For the Golden Halo: Martha of Bethany vs. Pandita Ramabai

Well, friends, we set out upon this Lent Madness journey over five weeks ago on “Ash Thursday.” With your help we have narrowed the field of 32 saints down to just two: Martha of Bethany and Pandita Ramabai (who defeated Zenaida 61% to 39% yesterday). Who will win the coveted Golden Halo of Lent Madness 2019? Only 24 hours and your voting participation will reveal this holy mystery.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, we’ve met some truly remarkable saintly folks along the way. Perhaps you learned about some saints you’d never heard of or maybe you renewed acquaintances with saints who have long offered inspiration. Of course the entire notion of placing saints in a bracket is absurd — each “contestant” has already earned a crown of righteousness in addition to a “golden halo.” But at the heart of Lent Madness is the abiding conviction that encountering those who have come before us in the faith enriches and enlivens our own walk with the risen Christ.

In the process of this whimsical Lenten devotion we’ve all made some new online friends, encountered a community of believers who take their faith but not themselves too seriously, learned a few things, were inspired by saintly witnesses, and had a lot fun along the way.

Of course we literally couldn’t have done this without our stellar Celebrity Bloggers to whom we offer sincere gratitude: Amber Belldene, Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, Anna Fitch Courie, David Creech, Marcus Halley, David Hansen, Carol Howard Meritt, Emily McFarlan Miller, and David Sibley. Thanks to Bracket Czar Adam Thomas for his unsung behind-the-scenes work in keeping the bracket updated daily — in his inimitable style. You all rock! And we’re all grateful for your good writing, good humor, and adhering to most, if not all, of the SEC-imposed deadlines.

We’re also grateful to the Forward Movement staff who have supported this endeavor: Richelle Thompson, Carole Miller, Jason Merritt, Alyssa Finke, and Alexis Fortuna Caoili, as well as everyone who answered the phone in the Lentorium and all the other things to make Lent Madness successful: Tania Z. Jones, Rachel Jones, Hugo Olaiz, Allison Sandlin Liles, Brandon Hill, Miriam McKenney, Jay Sidebotham, Loren Dixon, Samantha Franklin, Chris Yaw, Liz Brignac, Karen Robertson Henry, Christina Dorn, Jane Paraskevopoulos, Barbara Hine, Vicki Everett, Amy Golden, Kathy Jose, Aleia Robinson, Peggy Sanchez, Debbie Springer, and the office mascot, George T. Dog.

2018 Golden Halo Winner Anna Alexander prepares to hand over the 2019 crown.

Finally, thanks to all of you who participated by voting, commenting, drinking coffee out of Lent Madness mugs, filling out brackets, talking about saints at coffee hour, liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter, and allowing us to play a small role in your Lenten journey. We’ve loved having each one of you along for the “madness” and on behalf of the Supreme Executive Committee we wish you a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter.

But enough gratitude. We have a Golden Halo to award! As with all the matchups, the polls will be open for 24 hours and the winner will be announced right here at 8:00 am Eastern Time on Maundy Thursday. At this point, everything about these two worthy saints has been said (though if you need some refreshers, click on the Bracket tab and scroll down).

Today, we have simply asked our remaining celebrity blogger, Amber Belldene (who has faithfully advocated for both Martha of Bethany and Pandita Ramabai) to provide us with one image and one quote.

The rest is up to you, the Lent Madness voting public. So go do your thing! And thanks for playing along this year — we’re delighted you joined us on the journey.

Martha of Bethany

Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” - Martha of Bethany (John 11:27)

Pandita Ramabai

A life totally committed to God has nothing to fear, nothing to lose, nothing to regret. - Pandita Ramabai

Martha of Bethany vs. Pandita Ramabai

  • Martha of Bethany (55%, 4,439 Votes)
  • Pandita Ramabai (45%, 3,561 Votes)

Total Voters: 8,000

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167 comments on “For the Golden Halo: Martha of Bethany vs. Pandita Ramabai”

  1. I've always liked Martha, even though I never gave her the credit she deserves for recognizing Jesus as the messiah. In my world she's not been celebrated as an outstanding evangelist. In fact she's been pretty much relegated to the kitchen. Martha has kept us cooking and scrubbing with a nod, a push or a shove, as needed, with encouragement to meditate or sing praises as we do our chores. Women still feel guilty for going to work as it's necessary to have the minimum food, clothing and shelter. Many widows are still poor. Single female head of households are still poor. Most men, (as the mother of five grown men, I don't say this lightly) most men still hope to find a woman who will cook, clean, do the laundry, have their babies AND bring in a good income. I don't know the current statistics but it seems to me it's mostly males who want to reverse Roe Vs Wade. We all know it's still a man's world. Women have made progress and are gaining recognition for their achievements. At least some of them are. As recently as last month. Pandita Ramabai has been a driving force for women's education and for Jesus. Her work is still on going. The experience of many women has encouraged women to be able to support themselves. It hasn't been that long that women expected more, much more than graduating from high school and getting married. My vote is in thanksgiving for the life and ministry of Pandita Ramabai. I still really like Martha. Shame there isn't a Gospel of Martha, or Mary and Martha, and a lot more books in the bible named for women. Especially ones who lived in Jesus' time and actually knew him. Interesting that men are commenting on women's agenda to vote for women in these "playoffs".

  2. Today I will offer my activities with the St. Vincent de Paul Society in thanksgiving for the Marthas of the world who respond to the needs of all they encounter as if they were responding to Christ, Himself. With profound gratitude to the SEC, the bloggers supreme, and the whole 'Madness community,' I cast my vote for Martha! Blessed Easter to all!

  3. Thank you very much to all who have a hand in making Lent Madness a reality. Thanks, Tim and Scott for your visionary leadership in adding devotional lightness too Lent.

  4. I voted for Pandita because she is a verifiable, living, breathing woman whose existence and accomplishments are undeniably an example of the potential for good in a human being. Biblical persons feel remote to me and seem to be religious traditions and moral concepts that have been anthropomorphized into an individual. Indeed, this practice of using an individual is a time-tested tradition that provides a secure vessel for communication of spiritual concepts through many generations. However, I feel people such as Pandita are more accessible to people living here and now. Also, at this time in my life, I pretty well stuck on the historic omission of women in social and spiritual development. How much further along would humanity be if over 1/2 of the world's population had an equal hand in the progress of humankind.

  5. Thanks to all the folks behind Lent Madness. This is my first rodeo with all of you and it
    has been fulfilling and tons of fun....have begun recruiting friends and family and hope
    they will tune in next year. Pretty sure I hooked friends in Utah and we will see them
    at Lent Madness next year. Blessings to one and all and I am working on a Photini Martini
    for the drink list.

  6. Thanks to all the folks behind Lent Madness. This is my first rodeo with all of you and it
    has been fulfilling and tons of fun....have begun recruiting friends and family and hope
    they will tune in next year. Pretty sure I hooked friends in Utah and we will see them
    at Lent Madness next year. Blessings to one and all and I am working on a Photini Martini
    for the drink list. oops! looks like I clicked twice when I posted..sorry....

  7. Thank you all, the bloggers, SEC, John Cabot, Michael Wachler (who made me investigate the show tunes so I could sing along) and all of you, my friends in the faith! Really looking forward to next year!

  8. In a world where women as still marginalized, I vote Pandita. We need more women like her to help women, families and communities! There’s a Martha in all of us but we all need to be more like Pandita.

  9. I said in my comment for the Martha/Mary matchup, “Here’s to everyone who does unglamorous but necessary day-to-day tasks–Martha for the Golden Halo!” I’m thrilled that she now has a shot at it!

    It’s occurred to me for the first time that the ending of the Mary/Martha story in Luke is deeply unsatisfying because there’s something missing. It ends with Jesus telling Martha, “No, your sister has chosen the better part, so I won’t tell her to get up and help you.” So…why then doesn’t Jesus invite Martha to stop bustling around and sit at his feet too? No wonder so many of us sympathize and identify with her!

    And yet, in John (where the personalities of the two sisters are absolutely consistent with how they appear in Luke) it’s the forthright Martha whose determined faith calls forth once of Jesus’ most profound and comforting statements. “I am the resurrection and the life.”

    Thank you, SEC! Thank you, bloggers, song and limerick writers, and fellow commenters! I learned about wonderful saints I’d never heard of, and was driven to learn much more about some people of whom I had been only vaguely aware. See you next year!

  10. One more quote from Pandita Ramabai:
    “People must not only hear about the kingdom of God, but must see it in actual operation, on a small scale perhaps and in imperfect form, but a real demonstration nevertheless.”

  11. From my childhood 'til this very day, I have been exposed to and served by the Marthas of this world while the Marys sit in the best seats being served along with the guest of honor. Here's hoping Martha gets hers today-the GOLDEN HALO she deserves.

  12. Doesn't Martha remind anyone of Thomas? She believed because she saw! Pandita, like us faithful followers, believed because she heard!

  13. I predicted Martha for the Halo, yet voted for Ramabai. I so appreciate the ministries of the Celebrity Bloggers, everyone who makes Lent Madness happen, the thoughtful reflections behind others' votes, and especially the humor. I will never, ever, give up laughter for Lent!

    Now, looking ahead to next year while these are fresh in my mind ...

    Tim & Forward Movement:
    Find a volunteer church choir (or create one from volunteers in a location of your choice) to record the best of Michael's songs, Sr. Diana's hymns and/or John's limericks. Then make them available for sale via iTunes and/or other sources. Perhaps not a huge money-maker, but since there were usually over 8000 votes per day, if marketed via email, FB, Twitter, etc., this year's participants might bite. If nothing else, the singers will have a blast!

    Tech folks re: website:
    1. Many commenters have requested a "Like" button for years. PLEASE find a way to make this happen! We want to express our appreciation for various posts, but don't need to comment to do so.

    3. I really liked the external links in Comments, which gave us another great way to expand our knowledge - and to find the tunes to Michael's lyrics for those of us who are Broadway-song-challenged. For those who would like to add a link to their post(s) and don't know how, could you include instructions for doing so at the top of each day's Comments section? Or, create a link to a place on the website where we can find such instructions?

    Now to await the awarding of the Golden Halo. If it's really close, perhaps another Silver Halo might be in the offing as well?

    Wishing everyone a blessed Triduum and Easter.

    1. I have just one request: that the website recognize our address so we don’t need to type it in with every comment. The more you can encourage conversation here, IMO, the better!

  14. Bouquets of roses to all! It has been awesome.. I have learned of saints I never heard of and my opinion of Martha is altered forever. Thanks.

  15. I voted for Martha of Bethany. During this Lent, I've very much been called to be more of Martha than Mary and learning more about her has been a blessing indeed. And I leave this verse from Rudyard Kipling's "The Sons of Martha,"
    It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
    It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
    It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
    Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

  16. I voted for you, Martha. I guess you had it coming when you complained to Jesus about your sister, Mary. Personally, He could have been a little nicer to you, in my opinion, but I'm just a mere mortal. I learned the distinction between being an "entertainer" and a "host" - hope to become a better host in the future. Happy Easter, Martha! I'm sure you're doing all the cooking and cleaning. Hopefully Mary will at least do the dang dishes. She can pray while she scrubs and you can rest.

  17. Once again a huge "Thank You" to the entire Lent Madness team!!! This is one of the best ways to spend Lent. It was even harder to vote for our favorite saint as the choices so interesting. So many new saints to discover this year! Thank you again for making this a really special Lent!!

      1. A little late, but this evening I thought I would peruse through some of the things I didn't get to see yesterday! Where the tee-shirts are concerned, what a neat idea- and the picture could be Gobnait holding a few flowers with a smiling little bee perched in among the flowers looking up at her.

  18. I find it so interesting that almost all the male voices seem to have dropped out of these comments. Not sure what that says.

      1. But then we wouldn’t have heard you “speak.” Complete sentences are so nice! I offer up a vote for continuing without a “like” option.

        1. I can just imagine a "comments" section with hundreds of "Like" entries. Please don't do that.

  19. Martha of Bethany is one of my favorite women in the Bible: smart, practical, deeply committed to Jesus and a wonderful minister of hospitality. I often think that Jesus would not have kept coming to that little house in Bethany we’re it not for Martha’s wonderful welcome of food, respite, and shelter. Go, Martha!

  20. How exciting to not only bestow the Golden Halo on the winner of Lent Madness, but to see that it has spread far and wide! The Hymn Society of the Us and Canada has picked it up as "Hymn Tournament 2019" complete with brackets and voting for the "greatest hymn of all time"! Perhaps a reprise of the Official Hymn of Lent Madness is in order? May the best saint win!

  21. My confirmation name is Martha. Blessed is she. May all of you have the holiest of Holy Weeks.