What is Spy Wednesday?

The entire world quivers in anticipation of tomorrow's Golden Halo battle between Julian of Norwich and either Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Sojourner Truth. As you may know, the Supreme Executive Committee has referred to this final round as taking place on "Spy Wednesday."

spywednesdaypaintingSeveral of you have asked us about this unusual name for the Wednesday in Holy Week. Ever willing to educate and inspire, we are only too happy to oblige.

Spy Wednesday gets its name because this 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)

The illustration above evocatively depicts this infamous scene. If you go to Holy Eucharist every day of Betrayal of JudasHoly 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.

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FREE Bonus: Two More Pocket Lent Cards

Luke cardWe know you love Lent Madness, and we hope you know the Supreme Executive Committee loves you. In fact, the Tim and Scott love you so much that -- even though it's Holy Week and they're quite busy -- they're giving you two extra bonus FREE Pocket Lent cards.

Luke card backNow, you might be asking, "What's a Pocket Lent card?" If that was you asking that question, we know you aren't one of the over 10,000 lucky owners of the 2016 Saintly Scorecard, the essential printed guide to Lent Madness. For those who own the book (now worth a fortune on eBay, since it sold out), you'll know that Pocket Lent cards are saintly trading cards much like baseball cards only better, holier, funnier, and collectable-ier. The Saintly Scorecard came with six cards featuring the likes of George Herbert, Brigid of Kildare, Mary Magdalene, and more.

See below for your two bonus cards. Just print them out on a color printer and you'll be all set. Or use a black & white printer and then go crazy with tiny coloring markers. Laminate your new cards for extra credit. If you stick something fragrant on the cards for a while, you can even pretend your printout is scratch-n-sniff!


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Mug Shot Winner Announced!

Ever since we announced our Mug Shot contest, we have been inundated with photos of Lent Madness fans and their mugs. While we Lent Madness mugsusually put things to a vote around here, the Supreme Executive Committee is pulling rank and simply pronouncing a winner. Supremity does have its privileges after all.

But before we announce the winner -- who will receive the famous cardboard cutout of 2015 Golden Halo winner, Francis of Assisi (as seen on Monday Madness) -- we thought we'd share some of our favorite Mug Shots. These are just a few of the many we received! Check out more by searching for "#LentMadness #MugShot" on Facebook or Twitter. We also received quite a few by email. We really enjoyed seeing how creative the Lent Madness Global Viewing Public can be.

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. You may not have won the grand prize but you are, as we understand it, still a winner in God's sight.


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Lent Madness meets March Madness

BracketApparently there's some other bracket-style tournament that takes place this month. Who knew? And while the Lent Madness Legal Team considers its options, we thought we'd do a quick bracket analysis of the teams in this year's NCAA basketball tournament.

Where are the saints? Have they ever appeared in Lent Madness? Do people get upset when mystical teams take on modern teams? The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness dives into the fray.

Obviously OUR bracket is holier than THEIR bracket. But nonetheless, if you look hard enough, there are some parallels.


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Super Tuesday meets Lent Madness

I Voted Lent MadnessAfter what has felt like an interminable lead-up, it's finally Super Tuesday. People in 13 states across America will be voting in presidential primaries today. To which the Supreme Executive Committee says, "Whatever. The Lent Madness faithful has been voting every day since Ash Thursday."

What you won't find in Lent Madness are any hanging chads (Though Chad of Lichfield has appeared in the Saintly Smackdown). Nonetheless, this is a day to celebrate the democratic process so we are sharing some Lent Madness-style slogans to serve as inspiration for those heading to the polls.

10. Feel the Burn(-ished Golden Halo)

9. It's Morning in America -- which means it's time to vote in Lent Madness

8. Putting Halos Fist

7. I'm with Hilary (of Poitiers)

6. All the Way With MLK

5. Halos We Can Believe In

4. John! (the Baptist)

3. It Takes a Village (to Make a Saint)

2. I Like Mike (the Archangel)

1. Make Heaven Great Again


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Post a Mug Shot, Win a Saint!

Francis at GCHow would you like to own a real, live (well, cardboard) saint? The Supreme Executive Committee is holding a contest to give away 2015 Golden Halo winner Francis of Assisi. Think about it. How awesome would your life be if Saint Francis joined you at the breakfast table every morning? Or appeared in next year's Christmas card? Or participated in the annual Bring Your Saint to Work Day?

This is the same cardboard cutout that graced the Forward Movement booth at the Episcopal Church's General Convention last summer in Salt Lake City. The same cardboard cutout that people formed lines in front of to take selfies with. And you could own him! And take selfies with Francis every single day! With no pesky lines!

How, exactly can you enter this once-in-a-lifetime contest? It's easy, really. And the odds of winning Lent Madness mugsare MUCH better than Powerball. Simply take a picture with your Lent Madness mug and post it to social media. Double hashtag it #LentMadness #MugShot to insure we see it on our Twitter or Facebook page.

If this is too confusing and you have no idea what a hashtag is, please do NOT contact the SEC for tech support. We're busy. It's Lent. And we run the world's most popular online Lenten devotion. So you can either ask the nearest teenager for advice or simply e-mail your photo to press@lentmadness.org.

Don't have a Lent Madness mug? That's an easy fix. There are a variety of them available in the Lentorium. (Note: Though technically not a mug, the SEC has graciously granted dispensation to use a Brigid of Kildare pint glass).

KJS with mugThe deadline to submit entries is March 14. At which point the SEC will make a decision and award Francis to the winner. What is the criteria? Well, the whim of the SEC. But we're looking for the most creative mug shot, however you may define it. And if you can get a mug shot with an actual celebrity, that would be especially impressive.

So go take your mug shot today and who knows? St. Francis of Assisi may just show up in your mail box (some assembly required, live animals sold separately).

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Surviving Lent Madness Withdrawal (LMW)

imagesBy now you've probably gone to the Lent Madness website looking to read about a couple of saints, maybe make a comment or two, and then vote. Or you've wondered why you haven't received the morning e-mail that's become as much a part of your daily routine as drinking that first cup of coffee or putting in your contact lenses. Maybe you've even called tech support to see if something is wrong with your computer or smart phone? "Why can't I vote!" you've screamed, waking up everyone in your household and/or neighborhood.

These next two days mark the first full weekend of Lent Madness, in which fans must survive 48 hours of vote deprivation. Lent Madness Withdrawal (LMW) is a well-known phenomenon, though its cure remains elusive.


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The Ten Commandments of Lent Madness

Lent Madness 2016 is off to a roaring start. We had huge voter turnout on opening day, with a record number of votes cast in the Matronly Meltdown®. As this post is published, the comments section is filling up with a vigorous discussion on the Slavic Smackdown®. If you haven't cast your vote yet for Cyril or Methodius, go vote now! Our aim is to provide some fun, education, and inspiration throughout Lent as we learn about the saints and share in a global community, and that's certainly happening.

We are glad to welcome thousands of new participants to Lent Madness this year. Many of you watched Lent Madness Voting 101, so you know the mechanical basics of how it all works. But there's more. Because the Supreme Executive Committee cares deeply about you, the Lent Madness Global Voting Public, we have provided The Ten Commandments of Lent Madness.

Ten CommandmentsThese commandments will help you keep perspective on the whole thing and maximize your enjoyment. Many churches chant or recite the Decalogue (that's a fancy churchy-word for "Ten Commandments") during Lent, and who are we to stop you from swapping out the script so that the whole congregations gets a refresher on Lent Madness?



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Happy Lent Madness Eve!

Keep Lent VoteNow that the sun has set on the Supreme Executive Committee, Ash Wednesday is morphing into Lent Madness Eve. We had our serious moment of Ash Wednesday piety, and we're ready to sound the fanfare on tomorrow’s opening match-up, unofficially known as the Matronly Meltdown®. Helena and Monnica step into the Lent Dome and begin the 2016 Lent Madness season at precisely 8:00 am Eastern Standard Time. Read about both saints and then vote (once!).

Maybe you're new to Lent Madness, and if so, welcome! Whether you're here for the first time or looking for a refresher on how it all works, we encourage you to have a look at Lent Madness Voting 101, which includes the timeless classic video on voting by the mysterious Maple Anglican.

We urge you to take full part in the Madness. Leave comments here on the website. Read what others have to say. Enjoy the (mostly) friendly rivalry and trash talk on social media. During the day, check in on the website often to see how each day's contest is going. And above all, delight in seeing how each saint was a powerful witness of Jesus Christ.

Now, we know that all over the world, people are marking Lent Madness Eve. Following Lent Madness tradition, some reports say thousands have gathered in Times Square to watch the Halo drop. As usual, others are popping non-alcoholic beverages and refraining from consuming chocolate.

We thought we’d offer a few suggestions for making your Lent Madness Eve both meaningful and safe. Here is a top ten list of activities to engage in as you keep vigil until 8:00 am EST.


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Now is the Time: An Invitation to a Holy Lent

Dear friends in Christ,

Every year, even Lent Madness pauses on this one day. On Ash Wednesday, we set aside our silliness as we are reminded of our mortality and our need of salvation. This year, more than ever, our world needs Lent and its invitation to return to Jesus Christ.

kid with ashesWe live in a world that is gripped by fear and hatred. Too many of our national leaders seem intent on steering to the low road. Time seems to be in short supply as jobs, families, and various electronic gizmos compete for our attention. Now more than ever, we need Lent.

Lent is, above all else, an invitation to turn away from those things which keep us from following Jesus -- and to turn toward those things which draw us closer to our Lord and savior. As St. Paul says, "Now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!"

Now is the time for us to renounce fear, to reject hatred, and to take the more difficult high road. Now is the time to make space in our lives for prayer, study, and worship. Now is the time to look carefully at our lives and to open up our hearts to change. Thanks be to God, the church has given us an entire season to do just these things.


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