Elizabeth Fry vs. Joseph

Who will face Harriet Tubman for the coveted 2020 Golden Halo? That’s the question we’ll answer today as Elizabeth Fry faces Joseph, following Harriet’s victory over Hildegard of Bingen 58% to 42%.

To make it to the Faithful Four, Elizabeth Fry defeated Florian, Clare of Assisi, and Margaret of Castello, while Joseph took down Joshua, Elizabeth, and Joanna the Myyrhbearer. (again, click on the defeated saint’s name to read the previous write-ups). We’re grateful to Celebrity Bloggers Amber Belldene (Elizabeth Fry) and Neva Rae Fox (Joseph) for shepherding their respective saints all the way to the Faithful Four.

Then, once the final matchup is settled, the Championship round will take place tomorrow on Spy Wednesday, with the winner announced at 8:00 am on Maundy Thursday.

But we still have a ways to go yet. So read, watch yesterday’s last in-season episode of Monday Madness, and then vote! Though not necessarily in that order.

Elizabeth Fry

Two qualities make a person a saint.

The first is the ability and courage to see as Jesus taught us see–through the sinful illusions of this world that make us complacent, judgmental, and exclusionary. He refused to condemn outcasts, welcomed prostitutes and pilfering tax collectors, and crossed boundaries to touch and heal the diseased and unloved. By setting this example for us, he turned the world upside down and taught us the way to defeat corrupt powers is with nonviolent love. He had an excellent example of this in his own earthly father Joseph (a faithful four finalist), who had the courage to defy cultural norms to marry his unexpectedly pregnant betrothed.

Elizabeth Fry also exemplifies this quality. She was a woman of wealth and privilege who had no need to see beyond her own good fortune.  Yet, as a devout Quaker, she recognized the divine light in every person and believed that no one needs the good news of God’s love more than those the world does not love. Rather than writing off the women of her era who’d been imprisoned as criminals, she analyzed the social structures that contributed to their incarceration—poverty and lack of education–and changed them. In the same way that people were astonished that Jesus ate with criminals, polite Victorian society was astounded that respectable Betsy Fry went into the prisons, but go she did. She spoke out against appalling conditions and helped others to see the injustices that had been invisible to them before.

The second quality of a saint is, having seen through the veil of sin and corruption, working to bring about God’s justice and peace. We know from Elizabeth’s own words how tirelessly she strived for prison reform and other just causes such as abolition. “Oh Lord, may I be directed what to do and what to leave undone.” By educating and advocating for women in Newgate prison, she restored their dignity and brought them comfort, sometimes all the way to the noose. She achieved results that surprised prison wardens: women transformed by love.

Sainthood is not a single act of courage, but a lifetime of sacrificial love that transforms the lives of the oppressed and heals the world. Betsy’s lasting legacy changed the penal system for the better, improving sanitation, safety, and dignity. Although there is still need of major reform, thanks to Fry’s efforts, prisoners in many countries are given educational and employment opportunities. She showed us that a person is not either a bad apple or a good one. Her work continues to inspire countless others, especially through the Elizabeth Fry societies addressing current women’s issues such as human trafficking.

It is April 2020, and the world is in the midst of a pandemic unlike anything we have ever seen. I am sitting in a place of privilege like Betsy Fry once did, still employed and able to work from home. I look to her as my saintly example. May she show me and all of us how to industriously and courageously restore health, employment, and dignity to a suffering world.

Amber Belldene


St. Joseph has been called a saint for all times, but there is no doubt that he is truly a saint for today. The world needs St. Joseph as we find ourselves in a pandemic that places us in a crossroads.

At this crossroads, together with the spirit of St. Joseph, we must choose faith, just as St. Joseph chose throughout his life.  He chose faith, trust, hope, and service to the Almighty.

Many Americans are experiencing at least a twinge of anxiety as the pandemic spreads, as we hear of friends, colleagues, and even those whom we don’t know test positive or succumb to COVID-19. Nonetheless, when I think of St. Joseph, a calmness blankets me. He faced so many obstacles on his life’s journey, but he remained calm and hopeful, devout in his beliefs, and loving in his care.

In this time of need, St. Joseph pray for us.

By tradition, he would have been within his rights to terminate his betrothal to Mary, but he chose not to. He could have ignored the angel who told him to take Mary and her child to Egypt, but he chose not to. He could have stayed in Egypt, despite the angel informing him it was okay to return to his homeland, but he chose not to. In each case, he trusted the messages of the angels, steadfast in his certainty in God, and followed instructions without question.

His life is the epitome of humility, obedience, tradition, silent witness, hope, and faith in the face of insurmountable obstacles. He never complained.

In this time of need, St. Joseph pray for us.

St. Joseph walks with so many – fathers, stepfathers, foster-fathers, and father-figures; carpenters and crafters; parents, stepparents and foster parents; the unemployed; realtors; workers and laborers; travelers; immigrants; home-sellers and home-buyers; numerous cities and nations.

Our current time calls for prayers to St. Joseph – prayers for those in doubt, in harm’s way, in need of protection, in trouble, and for those who desire a peaceful death.

In this time of need, St. Joseph pray for us.

St. Joseph flourished with faith, as we need to be today. He was flexible in his life, as we need to be today. St. Joseph was humble and obedient; he showed integrity and faith; he placed his hope in the hands of the Almighty, as we need to do today.

As we maneuver through this current crossroads, let us model St. Joseph. Let us allow thoughts of St. Joseph to blanket us with calmness, hope, and trust. When we trust in St. Joseph, we reaffirm our beliefs in the Almighty.

In this time of need, St. Joseph pray for us.


Neva Rae Fox

Elizabeth Fry vs. Joseph

  • Joseph (59%, 4,101 Votes)
  • Elizabeth Fry (41%, 2,880 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,981

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George Richmond chromolithograph, 1913 or before (1843) NPG D38442 © National Portrait Gallery, London

117 Comments to "Elizabeth Fry vs. Joseph"

  1. April 7, 2020 - 8:01 am | Permalink

    A prisoner reformer, a carpenter, and a Tiger King…


    I posted this link yesterday in the Lent Madness comments. I received feedback from people that they found it helpful, so I am posting it again today. On Palm Sunday, the impact of virtual Holy Week hit me pretty hard. Writing this gave me great comfort. I hope it provides you the same.


    • Vicar Mollie's Gravatar Vicar Mollie
      April 7, 2020 - 9:36 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Michael, for all your clever humor (how many captions can possibly go with a single picture??), and especially for your Holy Week reflection. Real, moving, and captioned with hope. Easter blessings to you and yours.

    • Lynell's Gravatar Lynell
      April 7, 2020 - 10:57 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Michael for your post yesterday.

    • Mary Lou's Gravatar Mary Lou
      April 7, 2020 - 11:20 am | Permalink

      Thank you for your moving Holy Week thoughts. It’s like you read my mind as I have been moaning about the same things all week. I will say you moved me to tears. Have a blessed Easter!

    • Katrina's Gravatar Katrina
      April 7, 2020 - 11:22 am | Permalink

      Thank you for the beautiful reflection.

    • Mary Heausler's Gravatar Mary Heausler
      April 7, 2020 - 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Michael…thank you. Summarized perfectly. Peace and Happy Easter!

    • SharonDianneFosterPattison's Gravatar SharonDianneFosterPattison
      April 7, 2020 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Wow, we did not see this on Palm Sunday, we had a death of our niece Susan,56, who after courageously undergoing stem cell therapy in Hamilton, Ontario then Transferred to Kitchener, Ontario under isolation to keep, her safe! ! Early Sunday morning a blood clot took her away from us and into the arms of our maker! your message that we just read today, gave us some strength to know that all is In Gods hands and HIS TIME! THANKYOU ‍

      • Helen's Gravatar Helen
        April 7, 2020 - 9:56 pm | Permalink

        My deepest sympathy to you and to all who knew and loved your niece.

    • April 7, 2020 - 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Thanks very much, I was comforted when I didn’t realize that I needed to be. I have shared it wherever possible.
      May the Peace of Christ be with y.

    • Jennifer Franz's Gravatar Jennifer Franz
      April 7, 2020 - 9:45 pm | Permalink

      I really appreciated the post by Michael and was also comforted. I wept through most of our “virtual service” (which sounds like an oxymoron) on Palm Sunday and was not looking forward to more “virtual church” (which sort of sounds sleeping in and reading a little scripture). I have a slightly different perspective now.

    • Pat Blair's Gravatar Pat Blair
      April 7, 2020 - 11:30 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Michael. Love your reflections.

  2. Neva Rae Fox's Gravatar Neva Rae Fox
    April 7, 2020 - 8:04 am | Permalink

    It was a honor to learn so much about St. Joe, truly a saint for today.

    • Anne Madden's Gravatar Anne Madden
      April 7, 2020 - 10:02 am | Permalink

      I love the way you added the litany, Pray for us. It touched me so deeply. Thank you, Neva!

    • April 7, 2020 - 10:45 am | Permalink

      St. Joseph’s life as a loving father gives me comfort. Asking for him to pray for us also touched me deeply.

  3. April 7, 2020 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    In honor of all good men who obey God and try to be great fathers.

  4. Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
    April 7, 2020 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    Voted for Elizabeth because Joseph is already a saint. Anyone who’s willing to be a prison reformer and be a voice for the downcast in our culture has my vote

  5. Emily Knox's Gravatar Emily Knox
    April 7, 2020 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    I voted for Betsy but am saying the prayer to St. Joe.

  6. Judy Hoover's Gravatar Judy Hoover
    April 7, 2020 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    I have great admiration for Joseph but my prison experiences just overwhelm my vote. I had to vote for Elizabeth, the reformer and risk taker.

  7. Jane Christmas's Gravatar Jane Christmas
    April 7, 2020 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    I, too, voted for Elizabeth Fry because of her two pillars of courage: to speak up about an issue that was not only unfashionable but that sought to give dignity to the lowest of the low; and to rise above the social culture of her day and speak boldly as a woman of conviction.

  8. Betsy H's Gravatar Betsy H
    April 7, 2020 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure Joseph will win this round, but I voted for Betsy anyway. I was actually voting for her celebrity blogger, who did such a beautiful job of showing how she lived out Jesus’ challenge to us, and even paid homage to her challenger.
    And, well, I would love to see another social worker named Betsy win either the silver or golden halos!

  9. April 7, 2020 - 8:23 am | Permalink
  10. PE Sterling's Gravatar PE Sterling
    April 7, 2020 - 8:23 am | Permalink

    Let’s Keep Lent Maddness more Biblical and not Political

    • Katrin's Gravatar Katrin
      April 7, 2020 - 11:24 am | Permalink

      The Bible is pretty political.

      • Donna's Gravatar Donna
        April 7, 2020 - 11:46 am | Permalink

        Ya noticed–thanks for mentioning it

    • Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
      April 7, 2020 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

      This round is supposed to include the bloggers’ connecting very personally with their saints. I therefore find the political references completely appropriate here.

  11. TJMannion's Gravatar TJMannion
    April 7, 2020 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    Tough choice! The reformer, or the obedient, silent one? As much as I’m fond of Joseph, today’s vote must go to dear Betsy. There’s more reform still needed.

  12. Cheryl K.'s Gravatar Cheryl K.
    April 7, 2020 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Joseph will probably win, today, and possibly tomorrow – and to me that is sad, and defeats the purpose of Lent Madness. Joseph already has his Golden Halo, and does not need the recognition from us! Elizabeth Fry, on the other hand, brings us a little known history, and fresh good news. She deserves the recognition today.
    I hope the Lent Madness team runs out of the towers of the early church soon, and stops pitting them against the less familiar saints we grow to love and admire in this process.

    • Bernadette Lee's Gravatar Bernadette Lee
      April 7, 2020 - 9:08 am | Permalink

      So the Catholic in me didn’t think Joseph would get this far in these Episcopalian brackets! I always think the “established saints” end up getting left in the dust. Looking at you, St. Patrick. Not sure if that is an established Lent Madness fact or just my impression. I admit it does get a bit weird when a saint already in possession of their wings goes up against a newbie (at least newbie to me). I so appreciate learning about these unknown saints as we journey through Lent. As we bid a fond farewell to Lent Madness 2020 I want to say thank you to the SEC, the Celebrity Bloggers and pay homage to the saints who inspire all of us with their good works and faith as we come out of the madness that was Lent 2020.

      • Grace's Gravatar Grace
        April 7, 2020 - 5:32 pm | Permalink

        I echo this. About four years ago, Joseph lost in round two, so I appreciate seeing his success this year! I still feel the sting of the losses of my beloved Catholic heavy-hitters, Cecilia and Dominic. In my observation, Lent Madness can bias in favor of more modern saints with richer biographical details. I enjoy giving pillars of our faith their due, starting with Martha’s victory last year.

    • Rodney's Gravatar Rodney
      April 7, 2020 - 10:22 am | Permalink

      but truly, the point of Lent Madness is to get to know those who’s names are not on tip of our tongues
      It’s all about the learning and not the Halo !

      • Isabelle M.'s Gravatar Isabelle M.
        April 7, 2020 - 11:20 pm | Permalink

        Amen to that. I love learning about all these amazing saints!! And reading the comments is even more edifying, and often amusing! Thank you all so much. This has been a great educational experience, and escape from daily stress and angst. Blessed be the One who comes in the name of the Lord, heals us and comforts us, inspires so many to carry out His work here on earth.

  13. Ginny's Gravatar Ginny
    April 7, 2020 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Amber, Neva Rae, and all the Celebrity Bloggers who’ve given us such good morning reads throughout this Lenten season.

  14. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    April 7, 2020 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    A difficult decision again. Joseph cared for Mary and Jesus, and shaped Jesus as he grew, and I am deeply thankful. I expect Elizabeth to lose out to Joseph, but my vote goes to her. As far as we know Elizabeth did not have angels guiding her every step, prompting her to do what was right. Elizabeth applied her intellect and her energy to act for the despised and forgotten. She lifted up the lowly and gave them new hope. She challenged the mighty and brought about change. We need people like her today.

    • AnnaGaity's Gravatar AnnaGaity
      April 7, 2020 - 11:13 am | Permalink

      Who’s to say Elizabeth wasn’t following the voices of angels?

      • William E Montgomery's Gravatar William E Montgomery
        April 7, 2020 - 11:45 am | Permalink

        We don’t know how many Angels were in her life, but I suspect there were many as there is with you and I. I, personally feel that when ever I get serious about turning my life or situation over to God, he sends the Host of Angels to help and guide me.

        • Donna's Gravatar Donna
          April 7, 2020 - 11:54 am | Permalink


    • Donna's Gravatar Donna
      April 7, 2020 - 11:28 am | Permalink

      I think that Elizabeth had a squadron of angels all around her quidding he footsteps and keeping her on the path.

    • SharonDianneFosterPattison's Gravatar SharonDianneFosterPattison
      April 7, 2020 - 1:45 pm | Permalink

      Yes for sure!

  15. April 7, 2020 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    I was torn today. It was an especially difficult choice (where have I heard that before?). I think Joseph is an incredible role model for those of us who try to live a good life, but doubt that we can. Joseph shows us that we all have doubts, but with God’s help we can do more than we thought. Elizabeth is someone who saw injustice and knew she had to do something about it. She reminds me of the people I work to support in mission. She changed the world, filled with God’s spirit. She tells us that with faith in God we can do more than we think we can. I cast my vote for Elizabeth. We’re so close to the end of Lent Madness that I am a little sad, but also very thankful to the SEC, the bloggers, all the people working behind the scenes, and my companions on this journey, who helped me see more and challenged me to see from the other side. Happy Lent!

    • Judy Beaverton OR's Gravatar Judy Beaverton OR
      April 7, 2020 - 2:23 pm | Permalink

      I feel the same way. It was the most difficult vote I’ve had. I really wanted them both to win. So thank you for all of the insights you have given over the many weeks.

  16. Trudy's Gravatar Trudy
    April 7, 2020 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    I am voting for Joseph. When we were selling our house three years ago, someone at church told us that we should plant a little statue of St. Joseph in our front yard to help sell. I had never heard of it before, but trusting in my friend, I planted him in our garden. We sold our house to a couple who saw the listing 10 minutes after it went up. Thank you, St. Joseph. We dug him up and kept him for our son for when he wants to sell his house.

  17. Deborah Northern's Gravatar Deborah Northern
    April 7, 2020 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    The bloggers again did a great job. I was torn because Josepth and Elizabeth gave so much and had so much faith. But I went with Elizabeth because I have been involved in prison ministry for years and am holding the men and women who are incarcerated in my prayers as the virus will greatly impact them.

  18. April 7, 2020 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    If we can join together and hold up Elizabeth Fry as our model, maybe we’ll stop prisons for profit and release those incarcerated through false convictions and restore voting rights to ex-felons. Then we’d be continuing her work and not just acknowledging a job well done.

    • Betty's Gravatar Betty
      April 7, 2020 - 9:49 am | Permalink

      Yes, we all need to see what we can do to carry on Elizabeth’s work of prison reform I our country today. She got my vote every time.

      • Miss Jan, Portland, OR's Gravatar Miss Jan, Portland, OR
        April 8, 2020 - 2:49 am | Permalink


  19. April 7, 2020 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    During this past Lenten Season, I have been meditating on the Gospel stories, in particular those related to Mary and her location in the narratives. Where was she and what was she saying? And if these exchanges were considered to be an interview, who is she talking about? There is a good deal of content about Joseph and his character as a man. I like to think that Mary is giving this information to the Gospel writers. What we read in Scripture is about their journey together. She trusted him. She loved him. She honored him in her recounting of the days that they spent together. It is her voice that we hear in the Gospel writings. Nazareth, Bethlehem, Egypt, Jerusalem. Mary is in all these locations with Joseph. Walking together on dusty roads in the heat of the day, and the cool of the night. Companions of help, supporting each other in the daunting task of protecting the Savior.

  20. April 7, 2020 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    A clear choice this time. Who among us does not love our earthly father, whether still alive or deceased?

    • andrea's Gravatar andrea
      April 7, 2020 - 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Thank you.

    • April 7, 2020 - 11:27 pm | Permalink

      Let’s please remember that people who were abused by their fathers or stepfathers are almost certainly “among us” here.

  21. Ann Smith's Gravatar Ann Smith
    April 7, 2020 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    Elizabeth Fry, the one who is able to look past what someone has done and see the Christ looking back definitely has my vote.

  22. William E Montgomery's Gravatar William E Montgomery
    April 7, 2020 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    Such a worthy opponent, as will be Harriet Tubman, but as I have posted previously, my Patron, Saint Joseph has carried me through some of the most personally difficult times in my life and I know he is still there, not pushing but lifting me up and so voting for him to gain the “Golden Hale” is the very least I can do.

    • Denise Montgomery Bell's Gravatar Denise Montgomery Bell
      April 7, 2020 - 10:35 am | Permalink

      I agree and support your choice, not only because St,. Joseph is so very worthy of this honor, but because he is the patron saint of my church family here in Lakewood, Co. Go Joseph!!

  23. Pamela's Gravatar Pamela
    April 7, 2020 - 9:40 am | Permalink

    I voted for Joseph….as I wrangled with it I thought of what EITHER of them might say – I doubt there are wounded feelings in their hearts so I won’t let this conundrum disturb my peace. I voted for Joseph for the simple reason that many Christians ignore him…

  24. Vicar Mollie's Gravatar Vicar Mollie
    April 7, 2020 - 9:40 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Michael, for all your clever humor (how many captions can possibly go with a single picture??), and especially for your Holy Week reflection. Real, moving, and captioned with hope. Easter blessings to you and yours.

  25. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    April 7, 2020 - 9:44 am | Permalink

    Where do bad folks go when they die?
    They don’t go to heaven where the angels fly,
    go to a lake of fire and FRY. Go Betsy Fry!

    It’s Elizabeth Fry for me all the way, a woman who spent her life serving others. She did not condemn people to lakes of fire. She worked to advance literacy and to ameliorate the conditions of the poor. There weren’t any rich people in prisons then or now.

    Joseph is the man who got to have sex with the Virgin Mary. He has frisky bliss for all eternity. He doesn’t need a shiny object, whose function in amorous dallying is entirely uncertain. Given the large number of brothers and sisters that Jesus had, Joseph may well have been the father of eleven, just like Betsy; in heaven they can discuss Dr. Spock knowledgeably and weigh out the relative merits of cloth versus disposable nappies.

    Speaking of dallying, people, we are within sight of the spires of Canterbury. Tomorrow we enter through the gates of Canterbury. Where are the bawdy jokes this year? Chaucer would consider us weak piss if we couldn’t come up with a few blue jokes to humanize our entry into the holy city.

    Canterbury may be an earthly city and not nirvana, but here’s Nirvana to remind you to vote for Betsy FRY and not burn in that lake of fire (which she would enter to comfort you, and whose torments she would labor to relieve).

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      April 7, 2020 - 11:10 am | Permalink

      Wow, St. C, you’re really stepping out today! Nirvana—!

      • April 7, 2020 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

        Very impressed with the Fry inspired Nirvana! I did vote for Betsy – since I had never heard her story before & was impressed by it. Actually expect to see Harriet beat Joe in the final. Harriet is just so much more appropriately Episcopal! This is my 1st LM season … and I have fully enjoyed it. It has been one bright spot in a very sad spring. Thank you to all the celebrity bloggers, Tim, Scott, and everyone for doing a wonderful job. Happy end of lent.

  26. Libby Goldstein's Gravatar Libby Goldstein
    April 7, 2020 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    I enjoy lent Madness because I enjoy reading about the saints. but I hate choosing one over the other. I suddenly realized yesterday that this is designed by men because it forces competition– a male thing. I think in the future I will read the bios but refrain from “voting,” as a protest. This is all about basket ball not saints!

    • Bonnee's Gravatar Bonnee
      April 7, 2020 - 10:30 am | Permalink

      Very insightful comment.
      In fairness, the concept was an educational tool that was built as a parody of March Madness. It’s not something invented from scratch.

    • Tracy's Gravatar Tracy
      April 7, 2020 - 10:55 am | Permalink

      In the future, I will vote but try to read no comments. Many are tangential, judgmental, and political opinions. We all have the right to express each of these. I read them elsewhere. I wish there were a way to separate them from the ones that enrich my life and spirituality.

      • Sr. Heather's Gravatar Sr. Heather
        April 7, 2020 - 11:51 am | Permalink

        Tracy, I find the comments one of the richest parts of the process. Yes, some are tangential and judgemental but many more are deeply thoughtful and insightful, and the political is an integral part of daily life to me. I am always surprised and enriched by reading them.

        • andrea's Gravatar andrea
          April 7, 2020 - 2:31 pm | Permalink

          Me too. I’ve learned so much by reading the comments. Voted for Joseph today because of the lovely prayer.

      • Janene's Gravatar Janene
        April 7, 2020 - 5:06 pm | Permalink

        AMEN! Tracy

      • Shelly's Gravatar Shelly
        April 8, 2020 - 1:32 am | Permalink

        I love the comments, both the thoughtful, insightful ones and the lighthearted ones. I also enjoy voting, and I really enjoy the Kitsch round. I know there are those who really dislike all these aspects, and I think one of the best things about Lent Madness is that it’s possible to participate in whatever you choose to, and ignore the parts of it you don’t like.

  27. Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
    April 7, 2020 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    I think that Elizabeth Fry truly had a squadron of angels with her, guiding her every step of way.

  28. Jerry McMillan Jr's Gravatar Jerry McMillan Jr
    April 7, 2020 - 10:01 am | Permalink

    I had to go with Joseph on this one, anyone who can step up and be a foster parent
    gets my vote.

  29. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    April 7, 2020 - 10:12 am | Permalink

    I look forward every year to Lent Madness. I do not, however, look forward to the final countdown. Today’s match-up is especially difficult. I could vote for either St. Joseph or Elizabeth Fry and know that I had done the right thing with either choice. It comes down, then, to deciding between what it was that got both these splendid people into this round: Joseph, surrogate father to Our Lord; Elizabeth, gentle and loving presence to society’s marginalized. In the end, I voted for Elizabeth, because while I will never have a chance to be, like Joseph, a surrogate parent to God, I can be a good disciple like Elizabeth and radiate, by my actions, the love of God in a dark world.

  30. Jerry McMillan Jr's Gravatar Jerry McMillan Jr
    April 7, 2020 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    I had to vote for Joseph with him being the ultimate foster father.
    He was given a situation and he stepped up like a man should. No complaints from
    Joseph, he just did what needed to be done.

  31. Kristin Olson-Kennedy's Gravatar Kristin Olson-Kennedy
    April 7, 2020 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    I am a Quaker voting for the home team- Elizabeth Fry for the win!

  32. April 7, 2020 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    I especially like the first piece of artwork of Joseph holding the toddler, Jesus, with both of them wearing halos. I have tried to print it, but it does not work. Do you, by chance, know the artist? Martha

    • Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
      April 7, 2020 - 12:22 pm | Permalink

      I was also very impressed by this picture. There is a website link right beneath the write-up; maybe you can find out more there.

  33. Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
    April 7, 2020 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    The celebrity bloggers did a wonderful job today and throughout this season. Thanks for shining a spotlight on these saints. The value of Lent Madness for me is not which saints are Biblical or verifiable real people or shrouded in legends, or even about who wins the voting. The value is how do their stories and/or lives inspire or help me/us hear God today. The great cloud of witnesses is available to teach us and guide us in our lives and ministry today. As I learn about or study what they did or are remembered for in their earthly lives, and read about how they have inspired you through your comments, I am inspired for my own faith journey. That’s what I love about Lent Madness.

    • Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
      April 7, 2020 - 12:22 pm | Permalink


    • SharonDianneFosterPattison's Gravatar SharonDianneFosterPattison
      April 7, 2020 - 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Well said!

  34. April 7, 2020 - 10:28 am | Permalink

    Even though I am Elizabeth and the descendant of Quakers… Joseph for me. And will likely be flipping a coin tomorrow… Harriet vs. Joseph

  35. Erp's Gravatar Erp
    April 7, 2020 - 10:35 am | Permalink

    Have to vote for Elizabeth Fry. She also inspired others such as Florence Nightingale and Margery Fry. Fry had established a group of nurses in 1840, the Institution of Nursing Sisters. One can read a paper about it at “Twixt Candle and Lamp: The Contribution of Elizabeth Fry and the Institution of Nursing Sisters to Nursing Reform” R G Huntsman, Mary Bruin and Deborah Holttum, Medical History, 2002, 46: 351-380

  36. Chris's Gravatar Chris
    April 7, 2020 - 10:40 am | Permalink

    What a great experience Lent Madness has been for me! I have learned so much about truly extraordinary human beings who clearly heard the voice of God. Last night, as I prepared for bed, I told God that I was grateful for the multitude of souls who have helped to steer me through Lent this year. It has been quite a journey! Many of the souls of whom I speak are those human beings we admire here and those who have commented here. Hope resides in us, if we let it.

  37. JJ of Cape Cod's Gravatar JJ of Cape Cod
    April 7, 2020 - 10:40 am | Permalink

    My vote went to Elizabeth. She speaks to the work that needs to be done today. The challenging work of loving your neighbor as yourself. The work of recognizing yourself as a beloved neighbor in God’s eye whether imprisoned, successful, lonely, healthy, addicted, faithful or not. We’re here to love one another and Elizabeth gives us an amazing example of love in action.

  38. Vera-Lee's Gravatar Vera-Lee
    April 7, 2020 - 10:48 am | Permalink

    My first year with Lent Madness!
    How much I learned and how much I smiled!
    To Tim and Scott, to all the bloggers, many thanks for your knowledge and wit,
    Helping us see the Holy Spirit alive and well especially in these troubled times

  39. Gillian in Victoria, BC's Gravatar Gillian in Victoria, BC
    April 7, 2020 - 11:07 am | Permalink

    Two saintly people but Joseph’s many yeses to God have such profound impact. Don’t forget that Joseph walks with refugees, too, & those whose 12 year olds have disappeared. God surely chose an exceptional man to be Jesus’ human father/foster father/father figure. And Joseph certainly would have been further shaped by Jesus’s daily presence in his life. I wonder what he thought when his son said “Surely you knew I must be in my father’s house.” Elizabeth Fry was an extraordinary woman but I must vote for Joseph!

  40. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    April 7, 2020 - 11:20 am | Permalink

    Go Joe!

  41. Mary Lou's Gravatar Mary Lou
    April 7, 2020 - 11:23 am | Permalink

    I will admit that this was a difficult choice; both are worthy of moving on. However that being said, I always believed that Joseph got the short shrift in The Bible. After doing all that he was asked to do, and not once turning his back on God, he did it all. Then he just disappears from the good book. No explanations! Nothing. Therefore, I truly had to stay with Joseph, a saint for all the people.

  42. Lynn Beth's Gravatar Lynn Beth
    April 7, 2020 - 11:27 am | Permalink

    Every year I look forward to Lent Madness and the joy, knowledge, and the deepened Lenten devotion it brings- but this year more than ever – it has lifted my heart. Thanks to the amazing SEC, the bloggers, the saints, and all those who leave witty and wise comments! Happy Lent and peaceful Easter in this challenging time!

    • Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
      April 7, 2020 - 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Amen, and Amen! In ordinary times, we say in our Sunday services, “I believe in the communion of saints.” I feel this more strongly than ever this year. Thanks be to God for these women and men to whose prayers, as we learn about them and reflect on why they touch our hearts and lives, we join our own.

  43. April 7, 2020 - 11:32 am | Permalink

    If Jesus was indeed fully God and fully man as the Bible says, then the role Joseph played in his life was huge. God chose Joseph ( and I am sure He had many choices that would have fulfilled prophecy just as well ) to teach Jesus how to be a man. Think about what your father/father figure taught you. Jesus grew into the caring, loving savior we know not just because he is the Son of God, but also because he was raised by a loving family on Earth.

  44. Joanne B. Parrott's Gravatar Joanne B. Parrott
    April 7, 2020 - 11:42 am | Permalink

    Only 1 Liz made it so she gets my vote for a female finale tomorrow.
    It’s been fun to learn about the more recent modern day saints & the odd traditional saints I didn’t know much about.

  45. April 7, 2020 - 11:43 am | Permalink

    Luis de Vittoria O Vos Ómnes https://youtu.be/Les2ct1bMSM New Release – Today!

    • Denise LeGendre's Gravatar Denise LeGendre
      April 7, 2020 - 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Thank you!!

  46. john's Gravatar john
    April 7, 2020 - 11:44 am | Permalink

    Joseph is too vague for me. Elizabeth was hands on, touching so many lives and defying the world’s stereotype of women.

  47. Donna's Gravatar Donna
    April 7, 2020 - 11:49 am | Permalink

    They all enrich my thoughts and life–even when I don’t agree. The comments are an integral part of Lent Madness, for me.

  48. Margaret D.'s Gravatar Margaret D.
    April 7, 2020 - 12:09 pm | Permalink

    My policy, when, as today, I truly can’t choose between two saints, is to look at the results and vote for the underdog. Thank you to the SEC and the celebrity bloggers for shining some light into this dark time.

  49. Janice's Gravatar Janice
    April 7, 2020 - 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I was committed to Elizabeth Fry, a giant in the wonderful Quaker tradition of compassion, justice and social reform. However when I read the passage for Joseph, I teared up. Had to vote with the heart and tears.

  50. Patricia Gordon's Gravatar Patricia Gordon
    April 7, 2020 - 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Elizabeth was my choice in previous matchups but I didn’t vote for her today for 2 reasons. One is a beloved uncle named Joseph who was a model of love and caring, dedication and commitment and charming and funny – I miss him every day. The other reason has to do with the current crisis engulfing the world. I am overwhelmed with grief when I read about people dying without the comfort of loved ones. St. Joseph is the saint to appeal to for a peaceful death. I hope for that comfort and peace for those who are dying now.

  51. Linda S's Gravatar Linda S
    April 7, 2020 - 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Today’s choices are Joseph and Elizabeth Frye, hmm… My vote goes to Dr. Fauci! Can I do that?

    • Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
      April 7, 2020 - 3:06 pm | Permalink

      At first I thought, maybe next year, but isn’t the first requirement for sainthood that the person dead? I wish Dr. Fauci a long and happy life. Maybe several decades hence he’ll qualify for the LM Bracket.

  52. Leslie's Gravatar Leslie
    April 7, 2020 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Elizabeth Fry because what greater good can a person do than to redeem and “resurrect” the lost, unloved and downtrodden as Christ did.

  53. Charles Stuart's Gravatar Charles Stuart
    April 7, 2020 - 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Kudos to the celebrity bloggers for making an already difficult choice more difficult still. Ditto to those who posted and contributed so much to the conversation. I could vote either way – indeed, I believe I may have voted for both candidates over the past weeks – but it’s Holy Week, so I feel that I have to go with Joseph.

  54. James N Lodwick's Gravatar James N Lodwick
    April 7, 2020 - 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Two wonderful saints today whose lives and examples speak to us from the distant and more recent past and whose obedience to God both gently rebuke and encourage us in our journey. Both bloggers outdid themselves today with outstanding presentations of their chosen saint, but I was particularly moved by Neva Rae Fox’s essay on St. Joseph and so voted for him. Sancti Joseph et Elizabeth, orate pro nobis!

  55. Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
    April 7, 2020 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

    By the time we get to the Faithful Four, the choices are almost impossible. Fortunately, as the SEC often tells us, all these amazing people already have their heavenly golden halos. Having voted for Joseph all along, I could “go for the gold”—but even though she’s a saint from the 19th century rather than the 21st, Elizabeth reminds me that there is still work to do and that, in the words of a contemporary hymn, “God is still speaking…” and we, like the saints before us, need to listen.

  56. Joan Jennings Scalfani's Gravatar Joan Jennings Scalfani
    April 7, 2020 - 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Michael for sharing your “Holy Week in the Time of COVID-19.” It reminds me of one of my favorite people, The Rt. Rev. David Bowman who always said, “No matter what, we are always Easter people.”

  57. Barbara Brooks's Gravatar Barbara Brooks
    April 7, 2020 - 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I’m voting for Elizabeth Fry, but I vote a heartfelt “yes” to both the beautifully-written blogs.

    • Shelly's Gravatar Shelly
      April 8, 2020 - 1:40 am | Permalink

      I agree! I think the presentations by the celebrity bloggers this year are the best yet! Maybe it’s just that I’ve needed Lent Madness more than ever this year.

  58. Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
    April 7, 2020 - 3:00 pm | Permalink

    All honor to Joseph. He must have been an awesome husband, father, role model – you name it. Also, I’m tired of seeing him left out of works of music and literature. Nevertheless, I voted instead for Elizabeth Fry for three reasons. First, Joseph is already a saint, and I think she deserves recognition for her work with women in prisons. Second, there is no reason to suspect that Joseph did not live. I agree with Mary Reed Newland in The Saint Book that he “left his mark on the Son of God,” but the infancy narratives make significant theological points about him without being concerned about strictly historical facts or extrabiblical sources. Third, the practical theology issue, that is, her willingness to live out her faith caring for not only those who were unfortunate, but those who, whether through by their own fault or because of their circumstances, were on the other side of the law. “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” we’re asked when we renew our Baptismal vows. And we answer, “We will.”

  59. Judith S Mack's Gravatar Judith S Mack
    April 7, 2020 - 3:33 pm | Permalink

    This was a difficult choice. Who could deny the saintliness of Elizabeth Fry who set a movement toward prison reform which continues today. We now have businesses who only hire former prisoners with great success.
    However, as a child advocate, I had to vote for St. Joseph for his saintly model for fatherhood. He is the model for birth fathers, and perhaps more importantly for foster, adoptive fathers and male youth leaders. With the large number of families without fathers, St Joseph calls for men to father, adopt or provide leadership to children who are not their birth children. God bless the foster care, adoptive parents and youth leaders , who give parental love to those who would otherwise never experience it.

  60. Sally Mangan's Gravatar Sally Mangan
    April 7, 2020 - 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Joseph because I have always felt that he got the short shift in the Bible. My own sons and I were blessed to have a wonderful man come into our lives who was a loving and faithful stepfather. Ironically, his name was Joseph also. Chance? I think not. L

  61. Victoria Madsen's Gravatar Victoria Madsen
    April 7, 2020 - 4:25 pm | Permalink

    This has been my first experience with Lenten Madness and I must say that I have looked forward eagerly each day to read about the saints and see what the rest of you have written. I hope to take part in this again next year. Today I went with Elizabeth for many of the same reasons already noted. Thank you to all who made this possible.

  62. April 7, 2020 - 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Ha! Ha! Silly! The idea that Joseph really existed is ludicrous!

  63. Bonnie's Gravatar Bonnie
    April 7, 2020 - 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Lent Madness has been especially important to me, also, this year. I read, study, and learn so much. I am so grateful to Tim and Scott. Sometimes a person who comments rubs me the wrong way, but they have every right to their thoughts. I just skip over them . I miss Oliver. I wonder where he is. God be with us all through these times. Until next year my dear friends in Christ…..

  64. Grace's Gravatar Grace
    April 7, 2020 - 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Joseph for the Golden Halo!

  65. Janene's Gravatar Janene
    April 7, 2020 - 5:14 pm | Permalink

    I just don’t read most of the comments.
    I try to stick to the info given about the courageous people we vote for

  66. MLM in Bethlehem's Gravatar MLM in Bethlehem
    April 7, 2020 - 5:59 pm | Permalink

    First of all, I will admit to my bias. My dad was Joseph (Patrick, but that is another story!) who did the best he could for his family. He went were his job sent him, and changed his job when yet another one tried to move him and his family somewhere that Dad thought wasn’t beneficial for all. My mother, Mary, counted on his help to raise us to become productive members of our society. And we did.

    Most of us work without any fanfare in our lives, doing what we are guided to do by the angels in our lives. We may not have the resources to perform the charity works that others do, and that is fine. But we can support the efforts of people who quietly strive to provide for their family, whether a birth family, chosen family, or family of friends. St. Joseph shows us by example how to do this.

  67. April 7, 2020 - 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Just read your meditation to my husband, Michael. We share each Lent Madness daily and then I vote! (joint decision, of course!) I didn’t expect to weep, but I did. Your words touch our hearts minds and spirits. Thank you! Today we chose Betsy, her strong advocacy for women and accomplishments were too many to deny in this contest. However, I can see that St. Joseph leads the votes, so we bow to those who chose his strong legacy of humble obedience over Betsy’s forthright, determined actions for others. We hate to see LM end, but, with you, we will continue to celebrate the empty tomb and Risen Christ, because there’s no contest when it comes to His redemptive and saving Presence in our lives!

  68. April 7, 2020 - 10:31 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Joseph the whole way because as a human one could not have closer to Jesus than Joseph except for Mary, Jesus’ mother.

  69. Barbara Gay's Gravatar Barbara Gay
    April 7, 2020 - 11:08 pm | Permalink

    I will miss Lent Madness so much! Love learning about saintly people I’d never before heard of. Today’s bloggers made the choice even more difficult. Went with Joseph in the end, but am glad Elizabeth made it to the inner circle.

  70. Shelly's Gravatar Shelly
    April 8, 2020 - 1:44 am | Permalink

    I’m a little confused. A few people said they voted for Elizabeth because Joseph is “already a saint.” Isn’t everyone in Lent Madness already a saint?

  71. Miss Jan in Portland l, OR's Gravatar Miss Jan in Portland l, OR
    April 8, 2020 - 4:36 am | Permalink

    It appears that Elizabeth is Fry-ed, but she still got my vote. Even though she will not get the 2020 Golden Halo, I hope many will be inspired to continue the work she began, for there is still much to do in the area of prison and criminal justice reform, including the abolition of the death penalty.

    Also, I will vote for Harriet tomorrow, because Joseph got to literally witness the Incarnation and was most likely the first to see Jesus, unless Mary was some sort of contortionist, therefore Joseph has already received a reward worth more than any Golden Halo. Additionally, Joseph of course knew the one Saint who is permanently disqualified from Lent Madness .

  72. One of the Jennifers's Gravatar One of the Jennifers
    April 8, 2020 - 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Amber – I missed voting yesterday and it would have been Fry for her necessary and so Christian message about humane treatment of people who are incarcerated. I give clothes to charity, I take care of sick people, but I have never in my pretty long life so far visited anyone in prison. I am at baby steps stage of listening to advocates about conditions.

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