Happy Monday! We trust everyone survived a day without Lent Madness and is ready to get back into the voting fray. We kick off the week with what will sure to be a hotly contested battle between Julian of Norwich and William Wilberforce. 14th century Mystic vs. 18th century Reformer. Who will move on to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen? Well, that's up to the global Lent Madness community.
Over the weekend, in the only Saturday matchup of Lent Madness 2016, Methodius defeated his brother Cyril. Lent Madness bracketologists will note that this was not the first brother vs. brother contest. In the first round of the 2014 Saintly Smackdown, eventual Golden Halo winner Charles Wesley dethroned his brother John. Thus there is indeed precedence for hagiographic fratricide.
As a reminder of how this whole process works, the Supreme Executive Committee, released the Ten Commandments of Lent Madness. We encourage everyone who thought pitting Cyril vs. Methodius was "unfair" to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest these rules of the Lenten road.
Finally, some have asked where they can go to see previous results from Lent Madness 2016. Fortunately, we have an amazing Bracket Czar, Adam Thomas, who updates the bracket every day. If you click the Bracket tab on the website, you'll find an updated bracket along with clickable links to the battles that have already taken place. Scroll down on the same tab and you'll encounter the 2016 Matchup Calendar, where you can find out the precise date your favorite saint will be entering the Lent Dome to do battle.
Julian of Norwich
We know very little about Julian of Norwich. Her name is derived from the place where she devoted herself to a life of solitary prayer, study, and writing—the Church of Saint Julian. Her works date her life to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, during a period of rampant epidemics of the Black Plague.
In 1373, at around the age of thirty, Julian suffered from a severe illness during which she had visions of Jesus Christ. She wrote them down immediately, and the 11,000-word text is believed to be the earliest surviving book written by a woman in the English language.
Around 1393, Julian explored the meaning of the visions in a longer version of Revelations of Divine Love. The book was widely read and is still embraced by both Catholics and Protestants as offering important and profound mystical insight into the nature of God. Julian believed sin was a necessary step to knowing one’s self and accepting God’s love. She taught that we sin because we are naive. To learn we must fail, and to fail we must sin.
She worried over the fate of those who were not raised in the Christian faith and had never heard the gospel. But she came to believe that God does everything in love, and therefore, “that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,” possibly making her an early believer in universal salvation.
Julian described Jesus as a mother who is wise, loving, and merciful. She believed the bond between mother and child was the closest earthly relationship one could have to the love of Jesus. She also used metaphors of conception, nursing, and labor in connection with Jesus’ love, but at other times called him our brother.
Collect for Julian of Norwich
Lord God, in your compassion you granted to the Lady Julian many revelations of your nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek you above all things, for in giving us yourself you give us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
William Wilberforce was born on August 24, 1759. Family bequests left him independently wealthy, which allowed him to pursue a life of his own choosing. An affluent, educated politician and Christian who lived out his beliefs, Wilberforce defined himself through his devotion to dismantling slavery throughout the British Empire.
During a trip to the European continent, his spiritual life began to blossom, thanks to Bible reading and a commitment of service to God. Wilberforce’s embrace of Christianity prompted his interest in governmental and human rights reform.
Elected to the House of Commons in 1780 (a seat he held for forty-five years), Wilberforce was someone who commanded an audience. He was introduced to the horrors of the slave trade in 1787 by a group of anti-slave activists. His epiphany was stunning, and his dedication to abolishing slavery was lifelong. A journal entry indicated, “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners.”
His campaigns eventually led to the passage of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which abolished the slave trade in the British Empire but did not abolish slavery as a practice. Those who were already slaves remained so. Wilberforce was not deterred, and his efforts to completely abolish slavery throughout the empire continued. Poor health forced his resignation from Parliament in 1826, but he persisted in his crusade. Eventually, he was instrumental in the creation and passage of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, which abolished slavery and emancipated all slaves in the British Empire.
Wilberforce died three days before Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act but was assured before his death that it would be ratified. Wilberforce died in London on July 29, 1833, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Collect for William Wilberforce
Let your continual mercy, O Lord, kindle in your Church the never-failing gift of love, that, following the example of your servant William Wilberforce, we may have grace to defend the poor, and maintain the cause of those who have no helper; for the sake of him who gave his life for us, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Julian of Norwich vs. William Wilberforce
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