Theodora of Alexandria vs. Theodora the Empress

Welcome to the final battle of the first full week of Lent Madness 2021 aka the Theodora Throwdown! Today it’s Theodora of Alexandria vs. Theodora the Empress. Only one Theodora will make it to the next round.

Yesterday Arnulf of Metz left Vincent of Saragossa to drown his sorrows 56% to 44%. Arnulf will face off against Egeria in the Saintly Sixteen.

Go ahead and catch your breath this weekend. We’ll be back for another engaging week of First Round battles bright and early Monday morning as Evagrius the Solitary tangles with Euphrosyne. But first, cast your vote!

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Arnulf of Metz vs. Vincent of Saragossa

Like a fine wine or a craft beer, Lent Madness goes down smoothly with notes of penitence and joy. Fortunately, with today’s battle, we have both possibilities at play. Arnulf of Metz is the patron saint of beer brewers; Vincent of Saragossa is the patron saint of wine makers. They have other identities as well, as you’ll soon discover.

Yesterday, in what any commentators are calling a major upset, Catherine Booth doused Joan of Arc 63% to 37%.

You know, one of the things we love about Lent Madness is the ecumenical nature of both the bracket and the participants. We’re happy to give our Lutheran friends some love, and bid you to check out the brilliant video podcast Reflections on Faith by the Rev. Tim Westrmeyer of St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church in Plymouth, Minnesota. Enjoy!

And then go vote.

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Joan of Arc vs. Catherine Booth

Welcome to the highly anticipated matchup between the Wednesday Warrior Women! Today Joan of Arc, the young soldier/saint, faces Catherine Booth, preacher and driving force behind the formation of the Salvation Army. See…warriors.

Yesterday, in a hotly contested matchup — the closest battle so far this year — Melangell held Hermione at bay 52% to 48% to advance to the next round. This marks the first time a Saintly Sixteen battle has been finalized as Melangell will square off against Camillus de Lellis.

Please also note that at about 8:30 pm EST, the Lent Madness Voter Security Unit noticed 389 bogus votes for Hermione. These votes were removed, and the suspect addresses were blocked. This is a reminder. Do not cheat. Vote once. Get your neighbors to vote. But don’t vote several times, lest you be cast into the outer darkness of Lent Madness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Rest assured that those who perpetrate voter fraud in Lent Madness will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Law of Moses.

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Hermione vs. Melangell

Saints end up in the Lent Madness bracket for a variety of reasons. Some for heroic acts or miracles, some for leadership or great teachings. And some simply because they have cool names (ie. Christina the Astonishing in 2014). Today’s saintly souls didn’t end up in the bracket because of their names alone, but they are kind of awesome. Hermione vs. Melangell. It just kind of rolls off the tongue — at least if you can pronounce them. But just to be clear, Hermione is not the one from the Harry Potter series. And Melangell is not the one from, well, no best-selling book series we’re aware of. Yet.

Yesterday, Albert the Great proved greater than Leo the Great 54% to 46% in a matchup between two great saints.

Also yesterday, Tim and Scott shared another epic episode of Monday Madness. You can watch it here, but know that we’re disappointed in you. Fortunately you can redeem yourself by watching this week’s episode and waiting with an expectant heart for next week’s version.

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Monday Madness — February 22, 2021

It’s OK to enjoy things in Lent, especially right now when it’s time to sit back and enjoy the latest episode of Monday Madness. Tim and Scott are back with another genre-defining episode. They review the battles of the week to come, including some fantastic themed contests.

There’s also a shout-out to the wonderful fans of Lent Madness. The star this week is Ellie Singer, whose daily TikTok videos are stupendous. Follow @elliegsing on Twitter or TikTok to keep up. Oh, while you’re there, make sure you’re following @LentMadness on Twitter and Facebook.

Also, the Supreme Executive Committee is trying to set a record for the number of text effects used in one short clip. We’re not sure if we’ve got the record, but we must be close.

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Albert the Great vs. Leo the Great

We’re back for the first full week of Lent Madness 2021. That’s five straight days of heart-stopping saintly thrills. Although the first three matchups haven’t been particularly close (Camillus de Lellis, Constantine, and Egeria all won handily), a tight race always lurks just around the bracket corner.

Today, it’s the Battle of the Greats as Albert the Great squares off against Leo the Great to determine, once and for all, just who is the greatest? (with all due respect to Muhammad Ali, of course).

Over the weekend, in the only Saturday matchup of the season, Egeria saw her way past Tarcisius 61% to 39%. Don’t forget you can click on the Bracket Tab to check past results and access the Matchup Calendar to see the upcoming pairings. Now go vote!

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Tarcisius vs. Egeria

Welcome to the one and only Saturday vote of Lent Madness 2021. After today, your weekends will be free from difficult and heart-wrenching electoral/sanctoral decisions. Today, though, it’s Tarcisius vs. Egeria

Yesterday, Constantine dominated Miguel Pro 62% to 38% in a controversial matchup that left some voters abstaining, but every voter thinking, contemplating, and learning. Which is precisely the point!

Enjoy the Lord’s Day tomorrow and we’ll see you bright and early on Monday morning as we begin the first full week of Lent Madness 2021, with the Battle of the Greats as Leo the Great takes on Albert the Great. Thanks for joining us on this journey. We are truly grateful you’ve made Lent Madness part of your Lenten devotions this year.

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Miguel Pro vs. Constantine

Congratulations! You have successfully made it to day two of Lent Madness 2021. If Lent Madness is part of your Lenten discipline this year – and we sincerely hope it is – you’re doing great so far! Our competition continues today with an intriguing matchup between Miguel Pro and Constantine. You might say there are PROS and CONS to be weighed as you decide for whom to cast your vote.

In yesterday’s opening matchup, Camillus de Lellis trounced Matthias in a Biblical beatdown 71% to 29% to advance to the Saintly Sixteen. If you’d like to see an updated bracket, you can simply visit the Bracket Tab each day. Bracket Czar Adam Thomas updates it daily for your viewing pleasure. He also shares links to each previous battle, which comes in handy when you seek a refresher in the later rounds.

Speaking of brackets, in case you missed the incredible peg doll video featuring all 32 saints in this year’s bracket created by the talented team at the Cathedral of St. James in South Bend, Indiana, you can watch it here. Seriously. Do yourself a favor and revel in two minutes of joy that we could all surely use.

Finally, don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for the ONLY Saturday matchup of Lent Madness as Tarcisius takes on Egeria.

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Camillus de Lellis vs. Matthias

Welcome to the opening matchup of Lent Madness 2021! We kick things off with what we’re calling the Gambler’s Gambit, a matchup between Camillus de Lellis and Matthias. Of course, there’s much more to these two than the fact that one is a reformed gambler and the other was chosen by lot (gambling!). But that’s what our amazing Celebrity Bloggers are here for — to bring to life the varied aspects of our saintly lineup over the coming weeks.

If you’re a veteran of the Saintly Smackdown, we’re delighted you’re back for another year of saintly thrills and spills. If you’re joining us for the first time, we’re especially glad you’re along for this wild penitential ride. If you’re curious about what this all entails, check out the About Lent Madness tab on the website. We assure you this is the safest, most socially-distanced Lenten devotion out there.

To experience the fullness of the Lent Madness experience, the Supreme Executive Committee (the somewhat benevolent dictatorship that runs this whole enterprise) encourages you to do several things. First, “like” Lent Madness on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter. Second, subscribe to the Lent Madness e-mails so you never miss a vote — you’ll get each matchup hand-delivered to your inbox on the weekdays of Lent. You can do this by going to the home page of our website and entering your e-mail address (near the top right). Third, you can support the ministry of Lent Madness by heading over to the Lentorium and purchasing Lent Madness swag, thereby impressing everyone in your virtual pew.

But mostly, we encourage you to read about the 32 saints participating in this year’s edition of Lent Madness, faithfully cast your (single!) vote on the weekdays of Lent, and add your comments to the great cloud of participating witnesses that gathers as the online Lent Madness community each year. If you’re wondering when your favorite saint will be competing – in order to rally your friends and neighbors (creative campaigning is encouraged, voter fraud is not) – you can check out the 2021 Matchup Calendar.

But enough blathering. It’s time to cast your very first vote of Lent Madness 2021!

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Always Resurrection

“It is winter in Narnia,” said Mr. Tumnus, “and has been for ever so long…always winter, but never Christmas.” In the imaginative writing of Golden Halo 2011 winner C. S. Lewis, Narnia was in the grip of what seemed like an endlessly grim winter. It’s not hard for us to grasp this image as the United States is largely covered with snow and filled with shivering people in the midst of a pandemic.

flowers in snow

In the church, one would be forgiven for thinking it’s always Lent and never Easter. Last year’s Lent started pretty normally, but most churches closed to in-person worship before Holy Week. We started a Lenten journey that it may well seem we never finished. In the last year, we’ve been worn down by a pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Our normal patterns and beloved customs are disrupted.

One may wonder if we’re in the grip of an endlessly grim Lent as we start anew our Lenten journey. After all, the previous Lent never seems to have ended. No matter how we celebrate Easter, or even if we skip it entirely, nothing can change the fact that the tomb was empty one morning long ago in ancient Jerusalem. We can’t be sure what this year’s Easter will look like. But we can be sure that Christians around the world will find ways to celebrate the triumph of Jesus Christ over evil, of love over sin, of life over death.

Jesus frees us from the grip of sin, and he certainly frees us from the grip of an endlessly grim Lenten journey.

At Lent Madness, we are fond of reminding people that Lent is not about misery, though it may sometimes be about fasting and self-denial. During the holy season of Lent, we “prepare with joy for the Paschal feast” as we turn our hearts and our lives toward Jesus. In that way, even in Lent, we are always suffused with joy.

This Ash Wednesday will be unlike any other. You may not even receive ashes. Fortunately, the real centerpiece of Ash Wednesday — despite the name — is not the mark of our mortality, but the invitation to a holy Lent, the litany of penitence, and the recitation of Psalm 51.

There are three verses of Psalm 51 that stand out to us as important this year as we contemplate the start of another Lenten journey.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, *
and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence *
and take not your holy Spirit from me.

Give me the joy of your saving help again *
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

Today we step back from the usual silliness of Lent Madness to invite you to a holy Lent. Let us all pray that we might know the joy of God’s saving help and the power of God’s bountiful Spirit. By God’s mighty grace, there is always Resurrection.

Wishing you a blessed Lenten journey,
Tim+   Scott+

Photo by flickr user Henna K.