Happy All Brackets' Day!

Following the heady days of Nominationtide, and the submission of hundreds of saintly nominations from the Lent Madness faithful, the Supreme Executive Committee is pleased to release the highly anticipated 2023 Lent Madness bracket. Following their Spring Retreat, held in a secure, undisclosed coffee shop, amid the consumption of massive amounts of single origin black coffee, Tim and Scott whittled the field to 32 saints, who will compete for the coveted Golden Halo.

This year's bracket is broken up into four themed quadrants: Ancient & Apostolic, Mostly Monastics, Royals Roundup, and Modern Mayhem. As always, the bracket contains well known saints along with some obscure ones. But they all inspire us by following Jesus in their own times and in their own ways. (click on the bracket below to enlarge and/or print it)

As a reminder, or if you're new to this wacky online devotion, you can learn how it all works by clicking here. Unlike professional and collegiate sporting events, there is no admission cost for Lent Madness, but souvenirs and study aids are available in the Lentorium. These include the ever-popular Saintly Scorecard: The Definitive Guide to Lent Madness 2023 (order as single copies or in discounted 10-packs) and giant Bracket Posters. All of which are AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW! 

Why pre-order Lenten materials before Advent? Because the Scorecards and Posters always sell out and you don’t want to disappoint anyone in your church and/or household. And if you're marking your calendar, Lent Madness begins on Ash Thursday, February 23.

We're pleased to welcome ten Celebrity Bloggers from across the country to write for Lent Madness 2023: the Rev. Laurie Brock of Lexington, KY; Anna Fitch Courie of Columbia, SC; Dr. David Creech of Moorhead, MN; the Rev. Megan Castellan of Ithaca, NY; Neva Rae Fox of Somerville, NJ; the Rev. Heidi Haverkamp of Indianapolis, IN; Emily McFarlan Miller of Chicago, IL; Miriam McKenney of Cincinnati, OH; the Rev. David Sibley of Walla Walla, WA, and the Rev. Eva Suarez of New York, NY.

In the meantime, start choosing your favorite saints and...Happy Lent!

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Monday Madness -- Eastertide Edition

Alleluia, Christ is risen and it's time for another episode of Monday Madness! The Lord is risen indeed, and Tim and Scott are here with an action-packed episode. Naturally, they celebrate the incredibly dramatic victory of Dr. José Hernández to win the 2022 Golden Halo. With just a three-vote margin, it was the closest champtionship contest in Lent Madness history.

2022 Golden Halo mugYou might like to celebrate the win of Dr. Hernández by raising a toast in a commemorative 2022 Golden Halo winner mug. Limited quantities will be produced, so get your order in today! We expect them to ship in early summer, but shipping dates and the exact final appearance of the mug may vary due to supply chain issues. But once they're gone, they're gone. Order yours today!

If you do order a mug, when your mug arrives, please send us your mug shot! We love sharing photos of the Lent Madness Global Viewing Public enjoying their coffee (or tea) while they discuss bracketology or relive the drama of the Saintly Sixteen.

Easter Triumph Easter Joy book coverSpeaking of ordering things, if you're looking for a way to sustain Easter joy, Scott's latest book is Easter Triumph, Easter Joy: Meditations for the Fifty Days of Eastertide. You can get it in paper from Amazon, Forward Movement, or your local bookseller. It's also available as an ebook.

Tim wrote a humorous look at the season some years ago, Dust Bunnies in the Basket: Finding God in Lent & Easter, available as a book and ebook.

Visit the Lentorium regularly for updates on books and merchandise for Lent Madness fans.


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Happy Easter -- the Sequel to Lent

As you might guess, we're pretty devoted to Lent here at Lent Madness HQ. But even we have often said that Lent is the warm-up for the bigger season, the great fifty days of Easter. Indeed, the liturgy of the Episcopal Church reminds us that Lent is a season to "prepare with joy for the Paschal feast."

So let us be among the first to wish you a joyful and blessed Easter!

Whether you are celebrating José Hernández's win, weeping bitter tears over Teresa of Avila's narrow loss, or among those whose brackets were totally busted early on, Jesus rose for you. Jesus rose for saints and sinners, liberals and conservatives, old and young, and every glorious variety of human on this beautiful world in which we live.

In Easter we celebrate the triumph of God's grace and mercy over the powers of sin and death. The universe is changed, and for that we shout a hearty, "Alleluia!"

We worry though that some people have a momentary blip of Easter joy and then get on with business as usual, even though the cosmic powers of the status quo are permanently cast down.

Today we want to invite you to celebrate Easter for the full fifty days. There are lots of ways you can do that. Over at the 50 Days blog, you can find daily reflections for whole Easter season. Sign up to get daily emails, or just visit the site each day.

Easter Triumph Easter Joy book coverTim and Scott have both written books to help you out. Scott's latest book, just published, is Easter Triumph, Easter Joy: Daily Meditations for the Fifty Days of Eastertide. You can get it in paper or start reading right away on your Kindle. Tim approached this time of year with humor in Dust Bunnies in the Basket: Finding God in Lent & Easter, also available in paper or for your Kindle.

You can decide to read the Book of Acts over the Easter season. Or commit to daily prayers. Write Alleluia on someone's sidewalk (in chalk!) every day. Find your own way to keep up the Easter joy.

Speaking of keeping up joy, there's one more annual appeal left for us to make. Forward Movement is proud to sponsor Lent Madness. It's a way to encourage more joy in a sometimes joy-less world and to help us see the ways Christ's light shines in the hearts of people of all cultures, races, types, and times. While we do sell some merch, we keep Lent Madness free for anyone who'd like to play.

Forward Movement offers other resources for free. If you or someone you know is wondering how to raise children in the faith, check out Grow Christians, a free resource for households with chidlren trying to sort out what it means to follow Jesus together. Forward Movement offers free podcasts, apps, and a rich daily prayer website, all for free. They also give over 100,000 books and booklets away for free each year, mostly to prisons, but also for hospitals, nursing homes, and military bases.

Everything Forward Movement does is made possible by the generosity of donors. If you are able to make a gift to help Forward Movement continue to share the Good News of God in Jesus Christ, your gift will make a difference. If you can't make a gift, that's OK too.

We wish you a joyous fifty days of Easter. Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia.

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José Hernández Wins 2022 Golden Halo!

In a year marked by razor-thin margins of victory, the championship round between Teresa of Avila and José Gregorio Hernández did not disappoint! In the end, José  snuck past Teresa in a photo finish to win the 2022 Golden Halo. Both of these saints captured the imaginations of the Lent Madness global voting public and both are worthy of this ecclesiastical accolade. We are pleased to award Teresa the (rare) Silver Halo to mark this year's accomplishments.

Rest assured the result, while exceedingly close, is accurate. The Supreme Executive Committee spent the morning in the mezzanine-level review booth conducting a forensic analysis of the voting. There was some cheating involved on both sides and we eliminated those votes (come ON, people!).

José 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), Harriet Tubman (2020), and Absalom Jones (2021).

To celebrate José's victory, perhaps 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 2022. Order your own mug today! They're just $11 and should ship sometime in the early summer.

Would you like to nominate a saint for Lent Madness 2023? 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. Happy Lent!


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For the Golden Halo: Teresa of Avila vs. José Hernández

The end (of Lent Madness 2022) 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: Teresa of Avila and José Hernández. Who will receive the coveted 2022 Golden Halo? That, friends, is up to you.

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 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, Neva Rae Fox, David Hansen, Miriam McKenney, Emily McFarlan Miller, David Sibley, and Eva Suarez. Thanks to Bracket Czar Adam Thomas for his stellar behind-the-scenes work in keeping the bracket updated daily. You all rock!

Thank you to Richelle Thompson and everyone at Forward Movement for putting up with our shenanigans and producing a terrific Saintly Scorecard this year. Special gratitude goes to Ashley Graham-Wilcox for helping get words and images into the website each day.

Finally, thanks to all of you who participated by voting, commenting, drinking coffee out of Lent Madness mugs, filling in brackets, talking about saints with friends, liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter, and allowing us to play a small role in your Lenten journey. We’ve loved having each one of you along for the “madness” and on behalf of the Supreme Executive Committee we wish you a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter.

Before we invite you to cast this final vote, we should note that Neva Rae Fox has ably shepherded Teresa of Avila through the bracket, while Eva Suarez has done the same for José Hernández. We’ve asked them for a single image and one quote either by or about their saint. We’ve already heard a lot about Teresa and José, so now it's time to make your final choice.

The polls will be open for 24 hours and the winner will be announced at 8:00 am Eastern time on Maundy Thursday. Now go cast your vote — the 2022 Lent Madness Golden Halo hangs in the balance!



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Thomas of Villanova vs. José Hernández

Who will face Teresa of Avila for the Golden Halo? That's the question of the day as Thomas of Villanova squares off against José Hernández. Yesterday, Teresa advanced to the championship round by narrowly defeating Madeleine Sophie Barat 52% to 48%. We're getting close!

In case you missed yesterday's episode of Monday Madness, you can watch it here.


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Monday Madness -- Faithful Four Edition

The frenetic pace of Lent Madness continues with the arrival of the Faithful Four! Which of these four amazing saints will win the Golden Halo? Only time -- and your votes -- will tell. Tim and Scott are here with a look at the Faithful Four and the next few days of Monday Madness. The end is nearly upon us and we're anticipating a high energy saintly crescendo.

Besides learning the real names of the first few days of Holy Week, this episode features gratitude to our illustrious company of Celebrity Bloggers and all the others who work hard to make Lent Madness a huge global phenomenon (for a Lenten devotion).


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Teresa of Avila vs. Madeleine Sophie Barat

Welcome to the Faithful Four! From an initial field of 32 saints, we are down to a holy four: Teresa of Avila, Madeleine Sophie Barat, Thomas of Villanova, and José Hernández.

Throughout Lent Madness, our saintly heroes have battled 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.

The Faithful Four continues today and tomorrow and then, on Spy Wednesday, 24 hours of voting begins to determine the winner of the 2022 Golden Halo.


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Thomas of Villanova vs. Thomas Aquinas

Our wild week of kitschy saintly action comes to a conclusion today. One final spot in the Faithful Four remains up for grabs and, while we won't know for 24 hours who has nabbed the last spot, we do know this: his name will be Thomas. Today, Thomas of Villanova faces Thomas Aquinas. To get here, Thomas of Villanova defeated Aloysius Gonzaga and Hilary of Poitiers, while Thomas Aquinas dispatched Jerome (barely!) and Oscar.

Yesterday, Madeleine Sophie Barat easily slid past Origen 72% to 28% to join Teresa of Avila and José Hernández in the Faithful Four.

Enjoy the weekend of palms and we'll see you first thing Monday morning as Teresa of Avila faces Madeleine Barat. Vote now!


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Origen vs. Madeleine Sophie Barat

The madcap Elate Eight continues today as Origen faces Madeleine Sophie Barat. To make it this deep into the bracket, Origen defeated Hilda of Whitby and Juana Ines de la Cruz, while Madeleine took out Mesrop Mashtots and Columbanus.

Yesterday in YET ANOTHER tightly contested battle of Lent Madness 2022, José Hernández squeezed past James Holly 52% to 48% to snag the second spot in the Faithful Four.


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