Nominationtide is upon us!

For one full week, the Supreme Executive Committee will be accepting nominations for Lent Madness 2022. The nominating period will remain open through Monday, June 7, at which point this brief exercise in Lenten democracy will cease and the SEC will return to their regularly scheduled benevolently authoritarian ways.

Nominationtide, the most underrated of liturgical seasons, never begins at the same time other than the vague “sometime after Easter Day.” This is partly because Tim and Scott have day jobs and partly because “whim” is one of their ecclesiastical charisms. But it’s here! And the world rejoices!

To insure your SUCCESSFUL nomination, please note the Nominationtide Rules & Regulations, which reside in an ancient illuminated manuscript tended to by aged monks who have been set aside by saints and angels for this holy calling.

  1. The nominee must, in fact, be dead.
  2. The nominee must be on the official calendar of saintly commemorations of some church.
  3. We will accept only one nominee per person.
  4. You must tell us WHY you are nominating your saint.
  5. The ONLY way to nominate a saint will be to leave a comment on this post.
  6. That means comments left on Facebook, Twitter, attached to a brick and thrown through the window at Forward Movement headquarters, or placed on giant placards outside the residences of Tim or Scott don’t count.

As you discern saints to nominate, please keep in mind that a number of saints are ineligible for next year’s Saintly Smackdown. Based on longstanding tradition, this includes the entire field of Lent Madness 2021, those saints who made it to the Round of the Elate Eight in 2020 and 2019, and those from the 2018 Faithful Four.

Needless to say Jesus, Mary, Tim, Scott, past or present Celebrity Bloggers, and previous Golden Halo Winners are also ineligible. Below is a comprehensive list of ineligible saints. Please keep this in mind as you submit your nominations. Do not waste your precious nomination on an ineligible saint!

For the sake of “transparency,” the rest of the process unfolds thusly: Tim and Scott will gather for the annual Spring SEC Retreat at a secure, undisclosed location/coffee shop to consider the nominations and create a full, fun, faithful, and balanced bracket of 32 saints. Then all will be revealed on All Brackets’ Day, November 3rd. Or at least, “that’s the ways we’ve always done it.”

Time to nominate your favorite saint! But first, look over this list. Don’t throw away your shot.

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Monday Madness — Easter Tuesday Edition

Proving, once again, they are accountable to no one, the Supreme Executive Committee has released Monday Madness on a Tuesday, whilst still calling it “Monday” Madness. Tim and Scott are here this week to celebrate the 2021 Golden Halo victory of Absalom Jones.

Absalom Jones mugYou might like to celebrate Absalom’s victory with a commemorative 2021 Golden Halo Winner Absalom Jones mug. Enjoy your favorite warm beverage and treasure the memories of this year’s Saintly Smackdown. Actually, buy two in case you break one!

By the way, if you’re trying to round out your Lent Madness mug collection, we still have a few 2019 Golden Halo Winner Martha of Bethany mugs left. (vintage Lent Madness mugs are a sound financial investment, by the way – basically the ecclesiastical equivalent of Bitcoin)

Tim and Scott also remind everyone how to nominate your favorite saints for Lent Madness 2022. Sometime during Eastertide, the SEC will start Nominationtide, a weeklong season during which you may submit your nominations for the Lent Madness 2022 bracket. Each person is invited to submit ONE saint and say why that saint should be included. That’s the one and only way to nominate saints, and it’s happening in the next few weeks.

While you wait for Lent to start next year, you might like to pass the time by enjoying reflections for each day of Eastertide. Scott has written reflections for Eastertide, and they’re being posted every day over on 50days.org.

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Absalom Jones Wins 2021 Golden Halo!

Absalom Jones banner

The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness congratulates Absalom Jones for winning the 2021 Golden Halo. Absalom becomes the 12th saint to wear the highly coveted crown by defeating the always-inspiring Benedict the Moor. He joins previous Golden Halo winners George Herbert (2010), C.S. Lewis (2011), Mary Magdalene (2012), Frances Perkins (2013), Charles Wesley (2014), Francis of Assisi (2015), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (2016), Florence Nightingale (2017), Anna Alexander (2018), Martha of Bethany (2019), and Harriet Tubman (2020).

Absalom Jones mugTo celebrate the victory of Absalom Jones, maybe you’d like a commemorative mug? You can enjoy your favorite warm beverage (the SEC recommends fair trade single-origin coffee, though they understand these also work well with tea) while remembering this epic season of Lent Madness 2021. Order your own mug today! They’re just $12 and should ship sometime in late spring.

Would you like to nominate a saint for Lent Madness 2022? Tim and Scott will be opening up the week-long nomination process (aka Nominationtide) in the coming weeks. While many are called, only 32 are chosen. Stay tuned for details!

Finally, blessings to all as we head into the Triduum and enter into the death and resurrection of our Lord. It’s been a privilege to have you join us on our Lenten pilgrimage. Stay safe out there, and know that you remain fervently in our prayers.

Pausing just before the end…

lent madness logo

As Lent Madness 2021 winds down, sports fans might well expect us to say, “Any rebroadcast, retransmission, or account of this Saintly Smackdown, without the express written consent of the Supreme Executive Committee, is prohibited.” But that’s not really our jam.

Other than our insistence that people vote once and once only, we’re pretty relaxed about how Lent Madness is shared and played. We like it when people organize email campaigns for their saint. We love the fan art and many projects that pop up.

In fact, rather than use the just-before-the-end moment to chasten you with rules, we want to pause for a moment of gratitude and a word of hope.

As we mentioned on Monday Madness this week, even the Supreme Executive Committee can admit that we couldn’t do Lent Madness ourselves. It takes a whole team to make this happen.

We are grateful for our Distinguished Celebrity Bloggers Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, and David Sibley. Our Celebrity Bloggers this year were Amber Belldene, Anna Fitch Courie, David Creech, Miguel Escobar, Neva Rae Fox, David Hansen, Emily McFarlan Miller, Carol Howard Merritt, and Miriam Willard McKenney. All of them work hard on short deadlines to bring you biographies, quotes, kitsch, and more. We can’t forget our Distinguished Bracket Czar, Adam Thomas, who keeps our official bracket updated and writes the unforgettable yet ephemeral headlines to announce each day’s competition news.

Forward Movement has sponsored Lent Madness since 2012. The whole team gets involved, including editors, designers, sales folks, marketers, and, of course, editors. Thanks to the Forward Movement team: Liz Brignac, Loren Dixon, Christina Dorn, Vicki Everett, Alyssa Finke, Samantha Franklin, Amy Golden, Carrie Graves, Tania Z. Jones, Kathy Jose, Allison Sandlin Liles, Miriam McKenney, Jason Merritt, Hugo Olaiz, Aleia Robinson, Peggy Sanchez, Jay Sidebotham, Richelle Thompson, and Chris Yaw.

We are profoundly grateful to the many fans of Lent Madness. The comments sections here — unlike most of the internet — are usually a delight. We love seeing how each year a community is formed.

This year, we enjoyed the poetry of John Cabot in the comments. We loved seeing the peg dolls that the Cathedral of St. James in South Bend, Indiana painted (and their amazing opening video). We loved Ellie Singer’s TikTok videos, including today’s video for Absalom Jones vs. Benedict the Moor. Seth Reese built an incredible website for people to post their brackets. To all of you, we say, wow, wow, wow.

Thank you to those we have named and to the whole company of Lent Madness players and fans on earth and in heaven.

We hope you have enjoyed Lent Madness, but even more, we hope that in these saints you have found inspiration. If God can work in such diverse people from all times and places, perhaps God can work in any of us. In these saints, we know that we have friends in heaven, those who have fought the good fight and who can cheer us on in our earthly journey.

If you are grateful, we invite you to make a donation to Forward Movement to support this work. Forward Movement offers inspiration and hope to people around the world with free websites such as Lent Madness, Grow Christians, and 50 Days. Each year, Forward Movement sends over 100,000 copies of free printed material to incarcerated persons, hospital patients, nursing home residents, and deployed military personnel. Forward Movement has provided free resources during the pandemic. All of this, including Lent Madness, is made possible because of generous donors. You can contact the friendly folks at Forward Movement to make your gift or you can give online right now.

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For the Golden Halo: Benedict the Moor vs. Absalom Jones

The end (of Lent Madness 2021) is near! It’s hard to believe we kicked things off over five weeks ago on “Ash Thursday” with 32 saintly souls. With your help, the field has been whittled down to just two: Benedict the Moor and Absalom Jones. Who will receive the coveted 2021 Golden Halo? That, friends, is up to you.

This excellent video comes from the Cathedral of Saint James in South Bend, Indiana, makers of the awesome opening video for this year’s Lent Madness.

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

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

Of course we literally couldn’t have done this without our amazing Celebrity Bloggers to whom we offer sincere gratitude: Amber Belldene, Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, Anna Fitch Courie, David Creech, Miguel Escobar, Neva Rae Fox, David Hansen, Miriam McKenney, Carol Howard Merritt, Emily McFarlan Miller, and David Sibley. Thanks to Bracket Czar Adam Thomas for his stellar behind-the-scenes work in keeping the bracket updated daily. You all rock!

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It’s Spy Wednesday Eve! But what is Spy Wednesday?

As the Lent Madness faithful are fully aware, voting for the Golden Halo takes place tomorrow, on the Wednesday of Holy Week. You may have heard the Supreme Executive Committee refer to this day as “Spy Wednesday.” They mentioned this day several times in this week’s episode of Monday Madness. Unlike many terms associated with the saintly smackdown, the SEC did not, in fact, make up this name on a whim, unlike Scott trying to convince you that yesterday was Nard Monday and today is Grain Tuesday. Thus, as several of you have asked us about this unusual name for the Wednesday in Holy Week, we thought we’d shed some light on this.

First of all, Spy Wednesday does not refer to James Bond, the Cold War, or even the famous Spy vs. Spy comic strip popularized by Mad Magazine (though there is an uncanny resemblance here to Tim and Scott).

Spy Wednesday gets its name because it is the day on which Judas betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin. Because Judas is thought to be sneaky, his actions conjured up the image of a spy. The synoptic gospels all include an account of the betrayal — Matthew 26:12-14, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6.

This is how the Gospel of Luke recounts the events:

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present. (Luke 22:3-6)

Spy Wednesday iconThe icon here evocatively depicts this infamous scene of dark spy-like conspiracy. If you enter fully into every day of Holy Week, the Gospel readings provide the narrative of Jesus’ final days, an ever-quickening story that spins out of control and finally brings us to Good Friday.

It is surely a strange juxtaposition to think about Spy Wednesday and Lent Madness in the same moment. But the whole point of Lent Madness is to engage us all in an exploration of the ways God’s grace has filled the lives of women and men through history and across all cultures. Sure, we’ve been silly and even competitive about our Lenten exercise. In the end though, we are learning to see in fresh ways how Jesus Christ matters to all humanity. That seems like a good and holy thing to do on Spy Wednesday.

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!

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Monday Madness — Faithful Four Edition

As Lent Madness reaches its peak excitement with the onset of the Faithful Four, Tim and Scott are back with another episode of Monday Madness. They give an overview of the Faithful Four and the coming Championship smackdown, but also assure you that the 2021 Golden Halo will be awarded in time for you to properly observe the latter part of Holy Week. Because Godliness comes before silliness. Or cleanliness. Or something.

Naturally, there’s a bit of product placement, as Scott sips (single origin coffee*) from his 2019 Golden Halo Winner Martha of Bethany mug. You can get your own mug, too! And also a hint of what’s coming for everybody’s favorite ecclesiastical season of Nominationtide.

Even the Supreme Executive Committee, not known for their tiny egos or excessive humility, must admit that Lent Madness could not happen without legions of bloggers, writers, editors, researchers, marketers, bracket-keepers, videographers, poets, and more. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to everyone who makes Lent Madness possible.

This is here for social media sharing and also so you can tape it to your fridge as a reminder to come back to this website on Wednesday to learn about its special name.

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Benedict the Moor vs. Ives of Kermartin

Welcome to the Faithful Four! From an initial field of 32 saints, we have sliced the field down to four saints. Only one of whom will be crowned with the 2021 Golden Halo. It’s all comes down to Benedict the Moor, who faces Ives of Kermartin today and Catherine of Genoa, who squares off against Absalom Jones tomorrow. Then on Spy Wednesday, the two remaining titans of faith will compete for the ultimate prize, with the winner being announced at 8:00 am Eastern time on Maundy Thursday.

To get to this round, Benedict defeated Nino of Georgia, Euphrosyne, and Camillus de Lellis. While Ives took down Jacapone da Todi, Dunstan, and Arnulf of Metz.

After learning about our saintly heroes via basic bios, quirks and quotes, and even kitsch, in this round, we let our remaining Celebrity Bloggers loose as they answer the question “Why should Saint XX win the Golden Halo?” In other words, they’ve been charged with letting us know why their particular saint is so awesome. We have also invited them to share their two favorite images of their saints.

Let’s get this Faithful Four party started!

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Albert the Great vs. Catherine of Genoa

After a madcap few days of saintly kitsch, we are down to the final battle of the Elate Eight. Today Albert the Great takes on Catherine of Genoa with the last spot in the Faithful Four at stake. The winner will face Absalom Jones in the next round.

To reach the Elate Eight, Albert took down Leo the Great and Empress Theodora, while Catherine bested Catherine of Bologna and Isidora the Simple.

Yesterday Ives of Kermartin defeated Arnulf of Metz 62% to 38%, meaning he’ll take on Benedict the Moor in the first matchup of the Faithful Four. Be sure to tune in first thing Monday morning as things really start to heat up in Lent Madness 2021. The end is drawing nigh!

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