Catherine of Genoa vs. Absalom Jones

Who will face Benedict the Moor for the 2021 Golden Halo? That’s the question of the day as Catherine of Genoa faces Absalom Jones to determine the final matchup of our little saintly contest.

Yesterday, Benedict advanced to the Championship Round by rolling past Ives of Kermartin 69% to 31%.

To make it to the Faithful Four, Catherine took down Catherine of Bologna, Isidora the Simple, and Albert the Great, while Absalom bested Henriette Delille, Marianne Cope, and Catherine Booth.

If you missed the final in-season episode of Monday Madness, be sure to catch it here. And then, go vote!

Catherine of Genoa

One of my great joys in the last year has been discovering previously unknown, to me, stories which resonate with my own faith and life. Catherine of Genoa has been at the forefront of that list of stories.

Catherine was easy for her contemporaries to write her off. At first she was too young to be taken seriously. And then she was a woman writing about her experiences of God. She was trained neither as a priest nor as an academic. She was at one point in her life too wealthy to be taken seriously – and at another too poor.

Yet through Catherine’s powerful experiences of God and her gift for translating those experiences to the written word, she gave to the world an offering that could not be ignored. Through her hands-on ministry to the sick and dying she made clear that her powerful words offered a glimpse of a faith that makes a real difference in the daily lives of those in need.

Catherine of Genoa’s life causes me to reflect on myself. How many witnesses to God’s world-changing love have I overlooked?

Catherine’s words invite me to look honestly at my pride. Have I made myself too big, or have I “hidden myself” in the heart and love of God?

And Catherine’s actions cause me to look at my daily living. Does my experience of God’s love drive me into action, into the love of my neighbor?

Mystical and theological insight. Beautiful service to her neighbor. There is much to admire in Catherine.

As I turn over another year on the calendar, I am especially inspired by Catherine’s ability to re-invent herself – the gracefulness of her discovering a second act to her life. It was only after her unhappy years of marriage, after the overturning of her financial well-being, that Catherine discovered her joyful and fulfilling calling to work in the hospital.

It was at the ripe old age of 31, in the middle of a pandemic, that Catherine began work in the hospital. For perspective, the average life expectancy at the time was about 35 years. She then spent the next 31 years working in the hospital as a nurse, administrator, spiritual guide, and comforter.

How many of us are in need of reinvention? How many are looking for that second (or third) act in our lives?

Catherine reminds us that the greatest work is not always the work of youth. That the physical, emotional, and spiritual wisdom of age can bring with it an opportunity to make a lasting difference in our communities and the world.

This Lent I pray that – like Catherine – I may be set ablaze by the fire of Divine Love. That I may discover deeper connection to God, deeper purpose in my life, and deeper love of my neighbor.

–David Hansen

Absalom Jones

Someone said in the comments that while she understood Absalom Jones’s importance, she cast her vote for someone who had a national impact. That made me ponder: What does Absalom Jones have to do with you? 

My Episcopal priest dad, Wilson Willard, proclaims: “Despite being both enslaved and discriminated against by Christians, Jones saw through and beyond their distorted witness. He labored valiantly for the Christian ideals of universal equality, liberty, and justice for all. Recognizing the catholicity professed but in practice denied by The Episcopal Church, he became the foremost pioneer of its still-evolving movement toward full inclusion for all people. He is the best example for our country and our church as we continue the struggle for racial justice and reconciliation.”

Boom! Dad was part of the founding of our diocese’s Union of Black Episcopalians chapter, where we celebrated our 35th annual Absalom Jones Symposium and Worship this year: The Impact of Racial Inequities to Environmental Justice in America.

Byron Rushing says: “Overcoming 38 years of enslavement by Episcopal slave owners, Jones and Richard Allen organized freed and enslaved Africans in Philadelphia to establish a congregation and lead those Black Christians in sacrificial acts of service to all Philadelphians, especially during the devastating 1793 yellow fever epidemic.”

“I’m deeply impressed by his faithfulness to God despite the failings of the Church,” says Natalee Hill. “He was hurt by the Church several times and yet stayed faithful to God, finding a way into leadership in a church. As a leader, he then held power and pressure of example to pave the way for so many others.” This is what I mean by global impact. He is a model of what it’s like to face adversity and keep working selflessly.

Victoria Hoppes added, “Hearing his story and learning about his legacy has taught me about a whole section of church history that I may not otherwise have learned.” Spencer Pugh agrees: “Absalom Jones’ story is so tied up with the story of the United States – especially the history we aren’t taught and discover later in life.” The black church blesses us all. And we all have a lot more to learn.

Miguel Escobar remembers Absalom Jones “for his friendship and connection to Richard Allen, founder of AME churches. Jones is representative of our longstanding connection to the African Methodist Episcopal Church.” Absalom Jones and Richard Allen worked together to better God’s people. My daughters would call this “friendship goals.”

Absalom Jones shows us what it looks like to be a Christian, a community organizer, a faith leader, and a friend. That’s what Absalom Jones has to do with you: he shows you how to follow Jesus, no matter what.

–Miriam McKenney

Catherine of Genoa vs. Absalom Jones

  • Absalom Jones (62%, 3,999 Votes)
  • Catherine of Genoa (38%, 2,429 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,428

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108 Comments to "Catherine of Genoa vs. Absalom Jones"

  1. Ann's Gravatar Ann
    March 30, 2021 - 8:02 am | Permalink

    Absalom all the way! #GoAbsalom

    • Jonathan Kollmann's Gravatar Jonathan Kollmann
      March 30, 2021 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Yes! Absalom! Woot! Woot!

    • Caleb's Gravatar Caleb
      March 30, 2021 - 1:26 pm | Permalink


  2. John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
    March 30, 2021 - 8:06 am | Permalink

    When the Methodists pushed him aside
    Sturdy Absalom Jones hit his stride.
    So a new church began,
    Ably led by this man.
    Method? Madness? I’ll let you decide.

    • Carol Richardson's Gravatar Carol Richardson
      March 30, 2021 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

      I am going to miss your limericks. Have enjoyed them so much. Thank you.

  3. Martha Richards's Gravatar Martha Richards
    March 30, 2021 - 8:10 am | Permalink

    This was a tough one to decide – after much debate with myself I had to choose Absalom Jones. Although Catherine did wonderful works, I believe that we can, at this point in time, relate more to Absalom.

    • Deirdre McElroy's Gravatar Deirdre McElroy
      March 30, 2021 - 10:46 am | Permalink

      So true

    • Laura's Gravatar Laura
      March 30, 2021 - 11:39 am | Permalink

      As a woman who came to the church in my mid 50s, and discovered dedicating my life to feeding the poor as a result of listening to the Gospel preached, I, at this point, relate more to Catherine.

    • France's Gravatar France
      March 30, 2021 - 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps if you are not a woman you can relate more to Abolom. If he were up against many others perhaps, but my vote has to go to Catherine.

  4. Kim Morse's Gravatar Kim Morse
    March 30, 2021 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    There is no doubt that Absalom Jones was of national importance! I just wish that dual saints were possible, because he and Richard Allen were so much the dynamic duo who together wedded faith and social justice.

    David Hansen, if Catherine of Genoa wins I do not know what you will do. You have championed Catherine and Benedict so admirably and written so beautifully about both. Thank you. Really.

    • March 30, 2021 - 8:20 am | Permalink

      Thank you for that, Kim

      • Marianne Clark's Gravatar Marianne Clark
        March 30, 2021 - 10:22 am | Permalink

        Amen. You are a gifted writer and have brought the lives of the saints in Lent Madness into fruition. Thank you.

        • Barbara Brooks's Gravatar Barbara Brooks
          March 30, 2021 - 6:22 pm | Permalink

          I agree!

    • Kate Mason's Gravatar Kate Mason
      March 30, 2021 - 8:28 am | Permalink

      Amen and amen, Kim. David Hansen, I have absolutely loved your write-ups, too.

      • Jack Zamboni's Gravatar Jack Zamboni
        March 30, 2021 - 8:35 am | Permalink

        What Kim and Kate said, David. You’ve brought celebrity blogging to a new height this year.

    • Jeaninejj's Gravatar Jeaninejj
      March 30, 2021 - 8:56 am | Permalink

      David Hansen, I agree regarding your thoughtful, blessed write-ups. I debated long and hard over this choice, in part due to your beautiful writeup of Catherine. My guess is Absolom will win this year – hopefully, Catherine will return to the bracket in a future year so that you can be her champion.

    • Carol Duncan's Gravatar Carol Duncan
      March 30, 2021 - 9:02 am | Permalink

      DYNAMIC DUO!!!

    • Kim's Gravatar Kim
      March 30, 2021 - 9:21 am | Permalink

      Agreed – I’m an Absalom for the Golden Halo fan, but your celebrity blog was fantastic, Mr. Hansen.

    • Miriam Mckenney's Gravatar Miriam Mckenney
      March 30, 2021 - 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Agreed – amazing witness!

    • Story's Gravatar Story
      March 30, 2021 - 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it was David Hansen’s write-up that made me vote for Catherine. Too bad she won’t win. After reading that, I really wanted her to win the Golden Halo.

  5. Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
    March 30, 2021 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    Went with Catherine. Absalom Hones was a fine man, but hes already had a bit of recognition. Let Catherine have her moment in the sun!

    • Beverly Nichols's Gravatar Beverly Nichols
      March 30, 2021 - 10:18 am | Permalink

      i agree–

  6. Deacon Mildred's Gravatar Deacon Mildred
    March 30, 2021 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    This was a harder choice than I expected. The write-up on Catherine was especially moving. Yet I voted for Absalom because of his leadership in times that remind me of ours in terms of racial relationships and health crises.

    • March 30, 2021 - 9:50 am | Permalink

      Amen. In todays world Jones is an example to be followed

  7. Michelle C's Gravatar Michelle C
    March 30, 2021 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    It’s always hard when we get to this round. I voted for both of these saints in earlier rounds and will be happy to see either of them advance. I want to commend both David Hansen and Miriam McKenney for their eloquent blogs today. I was very moved by both of them making it even harder to vote today.

  8. Rhee H.'s Gravatar Rhee H.
    March 30, 2021 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Seeing through and past the sins of Christians and their institutions and finding God is hard. Being hurt and disrespected by the Church and still following God’s call is hard. We need more of that today, and every day. Voting for Absalom Jones.

  9. Elizabeth S.'s Gravatar Elizabeth S.
    March 30, 2021 - 8:25 am | Permalink

    Thought I personally identify with Catherine (I was ordained priest on my 65th birthday), I went for Absalom because I think his example is more relevant to more people today. Go Absalom! And thank you Catherine!

  10. Kate Cabot's Gravatar Kate Cabot
    March 30, 2021 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    Hail Absalom Jones:
    Philadelphian freedman,
    Episcopal priest.

  11. Susan C.'s Gravatar Susan C.
    March 30, 2021 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    Another impossible choice to make! As I have been studying the mystics over the last couple of years, and yearn to follow their path, I will vote for Catherine of Genoa.

  12. March 30, 2021 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    Both of these are so worthy of the Golden Halo, but David Hanson’s writeup today about Catherine spoke to me. Her ability to be re-invented by God, to be transformed by difficulty rather than mired within it, inspires me.

    • Karen's Gravatar Karen
      March 30, 2021 - 10:46 am | Permalink

      Voting for Catherine today. Faced with the task of reinventing myself late in life I am inspired by this beautiful tribute to Catherine. I am also happy to salute David – and remember my great-grandparents Hansen (with an “e”).

    • Mary's Gravatar Mary
      March 31, 2021 - 1:21 am | Permalink

      I agree. David’s write up today was inspiring.

  13. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 30, 2021 - 8:37 am | Permalink

    In Catherine’s honor I humbly offer my family’s recipe for Torta Pasqualina, the traditional Genoese Easter dish. It has probably been made each Easter since my great-grandfather arrived in Brooklyn in 1868. It has varied over the years; these days we make it with spinach instead of the field greens for which Italians busily forage at this time of the year. Original recipes call for rolling out the crust into 33 tissue-paper-like layers; frozen phyllo pastry is an excellent substitute. Try it: it may become a regular part of your Easter feast.


    Heat the oven to 350 degrees and oil a baking dish. Steam 2 pounds of spinach leaves just enough to wilt them; drain them well and chop them. Slice 5 garlic cloves, or more to taste; sauté them in some olive oil in a large frying pan until they are fragrant and starting to brown. Add the spinach and sauté the mixture for a few minutes. Remove it from the heat and add salt, pepper, and marjoram to taste. Spread the mixture on the bottom of the prepared dish.

    In a medium bowl, beat 2 eggs (in all you will use six) with ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 1 pound of ricotta cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture over the spinach mixture.

    Make four wells in the mixtures in the dish and break an egg into each well. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper.

    Coat 6-8 sheets of phyllo pastry on both sides with melted butter and layer them on top of the mixtures. Trim the edges to fit the dish and cut a slit in the top.

    Bake the pie for 45 minutes.

    • Teri's Gravatar Teri
      March 30, 2021 - 8:58 am | Permalink

      this sounds delicious!!!

    • Vicar Mollie's Gravatar Vicar Mollie
      March 30, 2021 - 8:58 am | Permalink

      Oh, yum! Looks wonderful, Davis; I’m going to try it.

      I vote for Catherine, knowing Absalom Jones will win this round and likely, the Golden Halo. But Catherine has my heart today.

      • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
        March 30, 2021 - 10:36 am | Permalink

        Yes, I’m sure that Absalom Jones will “win” today. But I have been reinvented several times during my life and am in the process of a new even now and so Catherine got my vote. I’m sure she’ll be back for another Lent Madness go round.

    • March 30, 2021 - 9:15 am | Permalink

      I was looking for a vegetable dish to make this Easter. Looks like I found one! Thanks, Davis!

    • Donice Gilliland's Gravatar Donice Gilliland
      March 30, 2021 - 9:17 am | Permalink

      Fantastic sounding recipe – thank you for including it! (I didn’t see it until after siting a comment about the choices or would have consolidated my thoughts.)

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      March 30, 2021 - 10:46 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Davis. So glad to see you back. This looks a lot like spanakopita, a dish I love. And yes, the spinach is everything.

      • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
        March 30, 2021 - 11:16 am | Permalink

        It’s one of those dishes that crop up around the Mediterranean in different forms. What distinguishes it, and makes it an Easter dish, is the addition of the eggs. I neglected to mention that it should be cut through the cooked eggs, so that each diner gets half of one.

        • Grace Kennedy's Gravatar Grace Kennedy
          March 30, 2021 - 5:22 pm | Permalink

          Looks great! I can’t wait to make it.

    • Rohani Weger's Gravatar Rohani Weger
      March 30, 2021 - 4:54 pm | Permalink

      In the spirit of “gathering field greens” I will gather some of the arugula that has popped up in my lawn from a prior year. 🙂

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 30, 2021 - 7:18 pm | Permalink

      I like the addition of the eggs, Davis!

    • Barbara Gay's Gravatar Barbara Gay
      March 30, 2021 - 8:42 pm | Permalink

      this is why I always have to read the comments – sounds yummy!

    • Judith S Mack's Gravatar Judith S Mack
      March 30, 2021 - 9:15 pm | Permalink

      Thank you. Can’t wait to make it.

  14. TJMannion's Gravatar TJMannion
    March 30, 2021 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Abolve us of our prior sin of racism, Absalom. Help us find the path to Jesus, who loves and forgives all, for all time.

  15. Therese Chaplin's Gravatar Therese Chaplin
    March 30, 2021 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    Though I voted for Absalom, I love today’s writeup of Catherine. It’s moving and inspiring. Thank you David Hansen.

  16. Faith Crook Perrizo's Gravatar Faith Crook Perrizo
    March 30, 2021 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Thank you, David and Miriam for your reflections on these two great saints. I was greatly moved by David’s words on Catherine and, while I obviously did not know Absalom Jones, Wilson Willard was a mentor of mine years ago and a saint in his own right!

  17. Martha Collins's Gravatar Martha Collins
    March 30, 2021 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    Where’s the kitsch? Where was it yesterday? Have the antikitschers taken over? Or is it the woke police e!

    • Marie's Gravatar Marie
      March 30, 2021 - 9:24 am | Permalink

      The kitsch round ended last week. The Final Four leaves foolishness aside and gives the bloggers one last shot at explaining what makes their sanit special.

  18. Donice Gilliland's Gravatar Donice Gilliland
    March 30, 2021 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    Two wonderful and deserving people to consider. I fully expected to vote for Absalom today and tomorrow. David Hansen’s beautiful prayer is resonating today though, and I will gratefully keep a copy of it with me going forward. So today, I’m voting for Catherine and tomorrow (surely?) Absalom. He is indeed a saint for our times.

  19. March 30, 2021 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    So much about Catherine resonated with me. I admire her contemplative nature, which led of course (as it so frequently does) to her committing herself to helping her fellow people. I loved the thoughts regarding her coming to her calling relatively late in life, as I feel I have come to mine also late in life. It is apparent that Fr. Jones is definitely moving on to the final, deservedly so, but I am happy to cast my vote to someone I just learned about, who I find myself identifying with strongly. I was wondering how this year’s Lent Madness was going to turn out, so many fractious comments early on, but we seem to have come to a blissful end, once again. Thank you, SEC and celebrity bloggers, you have done it again!

    Happy Lent, everyone!

    • Linda Sylvester's Gravatar Linda Sylvester
      March 30, 2021 - 2:51 pm | Permalink

      I voted Absolom but David Hansen and Miriam McKinney came in a close second.

  20. Mary O'Donnell's Gravatar Mary O'Donnell
    March 30, 2021 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    I love this round because of the wonderful writings about these saints. Ives was my Golden Halo, but any one of these saints are golden. This round is very difficult. Non violent, patient, examples of God in so many ways are part of the lives of these two saints. Absalom gets my vote.

  21. The Rev. Canon John E. Lawrence's Gravatar The Rev. Canon John E. Lawrence
    March 30, 2021 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    in honor of my dear friend Wilson Willard, an Episcopal priest with whom I worked for almost a decade on the diocesan staff of Southern Ohio under an African-American bishop and who is the father mentioned by today’s celebrity blogger, I cast my vote proudly for Absalom Jones.

    • Miriam McKenney's Gravatar Miriam McKenney
      March 30, 2021 - 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Canon Lawrence! I told him to check the comments.

  22. Byron's Gravatar Byron
    March 30, 2021 - 9:43 am | Permalink
    • Constance Santana's Gravatar Constance Santana
      March 30, 2021 - 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your inciteful addition.

  23. Elinor Boyce's Gravatar Elinor Boyce
    March 30, 2021 - 9:44 am | Permalink

    We need more Absalom’s in today’s distraught and divided America

  24. Dr. Matthew Estes's Gravatar Dr. Matthew Estes
    March 30, 2021 - 9:48 am | Permalink

    Serving as Music Director at Absalom Jones Chapel in Atlanta, GA is one of the highlights of my 40-year career. Absalom has had such an impact on the entire church in ways many other congregations are unaware of. Absalom has been my inspiration to keep going no matter what challenges I have faced. COVID would not frighten Absalom. I am keeping the music program alive in a streaming way in his honor.

  25. Kitty's Gravatar Kitty
    March 30, 2021 - 9:49 am | Permalink

    I voted with my heart not my head. Jesus’s message is for about love and for me that is Catherine’s act of daily living. Oh to be set ablaze by Divine Love.

  26. Belle's Gravatar Belle
    March 30, 2021 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    While I personally identify more with Catherine of Genoa, and want to learn more about her going forward, I felt pulled to vote for Absalom Jones today. Having done my master’s thesis about an early-20th-century African American Congregational minister born shortly after the Civil War to formerly enslaved parents, I must honor his memory by voting for someone who I’m sure inspired him.

  27. JoJo's Gravatar JoJo
    March 30, 2021 - 10:05 am | Permalink

    Dear St. Catherine,
    I want you to know how mightily David Hansen has championed for you this Lenten Madness season. Like the Apostle Paul, he has Almost Persuaded me to vote for you.
    Especially today with his excellent essay on re-invention & Divine Fire & you are the only woman to make it to the Final Four, however, I, too re-invented my spiritual life by becoming an Episcopalian so Absalom Jones receives my vote today & tomorrow.

    • Patricia Gordon's Gravatar Patricia Gordon
      March 30, 2021 - 6:09 pm | Permalink

      JoJo, your comment is so moving and so generous. I love Lent Madness – it has enriched my life as well as increased my knowledge of saints I never, ever heard of but enjoyed meeting. But most of all, in this still fragile world pandemic situation, still trying to recalibrate, so to speak, I give thanks for David Hansen and his life-affirming writing and his real sense of hope. I am so grateful to him and to you for your note about him. Thank you both. I am sure St. Catherine blesses him too.

  28. Nancy D. Stevens's Gravatar Nancy D. Stevens
    March 30, 2021 - 10:08 am | Permalink

    I’m with Donice. I have both Catherine and Absalom in my bracket for today, and Absalom for the Golden Halo. However, I realize that I have the opportunity to honor both of my occupational vocations. Since I was a nurse in my first previous life, I’m voting for Catherine today. Tomorrow I’ll support the priest.

  29. Hugh's Gravatar Hugh
    March 30, 2021 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    Benedict the Moor vs Absalom Jones: Black Saints Matter!

    (sorry, couldn’t resist)

    • Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
      March 30, 2021 - 12:34 pm | Permalink

      That will/would indeed be a difficult choice! I’m going with Absalom, partly because I think his life and service to the underserved is inspiring as well as admirable, and partly because he was in Lent Madness 2016 and I think it’s his turn.
      I’ll make a note to remind me to recommend Catherine another year.

    • Grace Kennedy's Gravatar Grace Kennedy
      March 30, 2021 - 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Love it!

  30. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 30, 2021 - 10:23 am | Permalink

    I cast my vote today for Catherine, fully expecting Absalom Jones to progress. The celebrity bloggers have been wonderful this year, thank you all. Today’s write up for Catherine was particularly moving.

  31. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    March 30, 2021 - 10:35 am | Permalink

    It looks like the SEC of Lent Madness won’t need to worry about traveling to Genoa to put the Lent Madness Golden Halo upon the incorruptible head of Saint Catherine, who already has a golden throne and centuries of perfect Mass attendance.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      March 30, 2021 - 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Miss Jan, that was Catherine of Bologna. So many Catherines, so many Italian cities. Only one Golden Halo (per year), only one vote (per pilgrim).

  32. Ellen's Gravatar Ellen
    March 30, 2021 - 10:47 am | Permalink

    In honor of all the heroic, selfless health care workers who for so long have gone without recognition, my vote goes to Catherine.

  33. Tiffany's Gravatar Tiffany
    March 30, 2021 - 10:48 am | Permalink

    Fabulous advocacy for Catherine! (All of the final four write-ups have been terrific, and all four saints worthy.)

    I’m going with Absalom, however, because of him pushing America to be better, pushing the Church to accept him and others of color (and when they didn’t, walking out and starting his own church), staying in the fight for justice, and helping the race that looked down on his own race of people during the Yellow Fever epidemic. “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
    your neighbor as yourself?”

  34. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 30, 2021 - 11:06 am | Permalink

    It is with great relief that I note that neither of today’s contenders was mummified. Neither is either blogger, each still on his or her game. Sprightly, lively write-ups both. I do want to quibble that a historical life expectancy of 31 does not make one “old” at 35, tottering at the edge of the grave; it only means that all around one, infants were dying like flies. If one could survive childhood, one had a fair chance of living to a ripe old age–if one also survived the plague. Life expectancy during the Roman Empire was 27, but there were plenty of old desert fathers. Still, I don’t want that quibble to detract from my larger admiration for David Hansen’s eloquent, inspired support for his saints. Well done, DH. I did vote for Absalom Jones today; I’m finding myself turning to the home team here in these late innings. Tomorrow we enter Canterbury, and I don’t want it to end. (Should the metaphor be cricket or stickball?) What a great ride it’s been, potholes, fractious fractions, and all. And so much work remains to be done to bring in the kingdom; Absalom is a good model for that. Let this last one more day.

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      March 30, 2021 - 11:23 am | Permalink

      Well, there is that Shakespearean sonnet that begins,

      “When forty winters shall besiege thy brow
      And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
      Thy youth’s proud livery, so gazed on now,
      Will be a tattered weed, of small worth held.”

      That suggests to me that people tended to age faster in Shakespeare’s day.

      • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
        March 30, 2021 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

        Methinks the whole point of a carpe diem poem is to convince the recipient that she (or he) is aging rapidly and soon will be undesirable and therefore must immediately yield to the importunate demands of the speaker. (And as the children say, be sure to end that sentence with “In bed.”) I’m reading James Baldwin’s Another Country right now, and in the New York City of the late 1950’s the characters are all in their thirties and perceive themselves as rapidly aging, with lines in their faces and necks and chubb thickening around their waists. Of course no one exercises except for sex, and they all drink like fish, aquariums’ worth of whiskey/gin/tequila/scotch/vodka every day, and smoke like chimneys, lighting a new cigarette every paragraph. Part of their sense of premature aging is their anomie brought on by botched love and the lies they tell themselves. And of course there’s some racial anxiety underpinning the whole thing because . . . it’s the US. But I would say that aging is relative and while we are as dust, we are most fully alive when we are engaged in our missions; the bud is precursor to the blown flower, which yields back up the bud. But of course, that’s the cycle of life behind a carpe diem poem. Stay forever young, Davis.

        • March 30, 2021 - 12:26 pm | Permalink

          My plan in high school was to commit suicide at 40 (I was not really serious, or very serious, anyway), so I wouldn’t face the indignities of growing old. Now that I’m 68, I find the indignities bearable and life very much worth living and rewarding. It depends on your perspective, I guess.

        • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
          March 30, 2021 - 12:26 pm | Permalink

          Ah, now I understand about life expectancy figures—infant mortality skewed things. How sad!

  35. Ren's Gravatar Ren
    March 30, 2021 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    I have had 9 surgeries in the past 28 months and will have another one tomorrow. I have spent so much time in hospitals and am so grateful to all the doctors and nurses who have taken such good care of me, just as Catherine did so many centuries ago. So I voted for Catherine as she was such a good role model for caretakers today.

    • March 30, 2021 - 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Ren, you will be in my prayers also. You are a good model of faithfulness through adversity. This helps us all.

    • Barbara Brooks's Gravatar Barbara Brooks
      March 30, 2021 - 6:31 pm | Permalink

      Grace Church in Martinez, California will also be praying for you at Morning Prayer tomorrow. Hang in there.

  36. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 30, 2021 - 11:25 am | Permalink

    Bless you, Ren. St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts, will remember you at Morning Prayer tomorrow.

  37. Phillip Brock's Gravatar Phillip Brock
    March 30, 2021 - 11:50 am | Permalink

    I was so struck today when it dawned on me that the men who enslaved Absalom Jones were also, nominally “Christian”, and that — far from turning his back on the faith of his tormentors — he looked beyond the temporal, broken practice of those men to the truth that lay beyond. He had an enormous impact on the body of Christ. Regardless of denomination, Americans owe the black church a huge debt for keeping the actual flame of Christian love alive on these shores. We still have much to learn.

  38. Byron Rushing's Gravatar Byron Rushing
    March 30, 2021 - 12:09 pm | Permalink

    It is because of the faith of people like Absalom Jones and Richard Allen that Howard Thurman would write, “By some amazing but vastly creative spiritual insight the slave undertook the redemption of a religion that the master had profaned in his midst.”

  39. Elaine Chilcote's Gravatar Elaine Chilcote
    March 30, 2021 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

    The bloggers were excellent this year. David Hansen’s beautiful piece on Catherine almost made me vote for her, but I chose Absalom Jones. He is relevant right now for many reasons. The kitsch this year was better than ever! That car was even better than the St. Stephen Rock Candy of several years ago. Plus, we got a delicious-sounding Easter recipe from Davis Dassori. Thanks to the SEC and everyone involved in Lent Madness for making Lent educational and fun again this year.

  40. Anita's Gravatar Anita
    March 30, 2021 - 12:17 pm | Permalink


  41. Donna Lou Ritter's Gravatar Donna Lou Ritter
    March 30, 2021 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

    One of the things I see in Absalom is that when the “church” as organized and run by fallible human beings failed him, he was able to see beyond to the true church as the body of Christ and hold his faith in that.

  42. Cath Fenton's Gravatar Cath Fenton
    March 30, 2021 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

    The freemasonry connection yesterday turned me right against Absalom Jones, worthy as he was otherwise. So Catherine gets my vote.

  43. Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
    March 30, 2021 - 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I agree that all four of the finalists this year are “worthy” of the Golden Halo. I voted for Absalom Jones today, perhaps somewhat chauvinistically, because his ministry was in the United States, where we so much need good examples.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      March 30, 2021 - 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Speaking of Chauvin, I note there is a trial going on in Minneapolis right now. St. Yves, pray for justice in the US.

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        March 30, 2021 - 1:38 pm | Permalink

        Amen. I am keeping my eye on this and going for justice. I fear for what will happen if it is not granted.

  44. March 30, 2021 - 1:11 pm | Permalink

    It was a very hard choice for me today. Both are worthy. .

  45. Cheryl McC's Gravatar Cheryl McC
    March 30, 2021 - 1:42 pm | Permalink

    As a 57-year old woman, metamorphosising a this time, after a challenging 34 year marriage and death, I am voting for Catherine. I was voting for Absalom but the author’s words inspired me to change my mind. Onward to a God-filled sceond act…Amen!

  46. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 30, 2021 - 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Once again we are confronted with a six of one/half a dozen of the other kind of choice. Quite frankly, I believe that any one of the final four would wear the Golden Halo well. All things considered, I vote for Absalom Jones today. Thank you for another Lenten Journey with the Saints. I’m already looking forward to next year!

  47. Sharon Davis's Gravatar Sharon Davis
    March 30, 2021 - 2:01 pm | Permalink

    The Brother all the way

  48. A Jennifer's Gravatar A Jennifer
    March 30, 2021 - 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful write-up for Catherine by D. Hansen but today’s vote FOR Absalom Jones as a vote AGAINST the “distorted witness” he worked to overcome….a problem ongoing. Thanks to M. McKenney for bringing forward her father’s cogent and eminently quotable assessment.

  49. simple village priest's Gravatar simple village priest
    March 30, 2021 - 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Kate Cabot: “Philadelphian freedman” — dangit!
    Now somebody MUST write a parody of Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom” in honor of Absalom Jones!
    …But it can’t be me; this PA priest has liturgies and homilies and Covid-era parish logistics galore this week.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 30, 2021 - 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Where is our lyricist Michael this year? He could do it!

      • Kate Cabot's Gravatar Kate Cabot
        March 30, 2021 - 10:27 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I do believe Michael could! All I could do was wink and nod at the idea but I am very glad you caught it!

  50. SarahP's Gravatar SarahP
    March 30, 2021 - 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Having known that Absalom Jones would probably take the contest this year, I am happy, but have still voted for the underdogs pitted against him, as they were also worthy. An interesting contest this year. Thank you to the Lent Madness writers—you are inspired!

  51. Diane's Gravatar Diane
    March 30, 2021 - 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Absalom Jones as I admired him in past years and felt this year was ‘his’. He is especially relevant in todays times and especially today as the trial in Minneapolis opened and my heart broke as I heard the testimony . That said, St Catherine was a new saint to me and am so glad to have learned about her. As a nurse who has a number of acts and is anticipating another stage of life, she will be the saint I think about. Hope to be rooting for her next year!
    As others have said, thanks to both the writers today- you were amazing!

  52. Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
    March 30, 2021 - 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Every year I cringe when folks say they’re voting for “the underdog”. But today, it was really hard to have Catherine described as an “underdog”.

  53. Judith S Mack's Gravatar Judith S Mack
    March 30, 2021 - 9:29 pm | Permalink

    It was a difficult choice . Both candidates were indeed worthy of the golden halo.
    I voted for Absalom Jones because he continued to follow Christ when others would have fallen to the wayside. His reward was our country’s reward in providing a reason for Black Americans to remain or become Christians.

  54. Rev William D Loring's Gravatar Rev William D Loring
    March 31, 2021 - 12:00 am | Permalink

    Nearly 40 years ago I had the privilege of serving as interim rector of a Black parish in New England which acknowledged Absalom Jones as an inspiration for its founding (and claimed Theodore Holly as an early Rector). My initial concerns about going there as a white priest were quickly put to rest by a congregation by a Congregation that was clearly being part of the whole church — no plagues while I was there but in other ways matching Absalom’s reaction to the Yellow Fever. So yes, I gladly voted for him all the way. BTW, a special memory is of one older lady who told me, “We all love you, Fr. Bill, because you preach fast.

    • Byron's Gravatar Byron
      March 31, 2021 - 6:48 am | Permalink

      Greetings, my friend. James Theodore Holly was St. Luke’s Church, New Haven, Connecticut, from 1856 until 1861, During that time he made his first exploratory trip tHaiti.

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