Margery Kempe vs. Brother Lawrence

Welcome to the big, giant, full week of sacred Saintly Sixteen action! Monday through Friday our collection of saintly souls will be scratching and clawing their way into the Elate Eight. Today we kick things off with a matchup between Margery Kempe, who easily defeated Eustace, and Brother Lawrence, who stunned St. Patrick in the opening round.

Just to keep everyone updated, on Friday Joseph visited defeat upon Elizabeth 76% to 24%. He’ll join Herman of Alaska as the first two saints to achieve the Saintly Sixteen.

As you wait expectantly for another episode of Monday Madness, go cast today’s vote!

Margery Kempe

Margery Kempe is only known to us through her writing, The Book of Margery Kempe. From the book, we have a plethora of quotes from her, a woman of the 14thcentury dictated her experiences and devotion to Jesus Christ to a priest.

The opening of her book, in her time, looked like this: Here begynnyth a schort tretys… wherin thei may have gret solas and comfort to hem and undyrstondyn the hy and unspecabyl mercy of ower sovereyn Savyowr Cryst Jhesu, whos name be worschepd and magnyfyed wythowten ende, that now in ower days to us unworthy deyneth to exercysen hys nobeley and hys goodnesse.

Margery’s yearning to share her faith and her deep spiritual experience in writing is an extension of her love to share her faith through words. Margery was most likely illiterate; she paid a priest to write her story. But Margery was, by her own admission, quite chatty. She was a committed evangelist. On one particular pilgrimage, her fellow pilgrims asked her to remain silent during meals.

Margery, of course, could not.

She is compelled to share about Jesus: Afterwards it happened, as this creature sat at a table with her companions, that she repeated a text of the Gospel which she had learned before with other good word, and then her companions said she had broken her undertaking. And she said, “Yes, sirs, indeed I can no longer keep this agreement with you, for I must speak of my Lord Jesus Christ, though all this world had forbidden me.”

They left her there.

Evangelism, it seems, is hard sometimes.

Along with her prolific verbal evangelizing, Margery also has the gift of tears; that is, the response of wailing and crying at the sight of images of Jesus being crucified. While she is praying with the image of the Pietà, we read:  [my] mind was wholly occupied with the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the compassion of our Lady, St. Mary, by which [I] was compelled to cry out very loudly and weep very bitterly, as though she would have died.

In another instance, Margery is so moved during the Good Friday service, she weeps bitterly at the image of Jesus’ crucifixion. Her priest, troubled by her emotional spirituality, comes to silence her. She shares:  Then the lady’s priest came to her, saying, ‘Woman, Jesus is long since dead.’ When her crying ceased, she said to the priest, ‘Sir, his death is as fresh to me as if he had died this same day, and so, I think, it ought to be to you and to all Christian people.’

Margery, quirky as she was, embodied a passionate, committed faith we are fortunate to have with us in her quirky, quotable words.

Laurie Brock

Brother Lawrence
Brother Lawrence is embarrassed. He is a self-effacing, homely, and “so ordinary you could forget about him” kind of individual. Fame and accolades and VOTES are foreign to him as usually, he is the butt of the other monks’ jokes. Brother Lawrence is known for breaking plates, not breaking records. This new-found fame in this odd thing called Lent Madness has left him a little nonplussed.

In fact, the fame is kind of counter to all his beliefs laid out in Practice in the Presence of God. Brother Lawrence sees greatness not in winning a saintly “competition” but in God alone. However, Brother Lawrence is conflicted. On the one hand, his popularity in Lent Madness is both surprising and quite nice (“likes” feel good). On the other hand, it’s very distracting to his prayer life and his belief in the simple things. Brother Lawrence confesses to God that he would very much like for you to vote for him again, but ONLY if you take to heart his teachings and ponder them and apply them in your ordinary life.

Here are Brother Lawrence’s top six lessons on living a God-centered (extra)ordinary life:

1. You need not cry very loud: He is nearer to us than we think.
2. We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.
3. We ought to propose to ourselves to become, in this life, the most perfect worshippers of God we can possibly be, as we hope to be through all eternity.
4. The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him. As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him. We will learn to love Him equally in times of distress or in times of great joy.
5. And it is not necessary to have great things to do. I turn my little omelet in the pan for the love of God.
6. He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him.

Go. Make an omelet. Live an ordinary life with God.

Anna Fitch Courie

Margery Kempe vs. Brother Lawrence

  • Brother Lawrence (81%, 5,776 Votes)
  • Margery Kempe (19%, 1,364 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,140

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Photo credit:  https://lifeondoverbeach.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/brother-lawrence.jpg

124 Comments to "Margery Kempe vs. Brother Lawrence"

  1. March 23, 2020 - 8:01 am | Permalink

    Two authors. One traveled the world and met famous religious people. The other found God in the mundane.

    https://birdsonstix.wordpress.com/2020/03/23/lent-madness-meme-margery-kempe-versus-brother-lawrence/

  2. Melanie's Gravatar Melanie
    March 23, 2020 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    I am falling in love with Brother Lawrence. What a stunning rebuke to Margery Kempe and her gift of tears: “You need not cry very loud: He is nearer to us than we think.”

    • March 23, 2020 - 9:41 am | Permalink

      Amen!

    • Holly Marie's Gravatar Holly Marie
      March 23, 2020 - 9:58 am | Permalink

      I love big tent Christianity – where it’s okay to cry loudly, obnoxiously in ways that make the powerful uncomfortable, and it’s okay to cry quietly because God is near. Their crying meant very different things ,and I’m glad we have both.

    • William E Montgomery's Gravatar William E Montgomery
      March 23, 2020 - 10:01 am | Permalink

      Yes, Yes, and Yes!

    • Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
      March 23, 2020 - 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Loved that also

    • March 23, 2020 - 12:08 pm | Permalink

      I loved the comment, “Well, he has been dead for awhile now” or something to that effect.

    • Amy's Gravatar Amy
      March 23, 2020 - 10:26 pm | Permalink

      Amen.

  3. Denise LeGendre's Gravatar Denise LeGendre
    March 23, 2020 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    “Go. Make an omelet. Live an ordinary life with God.”

    How could I vote for anyone else?

    • Richard Dorn's Gravatar Richard Dorn
      March 23, 2020 - 8:57 am | Permalink

      Ditto!!

    • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
      March 23, 2020 - 8:04 pm | Permalink

      Denise, my thought exactly!

    • Carol G Dagenais's Gravatar Carol G Dagenais
      March 23, 2020 - 11:31 pm | Permalink

      Oh, how I agree!

  4. Alan Justice's Gravatar Alan Justice
    March 23, 2020 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    I voted for Margery, though I find Lawrence easier to deal with. Even so-called “psychotics” fall under God’s love.

  5. Carolyn D. Mack's Gravatar Carolyn D. Mack
    March 23, 2020 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    Brother Lawrence seems the perfect saint for Social Distancing, etc. Every time I wash my hands, use hand sanitizer, work with another student through distance learning, try to comfort a friend who is upset, pray for “gig” workers or write to my representatives not to forget them, etc., etc;, I feel a little like I am living a Brother Lawrence life.

    • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
      March 23, 2020 - 10:03 am | Permalink

      I agree. We are living in a different world right now, confined to a small space with a few others (or one other or no other companion), having to develop new daily routines and cope with the lack of things we used to consider essential. Lawrence’s embrace of God in the mundane and everyday life speaks to me at this time.

    • Nancy Noel's Gravatar Nancy Noel
      March 23, 2020 - 8:15 pm | Permalink

      With the pandemic we’ve been told to wash our hands for 20 seconds. Someone has timed the Lord’s Prayer and it takes 20 seconds “He doesn’t ask much of us, merely the thought of Him from time to time”. Of course as I’m washing my hands much more frequently I’m praying a lot more!

  6. Michael's Gravatar Michael
    March 23, 2020 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    Mmm. Omelette.

  7. Sue Donym's Gravatar Sue Donym
    March 23, 2020 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    Although my vote is for Br. Lawrence, Margery is a reminder that God meets us where we are and works in us “there”.

  8. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 23, 2020 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    Having just eaten my little morning omelet, I am ashamed that I made it not for the love of God but for the taste of the leftover Indian takeout with which I filled it. In a few minutes, when I join in a virtual service of Morning Prayer, “we have not loved you with our whole heart” will have special meaning.

  9. Michael Shea's Gravatar Michael Shea
    March 23, 2020 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    I voted for Margery because she was “nuts” for God and moaned and wailed and shrieked! Sounds like me right now. COVID-19 made me do it!

  10. Mary Miers's Gravatar Mary Miers
    March 23, 2020 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    Brother Lawrence is more my type. Besides, I had already resolved to make an omelette for lunch.

  11. Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
    March 23, 2020 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    I voted for Br. Lawrence. If he’s not the patron saint of professors of Practical Theology, he should be.

  12. Bettie's Gravatar Bettie
    March 23, 2020 - 8:55 am | Permalink

    This was the toughest one so far this Lent. I have always liked both of these saints. But I have to admit my own personal spirituality is more in line with Brother Lawrence’s quiet devotion than Margery’s enthusiastic evangelism.

  13. March 23, 2020 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    My bracket’s too “good”; I will, this year, keep meeting matchups where I voted for both of them. In balance, though, I like balance. Having known both Margery-types and Lawrence-types, I think the Lawrences reach more people because the exasperated walk away from the Margeries before they hear what they have to say. Lawrence, today. With an omelet.

    • March 23, 2020 - 9:14 am | Permalink

      I like your logic, Susan. I hope Margery would be welcome at my church, but after a couple of visits, I’m sure people would be doing severe social distancing from her. Br. Lawrence on the other hand would be welcomed by all, and his wisdom and faithfulness would have a bigger positive impact on us. I love omelets, but I save them for weekends. But I can assemble some granola and fruit with God in mind.

      • March 23, 2020 - 7:08 pm | Permalink

        The people “in church” are already aware of the love and hope in Christ. I do think we need both types out and bringing them to “taste and see”. I have always liked the expression, “we are not keepers of the aquarium, we are to be fishers of people.” I’m loud, but I love Centering prayer.
        Marjery you cry and moan.
        Too bad there was no phone!
        Brother Lawrence was so humble
        In his acts he did not bumble.
        This should be an ALL Win Zone!

  14. Renee D's Gravatar Renee D
    March 23, 2020 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    With apologies to John Cabot. I haven’t seen your limericks for a few days, and I miss them.

    There once was a Brother named Lawrence
    Whose reaction to fame was abhorrence.
    He said don’t be loud.
    Be humble, not proud.
    God’s nearby. He gave his assurance.

    • Robyn's Gravatar Robyn
      March 23, 2020 - 9:58 am | Permalink

      Thank you Renee D…i too am missing John Cabot and am in need of good limerick!

    • Katharine's Gravatar Katharine
      March 23, 2020 - 9:59 am | Permalink

      Renee that is a wonderful limerick! Thank you for thst.

    • John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
      March 23, 2020 - 8:54 pm | Permalink

      My apologies and thanks to you, Renee, Robyn and Antoinette.

      Like most of us, I have been coping with our shared time of trial. My way of coping with it was by taking on a number of tasks which needed doing ASAP so people wouldn’t be hurt in one way or another. I managed to do so, and in so doing, forged a new relationship with God.

      I had completed my limericks for the Round of 32, and so I regretfully said good-bye to them (and to following Lent Madness more than cursorily) for the last few days. I promise I will try to spend more time with you wacky band of pilgrims and your ribald tales going forward.

      May all of you here, your friends, colleagues, family and communities stay calm and diligently practice the difficult dance of social distancing, so that this plague passes over us and we emerge renewed, to move forward together and build a better world.

      In this jarring and frightening week
      As both TP and solace we seek,
      Brother Lawrence, I say,
      Will get my vote today
      Since I know the earth goes to the meek.

      • March 23, 2020 - 11:33 pm | Permalink

        Glad to see you back John Cabot. You help lift my spirits. That is a wonderful gift in these days. I do look forward to your postings.

  15. Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
    March 23, 2020 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    It’s Brother Lawrence today. When health care providers and others on the front lines facing Covid-19 are asked to do so much, we can all our part by doing small things greatly. Stay safe and social distanced.. Call to check up on a friend or relative

  16. Judy Hoover's Gravatar Judy Hoover
    March 23, 2020 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    They are both so interesting but I have known of Margery for a long time. she is an old friend and I was compelled to vote for her. thereafter will make an omelet.

  17. Jane Christmas's Gravatar Jane Christmas
    March 23, 2020 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    Brother Lawrence so embodies the self-isolating life; but my vote went for live-it-loud Margery, who reminds us of the importance of expression, no matter how awkward it may appear to others. Sort of like a 14th-century Lizzo! We are imperfect and messy like Margery, not tidy and inward-thinking like Brother Lawrence. And one day we’ll be back in that imperfect and messy (and terribly suffering) world.

    • Lee W.'s Gravatar Lee W.
      March 23, 2020 - 1:07 pm | Permalink

      Jane, I love that you called Margery a 14th century Lizzo! Absolutely. I voted for her because she would not be silenced by her critics and because of her fearless evangelism.

    • NANCY NOEL's Gravatar NANCY NOEL
      March 23, 2020 - 8:23 pm | Permalink

      Jane, are we related?–“same” last name Noel =Christmas : -)

  18. Charles Stuart's Gravatar Charles Stuart
    March 23, 2020 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    I like Margery’s chatty evangelism, but Lawrence’s simple faith as well as his six lessons earns my vote yet again.

  19. Rev Pam's Gravatar Rev Pam
    March 23, 2020 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    I had to vote for Margery as I am a descendent of hers. I think there is much more to her than the writers here have presented. Do love Bro Lawrence, too
    .

  20. SharonDianneFosterPattison's Gravatar SharonDianneFosterPattison
    March 23, 2020 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    Well, this one hits close to home, some of my very best friends, call me “Chatty Cathy”, I pray in a loving way! But, back in 2010 when I had my first of 3 brain bleeds, I was right side paralyzed, BUT, God never took my speech! So, do
    I have to go on? You are all educated people, you get my point, and who I voted for!
    I, too , tend to get very emotional and wear my feelings on my sleeves☺️But, there is a reason I am still here to tell anyone who cares to listen, GOD IS WITH US ALWAYS!
    A side note. I do have one of the original Chatty Cathy Dolls, and when Infound her after our move from our home of 51 years, just 12 mos ago, I pulled her string— she has lost her voice, so I am more determined than ever now to use mine!.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      March 23, 2020 - 9:37 am | Permalink

      You will have to watch “Toy Story 4” for its depiction of Chatty Cathy (Gabby Gabby). She’s a bit . . . dominant.

    • March 23, 2020 - 12:18 pm | Permalink

      SharonDianne, I can be quite chatty, too, and worry that I annoy people. And I sometimes cry in church, although I am discreet and do not wail or gnash my teeth. So while I feel a kinship with Margery, it isn’t over something I particularly like, so I will vote for Brother Lawrence. I have an elderly dog with congestive heart failure who only eats scrambled eggs now. I get weary of scrambling eggs, though perhaps I can think of Bro. Lawrence when I do and find in the twice-daily chore a new spirit.

    • COGPOW's Gravatar COGPOW
      March 23, 2020 - 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Love this! And I love that Margery was not afraid to express her feelings for Jesus with tears and unashamed crying. I feel similar emotions many times when singing songs about His love and sacrifice for me. I surprised myself by NOT voting for Bro. Lawrence, as previously I thought I would try to get him to the Golden Halo. But I just related to Margery today.

  21. Kathleen B Sheehy's Gravatar Kathleen B Sheehy
    March 23, 2020 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    It was Lawrence’s 6th point that really nailed my vote, although I was leaning towards him all along. He was a comfort way back when, as a very recent Penn State grad, I found myself flipping burgers at Roy Rogers. All to the glory of God.

  22. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 23, 2020 - 9:33 am | Permalink

    Oh, wow, well played, both of you. The bloggers’ write-ups today are extraordinary. “A short treatise”: one can hear the priestly scribe here, or else Margery had aspirations to great learning. She seems an earnest “gossip,” a garrulous, sincere woman. I voted for Brother Lawrence simply for Anna’s write-up, though possibly tossing a yellow warning flag for cheekily subtweeting Margery (“You need not cry very loud: He is nearer to us than we think.”) I’m not sure about the omelette; my grocery store has been stripped bare of beans, rice, canned chicken broth, toilet paper, paper towels, cheese, frozen foods, meat, and now eggs. Brother Lawrence seems to have a bit of the dealer about him: “he confesses to God that he would very much like for you to vote for him again, but ONLY if you take to heart his teachings.” I hope Brother Lawrence is not the spiritual forebear of today’s religious underbelly: “God will ‘take me home’ if you don’t send $8MM now.” Still, Gawker’s 2009 obituary is priceless: “Oral Roberts has finally been killed by God for not raising enough money.” I enjoyed both these tributes today immensely; truly the celebrity bloggers are all at the top of their game this year. For those of us in lockdown states, may we all remain safe and well, employed, and connected with a loving community. Such as this one!

    • Gregory of Ravenna's Gravatar Gregory of Ravenna
      March 23, 2020 - 3:36 pm | Permalink

      I took Brother Lawrence’s ‘cry’ to be ‘calling out’ to God – “you don’t need to call so loudly, he is closer than you think”. I’m sure he would not criticize Margery…

  23. Joan Reyes's Gravatar Joan Reyes
    March 23, 2020 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    I have a tendency to always side for the underdog. The one left in the shadows or on the sidelines. I voted for Lawrence.

  24. Mary O'Donnell's Gravatar Mary O'Donnell
    March 23, 2020 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    He is nearer than you think!

  25. JohnB Blackwood's Gravatar JohnB Blackwood
    March 23, 2020 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    Brother Lawrence’s humbleness and simple, resolute faith wins me over again.

  26. March 23, 2020 - 9:47 am | Permalink

    Not only are the bloggers at the top of their game this year of the virus: So are all of you commenters! I’m treasuring each and every word you’re contributing to this precious global community in Christ.

  27. March 23, 2020 - 9:48 am | Permalink

    Ordinary life is the most crucial need right now – nothing is ordinary.

  28. Linda LeBreux's Gravatar Linda LeBreux
    March 23, 2020 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    In rereading the original post about Brother Lawrence, “Nicholas (Brother Lawrence) first experienced God while staring at a dormant tree in the middle of winter. In that moment, Nicholas realized that God was present and working even in things that appeared to be dead—himself included.” I had to vote for him. One of my favorite books is “The Tree That Survived The Winter”. May we all survive this winter of COVID-19.

    • Anne Madden's Gravatar Anne Madden
      March 23, 2020 - 10:37 am | Permalink

      The very best part of my day is reading all these wonderful comments. And Brother Lawrence has brought ME to tears for sure. Happy ones. Hugs and love to you all.

    • March 23, 2020 - 8:00 pm | Permalink

      Amen, Linda! The Tree That Survived is a good reminder to have Hope even in the midst of pandemic despair. However, I love that Margery wore her heart on her sleeve (as do I!) and emoted authentically and enthusiastically to share her love for the Lord. On the other hand, I respect the quiet, awkward daily devotion of Lawrence, as we are socially isolated I am trying to seek God in small things. It’s a tough one today! But a great distraction from this stressful world we’re all dealing with right now. I’ll keep pondering until moved to vote!

  29. Betsey's Gravatar Betsey
    March 23, 2020 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    I don’t remember now why I picked Br. Lawrence on my bracket to move forward over Margery, but maybe it’s something to do with #2: We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.

    Little things may not be noticed, at first, but they add up to a great number. May everyone find a little thing to do today with love.

    • Ruth Douglas Miller's Gravatar Ruth Douglas Miller
      March 23, 2020 - 10:12 am | Permalink

      Amen to that, Betsey, and thank you! May all of you find eggs for omelets; the chickens aren’t sick and neither are the daffodils and bluebells–and most of us. From physical distances may we continue to love eachother the more dearly. Lawrence’s infinite peace is needed right now.

  30. Pastor Rick's Gravatar Pastor Rick
    March 23, 2020 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    My dear Brother Lawrence, I, too, am conflicted: you, not by your choice to be inserted into this madness; I, by “requirement” to choose you, or not. Dear Margery, I have wept on Good Friday at the passion and death of my Savior and his love. Indeed, it was the 1st time I wept in church and during my college years. I, too, share your joy at witnessing to the gospel (though not quite so exuberantly as you).
    Still, in my conflict I sense the extraordinary ordinariness of praising God in this gift of discovering and,yes. voting on Christ’s everyday people who have left us inspiring witnesses. In this day’s “ordinary” I choose you. Sorry, brother.

  31. Donna's Gravatar Donna
    March 23, 2020 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    Under normal circumstances, I’d vote for Br. Lawrence (anyone over The Weeper) but he beat out Patrick! Now that is tough for me. I’m sure that in the end it will be Lawrence for me but I can’t do it quite yet.

  32. Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
    March 23, 2020 - 10:12 am | Permalink

    Brother Lawrence for his extraordinary ordinaryness!

  33. March 23, 2020 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    The ‘extraordinary ordinary,’ YES! ‘You need not cry very loud,’ YES! Go, brother, go!

  34. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 23, 2020 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    Lawrence for us today, after we had oatmeal for breakfast this morning. I made a stockpot full of cabbage beef soup as we worshipped online. The little ordinary things that help us stay in the routine, in this time of uncertainty and disease. The little ordinary things of keeping in touch with neighbors, family, and friends through technology when person to person isn’t possible.

  35. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    March 23, 2020 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    This morning, my dear, loving husband surprised me with a delicious omelet and a croissant for breakfast! He always cooks breakfast, as he wakes up much earlier than I do, but this morning was even more special than usual. Years and years ago, we were introduced to Brother Lawrence in a course on Christian mysticism taught by our beloved pastor, Evelyn Newman. Fast forward to my less-than-contented years of retirement…how could I forget Brother Lawrence’s teachings, just when I needed them most? Thank you for bringing him back into my conscious life, and especially for this inspiring writeup of him! He gets my vote, today and always. May God bless each one of us with contentment, “practicing the presence of God” in whatever form this life brings us, even in the isolation of a “desert island” in the midst of a pandemic!

  36. Joanne B. Parrott's Gravatar Joanne B. Parrott
    March 23, 2020 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    I don’t like omelettes, one egg fried welldone is enough.
    I voted for Margery today to honor my mother who could (&did) quote certain chapters and verses of the KJV. Also the Old English took me back to my beloved high school English teacher, Mrs. Holloman who could easily read it. I also had a Chatty Cathy doll.

  37. March 23, 2020 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    I want to be a Brother Lawrence. I am much closer to being a Margery–chatty, sometimes loud. I have several friends who are more like Lawrence and I admire them tremendously. Home alone now because of the virus, constantly texting, emailing, wishing I could be with people. A friend texted me about the lovely sunrise. I hadn’t noticed because I was busy on the computer. I voted for Lawrence and will really try to learn his lessons.

  38. March 23, 2020 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    Learning about Brother Lawrence is really helpful in this time of social distancing and having our worlds shrink to our small homes. His finding God in the mundane is really powerful. I find myself making more time for God as I am trapped in my home. So, I have to give it to Brother Lawrence.

  39. Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
    March 23, 2020 - 10:40 am | Permalink

    No-brainer! Someone who made even other devout people want to run screaming from the room vs. someone gentle and modest who found God in the most mundane of tasks. I am so happy to have made the acquaintance of Brother Lawrence. We have lovely saints advancing in the 16 – I foresee agonizing choices ahead!

  40. Vicar Mollie's Gravatar Vicar Mollie
    March 23, 2020 - 10:41 am | Permalink

    Moved to laughter by Margery, to tears by Lawrence. What to do???

    I want to have those top six in print always before me until they imprint themselves on my heart. It’s Brother Lawrence for me today as I live my ordinary but anchoritic life of solitude.

  41. March 23, 2020 - 10:41 am | Permalink

    May I point out that Lawrence did not make the only if y; the blogger did!ou attend to my teachings

    • March 23, 2020 - 10:42 am | Permalink

      Sorry. My computer and I have issues. It only types what I intend if it feels like it.

  42. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 23, 2020 - 10:45 am | Permalink

    What to do, what to do? These play-off match-ups are gruelling. Both Margery and Lawrence were saints of great piety, but when it comes right down to it, I’m afraid that I find Margery too over-the-top for my liking, but I can relate to St. Lawrence, in his everydayness. (Besides, I’m afraid that I’d want to pop Margery with Brother Lawrence’s omelette pan!) Great public displays of emotion, as sincere as they may be, make me very uncomfortable, but I can understand and enter into Lawrence’s ability to be always aware of the presence of God in the mundane, in the daily round and trivial-seeming tasks.

  43. Nancy Doyle's Gravatar Nancy Doyle
    March 23, 2020 - 10:48 am | Permalink

    I voted for Margery. She is a woman who refused to be silenced by the men who had power over her and I admire that.

  44. Jim Whittington's Gravatar Jim Whittington
    March 23, 2020 - 10:50 am | Permalink

    Anna, another brilliant piece!

  45. E's Gravatar E
    March 23, 2020 - 11:03 am | Permalink

    I kinda wanted to vote for Br. Lawrence, but I had to cast my vote for Margery. She reminds me of my late grandmother (who, interestingly enough, comes from a family called Kemp!), a mystic and a rocking-chair preacher.

    • L's Gravatar L
      March 23, 2020 - 12:33 pm | Permalink

      I’ve missed you this year!

  46. Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
    March 23, 2020 - 11:04 am | Permalink

    Even though I played Margery onstage once, today it’s Hello Larry for me.

  47. AnnaGaity's Gravatar AnnaGaity
    March 23, 2020 - 11:21 am | Permalink

    I really relate to Lawrence, quiet, humble. (Please don’t ask my friends to confirm this!) I have to vote for Margery as she is not afraid to be laughed at, scorned, spurned for spreading the good news of Jesus. I am. Trying to do better, though.

  48. Diane Quantic's Gravatar Diane Quantic
    March 23, 2020 - 11:22 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid that I must follow Margery’s way. One thing I am not is silent. I have always talked too much. If I were younger, I would try to follow Brother Lawrence’s advice. My father, after all, was a Lawrence, a quiet, shy man who followed Brother Lawrence’s way without knowing him. But at 78, it’s too late to change my ways, despite the efforts of almost everyone I know to get me to follow the silent Brother.

  49. Missymcm's Gravatar Missymcm
    March 23, 2020 - 11:23 am | Permalink

    I am so very happy that I stumbled across Lent Madness! It has been the perfect Lenten discipline and I have learned so much about these wonderful people. Brother Lawrence, you have my vote!!

  50. Jo Ann Tyson's Gravatar Jo Ann Tyson
    March 23, 2020 - 11:28 am | Permalink

    I will never prep another omelet without thinking of sweet St. Lawerence and his clarity on living a God centered life.

  51. Amy's Gravatar Amy
    March 23, 2020 - 11:30 am | Permalink

    Brother Lawrence’s point #2, as summarized by our celebrity blogger Anna Fitch Courie, has swayed my vote today. It is so similar to a saying of Mother Teresa that made its way into my heart many years ago and became one of my spiritual touchstones: “We can do no great things — only small things with great love.” Peace to all.

    • Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
      March 23, 2020 - 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Yep, Amy. I noticed that, too. I think your comment has clinched my vote for Lawrence. I need to remind myself to be more like him.

  52. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    March 23, 2020 - 11:48 am | Permalink

    Discouraged that the men keep winning.
    Margery found a way to express her love of Jesus, and like most saints, would have been impossible to live with. But women saints tend to the extreme – Julian or Norwich in her cell, for instance. If a woman behaved like Brother Lawrence, no one would have noticed.

    • Amy's Gravatar Amy
      March 23, 2020 - 2:42 pm | Permalink

      ” If a woman behaved like Brother Lawrence, no one would have noticed.” I’m not so sure about that — we did, after all, vote for Martha of Bethany to receive the Golden Halo last year. (My Mom’s comment: Wonder how many of the voters were women?)

  53. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    March 23, 2020 - 11:50 am | Permalink

    Had to go with Brother Lawrence today,brilliant words by the writer today.Love omelettes too!

  54. john's Gravatar john
    March 23, 2020 - 11:52 am | Permalink

    Margery is my choice. She reminded me of my parents whose love of Jesus was shared with so many that they met–at the store, in the street, at the church. etc. When they died, I received letters from folks who were touched by their witness and their love of Jesus. Thanks for this choice, a rainy day has been filled with sunshine for me.

  55. Michelle C's Gravatar Michelle C
    March 23, 2020 - 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Brother Lawrence broke my bracket in the first round as I had Patrick to win that round and the next two. I voted for Margery in round one but had to go with Brother Lawrence today because “Go. Make an omelet. Live an ordinary life with God.”

  56. Kikuo Hilbun's Gravatar Kikuo Hilbun
    March 23, 2020 - 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Brother Lawrence. I made omelet!

  57. Chris's Gravatar Chris
    March 23, 2020 - 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Hm … Dropping plates. This rings true. I am the clumsy dishwasher at my home. My husband can concoct a most extraordinary, fluffy omelet in addition to a multitude of delicious meals. I am so very blessed that way. People marvel. He is a chef. On the contrary, no one has ever glorified my dish washing. Today, as I scrub the egg pan and kitchen sink, I am okay with it. Thank you, Brother Lawrence. There is glory in what I do. My God is never far.

  58. Becky's Gravatar Becky
    March 23, 2020 - 12:28 pm | Permalink

    As I make my daily eggs each morning I will think of Brother Lawrence and the small things that remind us God is with us.

  59. Jack Zamboni's Gravatar Jack Zamboni
    March 23, 2020 - 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Brother Lawrence’s quiet simplicity appeals much more than Marjory’s more florid spirituality, even though I’ve always struggled to practice God’s presence in the ways he urges. But what absolutuely won me over was the invitation to make an omelet, which I will do shortly for my lunch.

  60. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    March 23, 2020 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Brother Lawrence. I just love him!

  61. John Pearson's Gravatar John Pearson
    March 23, 2020 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

    For a poetic take, read “Soliloquy in a Spanish Cloister;” I am not sure Margery
    would approve of these lines by Robert Browning
    “Grrr! There goes my heart’s abhorrence….”

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      March 23, 2020 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

      “If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence,
      God’s blood, would not mine kill you!”
      At odds now 80/20, one might imagine Margery’s bile to rise. However, she seems like a pious if garrulous goodwife. Browning’s Protestant zealotry seems to be invested in some pretty lurid projections here in this poem. Browning appears to have little insight into the monastic life. And since he’s about 300 years after the anxieties of the Spanish Armada, his anti-Spanish sentiment seems anachronistic. I’m guessing some anti-Catholic animosity permeates his poem. Perhaps the Non-conformism in which he was raised means he finds all religious systems repugnant. Ironically, this becomes a factor in Margery’s favor; as socially repellent as her fervor was (someone mentioned braining her with an omelette pan), and I think it possible she may have had some form of Asperger’s making her obtuse to all manner of social skills, she appears to have been genuinely sincere, even if she had NO filters on her forms of expression. One must take her in small doses, but presumably she is in heaven, if allowed out only for small periods of a few minutes each “day” in eternity, wearying even the angels with her exuberant floods of tears, and then kindly put back in a “quiet room” so that the saints and angels can get on with the task of adoration without being exhausted with her relentless, and loud, rectitude.

      • Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
        March 23, 2020 - 3:11 pm | Permalink

        I’m the one who was afraid she might brain Margery with Brother Lawrence’s omelette pan. I loved your post, St. Celia. You always have something wise and witty to say.

      • March 23, 2020 - 4:02 pm | Permalink

        Interesting observation about Margery St. C! I know people like her, and I’ve wondered the same about them. I give her my Southern benediction: Bless her heart.

      • March 23, 2020 - 6:33 pm | Permalink

        I love your picture of Margery in heaven, St. Celia!

  62. March 23, 2020 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Where is John Cabot with his limericks? I need them to push me to a decision.

  63. Lydia's Gravatar Lydia
    March 23, 2020 - 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Brother Lawrence is the saint of little things, little things that are big things, the great paradox that I discover and rediscover daily. I think I will go wash the dishes in the spirit of love.

  64. Sandy's Gravatar Sandy
    March 23, 2020 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Margery all the way. Who are we to say how one should or should not worship? The woman experienced the love of Jesus in every part of her being. That the priest came to silence and not comfort her….isn’t that what we do all too often. Her response won my vote.

  65. March 23, 2020 - 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I hope and pray that I would have the patience to sit and talk to Margery at coffee hour. I’m sure she would have much to teach me. It is too easy to write someone off because they annoy us. I remember sitting next to an apparently disturbed person at a diner many years ago. I remember turning her way and she seemed to be having a very animated but silent conversation with me when I wasn’t looking. She quickly looked away and so did I. Should I have bridged the gap? I could have tried. In spite of her painful oneness with God, I think Margery must have been very lonely at times.

    • Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
      March 23, 2020 - 3:08 pm | Permalink

      I would have a hard time spending any time with Margery at coffee hour. If that makes me unworthy, so be it. I don’t want to be harangued about my personal means of faith expression, and I’m afraid that I’d end up doing what her fellow pilgrims did, and walking away from the loud Mistress Kempe.

    • Julia's Gravatar Julia
      March 24, 2020 - 7:56 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Richard.

  66. TJMannion's Gravatar TJMannion
    March 23, 2020 - 3:03 pm | Permalink

    As much as Margery raised her voice, she competed with those offering their own private prayers. So, Larry gets my vote today.

  67. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 23, 2020 - 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Susan, I’m sorry that you see this as a contest between males and females, and not as choices between equally worthy candidates. The sex of the saint doesn’t matter because, after all, in Christ there is no male or female. Try looking at them as individual servants of God and vote for the one who best exemplifies your understanding of that role.

  68. Amy's Gravatar Amy
    March 23, 2020 - 3:51 pm | Permalink

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPrXELqebaU
    Here is an under-16-minute sermon for pandemic times. A major theme of this priest’s teaching is the distinction between the Kingdom of God and the “false reality” of the “Empire of Death.” Here he explains what he means, and if you listen in you will see immediately how it applies to today.

  69. Margaret S's Gravatar Margaret S
    March 23, 2020 - 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Margery because she makes me uncomfortable with her loud, personal evangelism. I am by nature more drawn to Brother Lawrence and a more contemplative relationship with Jesus, but am focusing on evangelism in EFM this year. Stepping outside of my comfort zone, I appreciate Margery who traveled the world spreading witness of her very personal relationship with Jesus. “Well behaved women don’t make history”

  70. Jude (8 years old)'s Gravatar Jude (8 years old)
    March 23, 2020 - 4:38 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Margery Kempe because she’s cool.

  71. Lucinda's Gravatar Lucinda
    March 23, 2020 - 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your comment, Rene. I almost dropped out of Lent Madness the last couple of years because of the comments about voting due to gender not discernment after careful reading of the write-ups. If LM is truly meant to help us learn about and revere church history and saints, voting based on gender and names seems to me to undermine that. Perhaps I am taking it too seriously….

  72. Lucy's Gravatar Lucy
    March 23, 2020 - 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your comment, Rene. I almost dropped out of Lent Madness the last couple of years because of the comments about voting due to gender not discernment after careful reading of the write-ups. If LM is truly meant to help us learn about and revere church history and saints, voting based on gender and names seems to me to undermine that. Perhaps I am taking it too seriously….

  73. Micah W.'s Gravatar Micah W.
    March 23, 2020 - 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Love the archaic spellings. I also love that God speaks to me in precious silence.

  74. Brian Thom's Gravatar Brian Thom
    March 23, 2020 - 5:57 pm | Permalink

    You had me at ‘omelet’.

  75. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    March 23, 2020 - 7:06 pm | Permalink

    What a contrast–two people I’ve never heard of before who left interesting written testimonies of their deeply held faith. I agree with the above commenter’s astute observations that Margery would’ve been hard (for me) to be around, probably did lack a filter/social skills, and that her faith expression and response to her priest was awesome

    But Brother Lawrence’s practices sound like something I need in my life and can hopefully work towards. So I’m going to buy a devotional based on his book on Amazon today and give it a go– And vote for him.

    Also Rene/Lucy/Lucinda–so agree!

  76. Will's Gravatar Will
    March 23, 2020 - 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Tough choice today! I voted for both of them in the earlier rounds, but this time I had to go with Brother Lawrence.
    By the way, two historical figures that should definitely be in next year’s competition are Oskar Shindler and Sor Juana https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wSOt3z_-YY&list=PLJicmE8fK0EithsL37nZumzo_Ox5r4RCc&index=5

  77. One of the Jennifers's Gravatar One of the Jennifers
    March 23, 2020 - 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Voted for Margery because she’d enjoy the attention more than Brother Lawrence.
    Sadly she’s not doing very well in the polls. Too bad. She deserves better than World’s Worst Travel Companion, as strong as a contender as she might be for that title. Her book tells a fascinating story. It would make a heckuva movie. Hey – if Chaucer could parlay his pilgrimage people into an entertainment for his time, why not Margery for ours? I nominate Jennifer Coolidge for the title character. Read the book. She’d be perfect. (Margery also used her loud voice to call out injustice, and there was more to her than people initially realized.)

  78. Leamarie's Gravatar Leamarie
    March 23, 2020 - 9:16 pm | Permalink

    I love reading all your comments! So many thoughtful, or humorous comments. I can only say I am glad both types are appreciated, and, thankfully, we need the variety they both represent. Seems like more of us relate to the quieter, humbler Lawrence, but also many point out there is a place for both. I, too, vote for the quieter, smaller, humbler acts of Lawrence, but completely recognize God may equally appreciate the louder cries of Margery. They may have reminded him of David’s loud cries.

  79. Judith's Gravatar Judith
    March 23, 2020 - 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Brother Lawrence; I am reminded of another saint, George Herbert: who sweeps a room/as for God’s laws/makes that, and th’action fine”

    • One of the Jennifers's Gravatar One of the Jennifers
      March 24, 2020 - 1:54 pm | Permalink

      Love this.

  80. Shelly's Gravatar Shelly
    March 24, 2020 - 12:20 am | Permalink

    Normally I read the comments before voting, but Brother Lawrence’s writeup was just what I needed today.

  81. March 24, 2020 - 12:21 am | Permalink

    Brother Lawrence, Margery’s emotional loud spirituality with loud crying and wailing was too much like Charismatic for me.

  82. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 24, 2020 - 4:56 am | Permalink

    As we come to terms with the lock down in Britain, at Lawrence is the saint for our times. Do small things with great love is such a joyful message today. As someone who gravitates to the kitchen at social events, my heart is with Lawrence anyway. And his write up was beautifully judged.

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