus, your comments about finding time and space for spiritual practices resonates soundly with me. As an ordained United Methodist minister, I have to ensure that my own spiritual life is nurtured so that I may nuture others. That's one of the reasons I love Lent Madness! Thank you for your post.
P.S. I like you even though I'm an Alabama fan. 🙂
😀 You make me smile. Father Damien was amazing. And so are the Clemson Tigers. 🙂
I can't believe it's time for LENT MADNESS so soon. Time, the 2017 year, my unread magazines, and everything else...all piled up and jumbled. Well, I'll just have to prioritize and fit in LM and the Padres and esteemed bloggers, one and all. We're off and running !
It took you several tries, but I am glad that you gave finally made it to the correct educational institution -THE Ohio State University. O-H, Anna !
🙂 I'm a Tiger through and through. Every time my professors say "Go Buckeyes," I respond with "Go Tigers."
Very nice call and response right there! 🙂
A ham and pineapple pizza with Fr. Damien? Also as an eight o'clocker, I love the meditative silence of the early service. My favorite hymn for heavenly music is "Alleluia Sing to Jesus."
So glad to have an RN as a celebrity blogger! As an RN I get to work with and care for everyday saints every day. If folks think some of the nominated saints may be a bit off or out there they have to check out their local community hospital.
St. Florence ROCKS!!!
Anna - you continue to amaze me and I am honored to call you my cousin