Lent is an Invitation

Dear friends in Christ,

On this one day a year, even Lent Madness pauses to reflect on our life, our blessings, and our mortality. The entire season of Lent is an invitation to recommit to following Jesus. This day, Ash Wednesday, is a poignant reminder that life is short. We are meant to savor our earthly life and to live it well.

At the end of life, few people regret not having worked more, nor do they wish they had spent more money on stuff. In fact, end of life regrets usually revolve around love. “I wish I had spent more time with my family. I wish I had forgiven the person who wronged me. I wish I had been a more faithful Christian.”

ash wednesday markWhen we kneel before the altar and hear the words, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” we are reminded that we are mortal. We should not delay our decision to repent, to live more fully, to follow Jesus more faithfully.

Aside from the ridiculous competition and constant silliness of Lent Madness, we hope everyone who takes part will notice something about each of the saints. Every single one of the saints was a flawed human. You might be used to seeing them in stained glass or in marble, but they were living, breathing, messed up people not so different from us. And yet, each one of these saints managed to allow God’s grace to work in them such that Christ’s light shone brightly in their lives. They were witnesses to the world of the transforming love of Jesus Christ.

Over the course of this year’s Lent Madness, you will meet 32 new saintly companions. Perhaps they will inspire you to follow Jesus in new ways, so that you can be a witness of the Good News of God in Christ. Perhaps you will invite the saints to pray for you, for they are also companions with us in our earthly pilgrimage. You see, beneath the silliness of the saintly smackdown, there lies a brighter, deeper truth in God’s grace at work in the world.

This Lenten season, we invite you to draw closer to our Lord Jesus. Give up those things which keep you away from Jesus. Take on those things that bring you closer to Jesus. We hope Lent Madness is helpful on your journey.

We wish you every blessing in this Lenten season.

Tim+         Scott+

The Supreme Executive Committee

This post is a reprise of our Ash Wednesday post from 2015. In honor of the Fifteenth Anniversary of Lent Madness, we'll be bringing you some classic content throughout this commemorative season. Hey, it was either this or sell you #LentMadnessXV trinkets. You're welcome.

Photo by Annika Gordon on Unsplash.

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Happy Nominationtide!

For one full week, the Supreme Executive Committee will be accepting nominations for Lent Madness 2024. The nominating period will remain open through Saturday, May 27, 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 2023, those saints who made it to the Round of the Elate Eight in 2022 and 2021, and those from the 2020 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! (it happens more than you'd think)

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.

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

The Saints of Lent Madness 2023 (ineligible)

Augustine of Hippo
Hippolytus of Rome
Monica
Joanna the Myrrh Bearer
Simeon Bachos
Blandina
Brendan of Clonfert
David of Wales
Rutilio Grande
Josephine Bakhita
Eric Liddell
Dorothy Sayers
Enmegabowh
Florence Li Tim-Oi
Nicolaus von Zinzendorf
Martin de Porres
Maximus the Confessor
Cuthmann of Steyning
Leoba
J.S. Bach
Harriet Monsell
Scholastica
Richard Hooker
Olga of Kiev
Bertha of Kent
Stanislaus the Martyr
Edmund
Chief Seattle
Botulph
John Donne
Juan Diego

Past Golden Halo Winners (ineligible)

George Herbert, C.S. Lewis, Mary Magdalene, Frances Perkins, Charles Wesley, Francis of Assisi, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Florence Nightingale, Anna Alexander, Martha of Bethany, Harriet Tubman, Absalom Jones, José Hernandez, Jonathan Daniels

From 2020 to 2022 (ineligible)

Teresa of Avila
Juliana of Liege
Origen
Madeleine Barat
Thomas of Villanova
Thomas Aquinas
James Holly
Camillus de Lellis
Benedict of Nursia
Ives of Kermartin
Arnulf of Metz
Albert the Great
Catherine of Genoa
Catherine Booth
Hildegard of Bingen
Elizabeth Fry
Joseph

And remember, nominations are like voting: just one per person. Let the Nominations for Lent Madness 2024 start rolling in!

 

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Happy Lent Madness Eve!

As the whole world trembles in anticipation on Lent Madness Eve, we wanted to share two items. The first is an incredible video created by our friends at St. James Cathedral in South Bend, Indiana, featuring all 32 saints (plus Tim and Scott) represented as peg dolls. These dolls were lovingly hand painted by members of the congregation.

We also share a brief bedtime story to read to the children of all ages in your home. Enjoy! And we'll see you all for our first vote of Lent Madness 2022 right here on this site at 8:00 am Eastern. Happy Lent!

The Night Before Lent Madness

'Twas the night before Lent Madness, and throughout the whole Church
the Lent Madness faithful, were doing saintly research.

The brackets were hung in the parish hall with care
in hopes that Lent Madness soon would be there.

Parishioners were nestled all snug in their beds
while visions of halos danced in their heads.

As Tim drank his coffee and Scott had his too
plotting shenanigans as they so often do.

When out in the Lent Dome there arose such a clatter
the Celebrity Bloggers sprang up to see what was the matter.

It was the clash of some martyrs or maybe a mystic
The SEC in its matchups can be so sadistic.

“Lent Madness isn’t fair!” some were heard crying
“Saints competing -- it's just so horrifying!”

When what to our wondering eyes should appear
But 32 saints hoping the others would just disappear.

Now Hilda! Now Olaf!
Now Constance of Memphis!
On Stephen! On Origen!
On Thomas Aquinas!

To the Golden Halo!
To the holiest of all!
Now go for the prize!
Play saintly hardball!

As the Lent Madness crowd prepares for a vote
we hope this all doesn't get too cutthroat.

With Lent now upon us, we're feeling contrite
Happy Lent to all, and to all a blessed night.

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Celebrity Blogger Days (part 2)

We continue our introductions of this year’s lineup of Celebrity Bloggers. Following Part 1 of this little exercise, we finish things up with the aptly named Part 2. Again, we’re asking our faithful crew to share a picture doing something they love; ask what most excites them about Lent Madness 2022; and find out if there’s anything they’d like to promote.

To see the full group and read their bios, click here.

You can usually find David Creech wearing a bicycle helmet.

What most excites you about Lent Madness 2022? I am excited for the madness. The close calls. The surprise upsets. The impassioned pleas for votes. The sweet victories. Mostly, though, I am excited to learn about the joys and travails of being human and the messiness of what it means to be faithful to God.

Anything you’d like to promote? I’ve got nothing to plug except a certain rector who is in the running to be Bishop of Southwest Florida. [editor’s note: surprisingly enough, that would be Tim]

Here’s Miriam McKenney with her girls at a BTS pop-up shop in Chicago. As she
puts it, “stanning and being with my daughters are two of my favorite things.” (What BTS? A Korean boy band. Mic drop).

What most excites you about Lent Madness 2022? What most excites me about LM 2022 is what excites me every year: learning more about saints I’ve never heard of. I’m always better for the edification Lent Madness puts out, the weirder the better.

Anything you’d like to promote? I don’t do much so I got nothing to promote.

David Hansen is a cat guy. If he’s not preaching or teaching, chances are he’s hanging out with the cats.

What most excites you about Lent Madness 2022? Overlooked in the past, this is the year of the patron saint of Coffee. Surely, equipped with Father Tim’s coffee book and a strong cup of joe, this is Saint Drogo’s year!

Anything you’d like to promote? During the pandemic, I have increased my work as a coach of congregations and clergy seeking renewal. Check out digitalpastor.org.

 

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Celebrity Blogger Days (part 1)

In the days leading up to the start of Lent Madness 2022, we're taking a moment to highlight the amazing Celebrity Bloggers who will bring alive our 32 saintly souls. Our talented stable of writers have their laptops at the ready and are amped up for an exciting battle for the Golden Halo.

The only thing we ask is that when you run into them in the grocery store or in church, please respect their privacy. It's hard to believe, but they're human beings just like the rest of us. When you meet them in public, you may notice they're wearing masks -- this is mostly to hide from the seasonal adulation.

This exercise is intended merely to humanize these paragons of the penitential. We've asked for three items: a photo that shows them doing something they love; a brief answer to the question, "What most excites you about Lent Madness 2022?"; and whether there's anything they'd like to promote? (broadly defined).

To read their full bios, click here.

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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 2022 Lent Madness bracket. Following their Spring Retreat, held in a socially-distanced, secure, undisclosed Zoom room, 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 -- Martyrs & Mystics, Theologians & Thinkers, Healers & Helpers, and the ever popular Confusion Corner, which debuted last year. While you may have many favorites among the contestants, there does not appear to be a runaway favorite in this year's contest. Which means it's anybody's bracket to win! Well, you have to be in the bracket. And dead. And a saint...

But enough of this yakking. Let’s get to the 2022 bracket!

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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.

(more…)

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Nominationtide Is Here!

In the fullness of time, the Supreme Executive Committee rests from its Lenten labors and begins accepting nominations for Lent Madness 2018.

In other words...

Welcome to Nominationtide!

For one full week, Tim and Scott will be accepting nominations for Lent Madness 2018. The nominating period will remain open through the evening of Monday, May 22. At which point the window will unceremoniously slam shut.

Please note that the ONLY way to nominate a saint is to leave a comment in this post. Nominations will not be accepted via social media, e-mail, carrier pigeon, brick through a window at Forward Movement headquarters, singing telegram, sky writer, or giant billboard along I-95. Also, at least officially, bribes are discouraged.

As you discern saints to nominate, please keep in mind that a number of saints are ineligible for next year’s “saintly smackdown.” This includes the entire field of Lent Madness 2017, those saints who made it to the Round of the Elate Eight in 2016 and 2015, and those from the 2014 Faithful Four. Needless to say Jesus, Mary, Tim, Scott, 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.

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#ImWithLent

Last week, Americans were glued to their televisions each night watching the Republican convention. This week, we all tuned in to watch the Democrats. Here at Lent Madness HQ, we're equal opportunity humorists, because just as America is made up of red states and blue states, so too purple is made up of red and blue.

We shared our insights about Lent after watching the Republicans ("Make Lent Great Again!"), so now it's time to share what we've learned from the Democrats about Lent. While The Donald is about making things great, Hillary's people are always saying, "I'm with her." So let's see how we can all say, "I'm with Lent."

TOP TEN WAYS TO SAY, "I'M WITH LENT!"

purple balloon drop1. Balloon drop. Let's face it, the balloon drop at the end of conventions is a cliché, but it's an awesome cliché. So how about a balloon drop at the end of Lent? That's just what the Easter Vigil needs, some more drama.
2. Star power. Lots of people hate Lent. We don't, but we know people who do. It's understandable, with all the fasting and discipline. So how about a star-studded preaching series? People would love Lent if the sermon was delivered by Episcopalian Sam Waterston or if Morgan Freeman was a lector.
3. Video montage. Why do we spend so much time working on carefully crafted intellectually engaging sermons? In the age of video, we should just go ahead and switch over to heart-warming video montages.
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Make Lent Great Again

Everyone knows that purple is made by combining red and blue. So as far as we're concerned, whether you're in a red state or a blue state, you've got to be filled with Purple Fever. Like everyone else, we've been watching the Republican party's convention this week, and we've learned a few lessons. Don't worry, we'll be watching the Democrats too, and we'll be sharing what we learn from them.

Make Lent Great AgainIf nothing else, The Donald has mad showman skillz that even two publicity hounds like the Supreme Executive Committee can respect. So we watched and learned. Here's how we think we can make Lent great again.

TOP TEN WAYS TO MAKE LENT GREAT AGAIN

1. Fasting?! Forget it. Real Christians feast. All. The. Time.
2. Confession. Let's face it. It's no fun to confess privately. If you're going to describe your sins, get a reality show and do it on the air.
3. Gambling. Forget that Wednesday evening book group. You can do better. You might not be able to set up a Trump Lent Casino at your church, but you can at least do bingo instead of books.
4. Sermons. Tell your priest to stop working so hard on carefully nuanced essays. Sermons need to be filled with an endless succession of bumper-sticker sayings that may or may not tie together. An example. "Jesus went into the wilderness. It was the greatest wilderness. It had angels. They gave him bread. It was Wonder Bread, because that is the most American kind of bread. Jesus was the greatest. Make Lent great again."
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