Frances Perkins Wins Lent Madness 2013 Golden Halo!

Congratulations to 2013 Golden Halo Winner -- Frances Perkins!


Statement Released by Frances Perkins
(As told to the Supreme Executive Committee)

I must say I feel very much at home even though I just arrived. I feel at home because Lent Madness has, ever since it was established, been a sort of special concern of mine, although by the chicanery of politics it was not placed in the Department of Labor. I, of course, thought it should be.

I remember seeing ladies climbing up on great high stepladders and getting files out of shelves -- dusty, dirty -- many wearing gloves so they wouldn't get their hands dirty while hunting through the files for information about saints. A terrific problem of recordkeeping! You don't do that today.

Before I was elected, I had a little conversation with the SEC in which I said perhaps they didn't want me to be the Golden Halo winner, because if I were, I should want to do this, and this, and this. Among the things I wanted to do was find a way of getting health insurance for the living and voter fraud insurance for the dead. I remember they looked so startled, and they said, "Well, do you think it can be done?" I said, "I don't know." They said, "Well, there are theological problems, aren't there?" "Yes, very severe theological problems," I said. "But what have we been elected for except to solve the theological problems? Lots of other problems have been solved by the people of Lent Madness, and there is no reason why this one shouldn't be solved."

Seems pretty similar to a famous speech she gave discussing the roots of Social Security. But then, when you've won the Golden Halo, who's to question you?

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Music for your ears

Purple PhoneBecause the Supreme Executive Committee cares about you, the Lent Madness public, we are offering you a gift. Specifically, we are giving the gift of Lent Madness music to those of you with iPhones and Android phones. Now you and everyone around you can think of Lent Madness whenever you receive various robocalls and misdials.

For iPhone users, here are the ringtones for the two bits of Lent Madness music -- one and two. To get these ringtones, download the files to your computer. To download them, you'll probably need to right-click the links and then click "Save as..." Open iTunes. Drag the files onto your music library in iTunes. Sync your phone. Presto, you now have a couple of new ringtones.

For Android users, here are the two ringtones -- one and two. Since the SEC uses iPhones exclusively, we have no idea how to install these, but we think these files are in the correct format. Maybe someone can tell us how it works and post in the comments.

We think these will work on your phone. If not, then remember you get what you pay for. You're welcome. Having problems? Ask a teenager at your church for help.

Lastly, if you didn't get a chance to view the music video for these ring tones, watch it right now. Kudos to Maestro Shiloh Roby from Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati, OH.

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Surviving Lent Madness Withdrawal

LMWThis weekend marks 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. Maple Anglican has provided a handy video guide to surviving LMW, and we encourage you to check it out. Oh, and if you don't like the way he spelled a few words, remember that he is Canadian. Language is used differently up there, eh?

Last year, the SEC issued guidance on long-term LMW, and some of these techniques may help you this weekend. We are also forming support groups on Facebook and Twitter. You might like to look at glittering objects on Pinterest too. Together, we'll get through it.

Remember, there is hope: Monday morning brings the epic battle we've all been waiting for. Martin Luther vs. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Invitation to a Holy Lent

ashwednesdayDear Friends,

Blessings to you all on this Ash Wednesday. While we like to have a lot of fun here at Lent Madness and occasionally engage in a bit of holy hyperbole, we're always mindful of why we host Lent Madness. Learning about and being inspired by saintly lives is food for our respective journeys of life and faith. The season of Lent has a wonderful way of stripping everything down to its essentials and bringing us back to the basics of our faith.

We can learn much from those who have come before us as faithful witnesses to the Gospel. And they always seem to come back to this: "Love God, love neighbor." Each one of these holy men and women did just that in their own time and in their own circumstances and they can inspire us to do the same in our own day. Like us, the saints weren't perfect -- but it's freeing to remember that perfection isn't the goal but faithfulness. Lent Madness helps make real these heroes of the faith by reminding us that they were living, breathing human beings not lifeless statues or distant figures immortalized yet immobilized in stained glass.

So as we stand at the cusp of another season of "madness" (it all begins tomorrow at 8:00 am EST), it's important to take a step back to remember why we engage in this unique online devotion. Yes, Lent is a time for self-examination and repentance but the essence of Lent Madness is to remind us that Lent is also a time of joy. After all, what could be more joyful than a time specifically set aside to grow our individual and collective relationships with Jesus Christ?

Know that you are all in our prayers on this Ash Wednesday and we encourage you to attend today's liturgy as an entrance into the season. Fortunately, the church has many "branch locations" spread throughout the world -- check your local listings. Then reflect on these words from the Book of Common Prayer:

Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided  a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy  Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith. I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word. And, to make a right beginning  of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.

In Christ,

Tim and Scott
(AKA the Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness)

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Burying the Alleluia and the Hatchet

Bury the HatchetAs many Lent Madness fans will know, the whole thing is run by the modestly named Supreme Executive Committee. Composed of Tim and Scott, the SEC works tirelessly throughout the year to bring you Lent Madness. But there are sometimes grave challenges between these two, as they have mutually declared the other to be an archnemesis. This archrivalry began on their two blogs, Seven whole days and Clergy Family Confidential.

Anyway, because of their love of Lent Madness and you the global public, the SEC has agreed to set aside their differences for the Lenten season. Look for a (temporary) spirit of amity and cooperation.

Bury the AlleluiaToday both Tim and Scott have posted a notice on their respective blogs. Please go visit their blogs and leave comments of encouragement or derision. You are also welcome to take sides, if you so choose. But come Lent, let us all unite behind the banner of purple in the glow of the Golden Halo.

This rapprochement means Lent Madness can go on without melodrama inside the SEC. It also gives each of them about 47 days to scheme for advantage when the détente ends at the Great Vigil of Easter. For now, as we bury the alleluia on Shrove Tuesday, the SEC is burying the hatchet of enmity.

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Purple Fever Spreads Abroad!

Yesterday, we shared some Lent Madness buzz that we noticed on the interwebs. Today we thought we'd share the excitement that's building for Lent Madness in the form of Purple Fever. Make sure you tell all your friends to tune in on Ash Thursday (February 14) to vote in Lent Madness 2013!

Top Ten Signs of Purple Fever

10. People are eating purple food.
Purple Food

9. Large crowds are forming. We don't know if the guy in front is "blowing up the trumpet in Zion" per the Ash Wednesday readings, or trying to get the crowd to sing the Lent Madness theme music.
Purple Crowd

8. New York City is taking Purple Fever to the sky.
Empire State Purple

7. At least one member of the Supreme Executive Committee regularly uses a purple bridge.
Purple People Bridge

6. People have started wearing purple hats to show their enthusiasm for Lent Madness. Others actually wear purple shirts.
Purple hats


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One week until Ash Thursday

One More WeekThroughout the world, people are wondering how they will manage to wait until Ash Thursday. Just one week from today, Lent Madness 2013 kicks off on February 14, 2013. In an effort to serve our global audience, the Supreme Executive Committee hereby shares the Top 10 Ways to Pass the Longest Week of the Year.

10. Get your bracket for Lent Madness 2013. Print it out. Start picking your saints.
9. You'll need to do some research to succeed at number 10. Besides Wikipedia, there are some great resources listed on this site. Naturally, we especially recommend The Calendar of Saints: Lent Madness 2013 Ultra-Revised Edition.
8. Go on a worldwide Lent Madness pilgrimage. Build an itinerary with St. Louis, St. Bart's, San Francisco and other saint cities and/or islands.
7. Sip coffee from your official Lent Madness 2013 coffee mug. Just please do not put lousy coffee in it. Life is too short, and the mug is too great.
6. Plan to take part in Brackets to Go this year on Shrove Tuesday. It's important to take the brackets to the people, rather than expecting people to come to the brackets. Print out some brackets and hand them out at train stations or street corners.
5. Watch the entire corpus of Monday Madness episodes again. If possible, get the director's cut on Blu-Ray. Make sure you learn our new theme music so you can hum it constantly.
4. As you know, the SEC does not condone gambling. However, we do encourage fund-raising for charity. Start up a betting pool, and give the proceeds to a great cause such as Episcopal Relief & Development.
3. Plan to hijack the pulpit at your church on Sunday. Get everyone rallied up. Suggest various places where brackets could be placed (the front of the altar, on the back of the celebrant's chasuble, or projected onto giant screens).
2. Connect with other Lent Madness fans by liking our page on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or getting Pinterested in our other social media.
1. Tell your friends about the good news of Lent Madness. Why keep the joy to yourself?

Before you know it, it will be time to cast the first votes in Lent Madness 2013. Who will win the Golden Halo? No one knows, but it will be a grand competition. Expect laughter, learning, inspiration, and no small amount of snark.

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Play-In: John Donne vs. T.S. Eliot

Welcome to the fourth and final Play-In match of Lent Madness 2013. In the previous Play-Ins, Gregory the Great defeated Gregory of Nyssa; Thomas Tallis beat John Merbecke; and Samuel Seabury sent George Berkeley to the showers.

Today we have the Great Poetry Slam between John Donne and T.S. Eliot with the winner heading to the official bracket to face Agnes of Rome in the First Round. The loser will, presumably, sit in solitude and write self-loathing verses of poetry.

With the conclusion of today's match-up, the 32-saint 2013 Lent Madness bracket will be complete. On Monday morning, we'll return to Celebrity Blogger Week (which is rapidly turning into Celebrity Blogger Week-and-a-Half).

Don't forget Lent Madness 2013 officially kicks off on "Ash Thursday," February 14th, with a First Round match-up between Jonathan Daniels and Macrina the Younger. If you're looking to organize Lent Madness at your parish, click here for tips on how to do so. If you'd like to know when your favorite saint is set to do battle make sure to check out the Calendar of Match-Ups. And, finally, don't forget to "like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See you in Lent!

donne 3John Donne

10. Was the first Anglican hipster. He attended both Oxford and Cambridge and the Lincoln Inn (where lawyers trained in Elizabethan England), and managed not to get any academic degrees. He traveled to Europe, especially Spain, and partied and wrote poetry.  He womanized, danced with ladies in courts all over Europe, lived off the wealth of patrons, and wrote poetry. He became spiritual but not religious...and wrote poetry. His poetry was ground-breaking to literature of the day with its twisted and distorted images and ideas that connected seemingly unrelated things together like a flea and sex. Without Donne, T.S. Eliot would have had no foundation to begin writing his poetry.

9. He eventually fell backwards into a real job by landing a gig as the private secretary to one of the highest officials in the queen’s court. His intelligence and charm opened doors, and he even scored a seat in Elizabeth’s last Parliament. Then he ruined it all for love. Yes, ladies, swoon-like-a-Jane-Austen-novel love. He secretly married Ann More, and her father and John’s employer totally opposed the match (I mean, Donne wasn’t exactly Mr. Elizabethan England Bachelor of the Year). Yet they married. Donne got sacked and landed in prison...along with the priest who married them (for LOVE - remember this!). He was eventually released from prison, and he and Ann had twelve children and were by all accounts happily married until her death.

8. He wrote - let’s just say it - sleazy, erotic, classy poetry that we read in English classed to this day. His poems covered topics like trying to have sex with every girl in sight to exploring his lover’s body as an explorer discovers part of America. And don’t forget The Flea, where he tries to convince his girlfriend to have sex with him. He rarely had these poems published, but allowed them to be widely circulated among his friends and patrons of his poetry. And, we assume, some of his lady friends.

7. And he wrote poems that spoke to the complexities of human nature and faith...that we read in English classes and hear in church sermons to this day. He gave English language the phrase, “No man is an island,”  Hemingway is eternally grateful for Donne’s, “For whom the bell tolls” line, and “Death be not proud,” with its in-your-face elegance, gives fullness to the lines of the Burial Rite: "And even at the grave, we make our song. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!"

6. He was a satirist, which means he was really snarky, but had huge audiences. In his satirical essays, he called out corrupt government and church practices, absurdities in certain faith beliefs (he was one of the early people to argue suicide was not a mortal sin), bad poets, and pompous courtiers. He blasted those who blindly followed established religious tradition without carefully examining one’s beliefs and questioning. He writes (translated into modern English), “You won’t be saved on the Day of Judgement by saying Harry or Martin told  you to believe this. God wants to know what YOU thought and believed.”

5. King James wanted him to become a priest so badly that he declared to all of England that Donne could not be hired except in the church. Seriously. So he was ordained in 1615 and soon became known as a great preacher in an age of great preachers, in an era of the Anglican church when preaching was a form of spiritual devotion, an intellectual exercise, and dramatic entertainment. I bet no one looked at his iPhone to check the time when Donne was throwing down the Gospel at St. Paul’s Cross.

4. He was eventually named Dean of St. Paul’s, the big time of the big time. He preached his own funeral sermon right before he died. Funeral. Preaching. Owned.

3. Just in case anyone had any ideas about how he should be remembered, he arranged a final portrait of himself not in pompous glory, but in his burial shroud.  Yes, a bit creepy, but he walked the walk and saw the beauty in death. Because guess what? Donne believed with every bit of his soul that the Resurrection wasn’t just a story, but it was Truth. His statue survived the 1666 fire at St. Paul’s and still watches over the place. Just in case any subsequent Deans think they are all that.

2. He wrote this:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’s thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

1. And this

The Flea

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
Me it sucked first, and now sucks thee,
And in this fela our two bloods mingled be;
Thou know’st that this cannot be said
A sin, or shame, or loss of maidenhead,
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pampered swells with one blood made of two,
And this, alas, is more than we would do.

Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, nay more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, we are met,
And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me
Let not to that, self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which is sucked from thee?
Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou
Find’st not thy self nor me the weaker now;
‘Tis true; then learn how false fears be:
Just so much honor, when thou yield’st to me,
Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.

John Donne was the first Rev. Dirty Sexy Ministry, and Dean of St. Paul’s. And he lived it loud and proud.

-- Laurie Brock

144px-T_S_Eliot_Simon_FieldhouseT. S. Eliot

10. T.S. Eliot (9/26/1888 - 1/4/1965) was a poet, playwright, literary critic, and editor. Like many of his generation, he was profoundly affected by World War I but he also became a convert to Anglicanism, to the surprise of literary friends and colleagues, resulting in his writing poetry and plays featuring distinctly Christian ideas set alongside themes of desolation and disconnection. He sought to explore traditional Christian themes while using modern forms and rhythms, speaking to and for a generation that had seen devastation like no other before it. The traditional meets the modern in Eliot’s works in which he models the maxim that the church must reinterpret scripture and doctrine for every generation.

9.  Among his poems are "The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock," "The Waste Land," "The Hollow Men," "Ash Wednesday," "Four Quartets," and "The Journey of the Magi;" most famous among his plays is "Murder in the Cathedral" (the story of the martyrdom of Thomas a Becket at Canterbury written entirely in verse).

8.  He won the Nobel Price in Literature in 1948 for his “outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry.” Prior to Eliot’s acceptance speech at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm, Gustaf Hellstrom of the Swedish Academy said of him, “As a poet you have, Mr. Eliot, for decades, exercised a greater influence on your contemporaries and younger fellow writers than perhaps anyone else of our time.”

7.  Eliot’s collection of poems about the psychology and social habits of kitties - Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats -  was the basis for the long running Broadway musical Cats by Andrew Lloyd Webber featuring Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, Mr. Mistoffelees, Old Deuteronomy, and (Aspara)Gus the Theater Cat, et al. Sadly, the SEC says there are no cat videos at Lent Madness, or I’d link to one.

6. For all you coffee lovers out there, he included this famous line in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons....” No doubt into his Lent Madness coffee mug, had he owned one.

5. More seriously, Eliot is considered a “supreme interpreter of mediated experience.” He himself said, “A poet must take as his material his own language as it is actually spoken around him.” A fine example comes from The Wasteland (Part I. Burial of the Dead): “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

4. And who among us does not love the ending of the The Journey of the Magi:

“We returned to our places, these
But no longer at ease here, in the old
With an alien people clutching their
I should be glad of another death.”

3.  Eliot considered The Four Quartets to be his best work, and each of the quartets to be better than the one before. Ponder these lines from Four Quartets 4: Little Gidding 

“We only live, only suspire
     Consumed by either fire or fire.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

2.  Read again Eliot’s brilliant, sexy, and oft-quoted ending from The Hollow Men:

“Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

1.  And finally, heed Eliot’s words from his play Murder in the Cathedral that explain why Sir Anthony Strallan should not marry Lady Edith - I mean, that explain why you should vote for Eliot to join the 2013 Lent Madness bracket of saints:

“Now is my way clear, now is the meaning plain:
Temptation shall not come in this kind again.
The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”


[poll id="42"]


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The Lent Madness Emporium. Or Lentorium.

Lent Madness isn't just about saints, discipleship, voting, formation, and chuckles. Like the rest of our culture, it's about commerce. So here's your chance to stock up on Lent Madness goodies.

Calendar of Saints: Lent Madness 2013 Ultra-Revised Edition coverFirst of all, you can't tell the players without a program. Get thee to the Kindle or Nook stores and buy a copy of Calendar of Saints: Lent Madness 2013 Ultra-Revised Edition. This venerable title began life as book of devotional essays on the saints by Canon David Veal. Last year, we revised and updated it to include all the official saints of the Episcopal Church calendar (none of the trial use clutter) PLUS all the saints in Lent Madness. This year, it has been Ultra Revised to include all the saints in Lent Madness 2013. Besides author David Veal and editor Scott Gunn, this year's contributors include several celebrity bloggers and Lent Madness luminaries: Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, Penny Nash, Tim Schenck, Heidi Shott, and David Sibley. Janet Buening on the Forward Movement staff added an essay and pulled the whole thing together. So, anyway, there's lots of great stuff here -- it's a devotionally oriented look at the saints.

For this year, we slashed the price to just $4.99. You can buy it on Kindle or Nook. If you want a paper copy, just place your Kindle on a photocopier and make your own. We promise not to sue you for copyright infringement if you do this, as long as you use a photo of yourself at the copier as your Facebook profile pic and tag "Lent Madness."

MaryMug1Second of all, since you are probably a bit sleepy after thinking about books, you are going to want a shiny new coffee mug. If you insist, it can hold other beverages too, up to eleven ounces. This year's mug features the Lent Madness 2013 logo, as well as the reigning Golden Halo title holder, Mary Magdalene, with a word to this year's bracket of saints: "Good luck filling my shoes!" Buy your mug for the low bargain price of $10 from Forward Movement. Get another one (or ten more) and the price plunges to nine bucks.
Bracket Poster 2013

Third of all, and finally, you are going to want to track the results of Lent Madness in real time on your living room wall, right? For this you'll need a giant, poster-sized bracket. We have just the thing. New this year, you can buy yourself a 36" by 24" full-color bracket to record the winners of each match. Brackets are just ten bucks, or two for $18. Buy one for your parish hall bulletin board, another for home, and perhaps a third for work. It would not be completely out of line to get one for the car and several for your neighbors.

Keep an eye on the Store page. If we think up more stuff, we'll put it there. Got an idea for something you want to own? Let the Supreme Executive Committee know your ideas.

Buying all this stuff supports the work of Forward Movement, and here's a promise: If we sell at least $10 million of merchandise this year, we'll seriously consider getting a purple Lent Madness blimp for next year. Whoever buys the most stuff (minimum purchase, $1 million) can have a free ride on the official blimp with the SEC. Hey, it could happen. Or not.

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Free Lent Madness Article!

freeDo you edit a parish or diocesan newsletter? Do you have a Lenten issue coming out? Are you desperate for material? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then this post is for you. You see, here at Lent Madness we take seriously our commitment to make your life easier. We know you're busy during these waning days before Lent trying to decide whether to give up chocolate or wine or coffee (not a chance!).

So below, you'll find an informational article about Lent Madness that you're welcome to use verbatim or adapt for your own use. And if you aren't the William (or even Patty) Hearst of your parish? Feel free to send it along to friends -- it's a pretty basic explanation of what Lent Madness is all about.

If you need the Lent Madness logo to run with this, either go to Google images or contact us for a high resolution version. Or you could always use the "FREE" button you see to your left -- everybody likes free stuff!

Lent Madness 2013
The Saintly Smack Down

What do you get when you combine a love of sports with holy saints? Lent Madness, of course. Based loosely on the wildly popular NCAA basketball tournament, Lent Madness pits 32 saints against one another in a single-elimination bracket as they compete for the coveted Golden Halo. But it is more than that: Lent Madness is really an online devotional tool designed to help people learn about saints.

Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of the Rev. Tim Schenck, an Episcopal priest and rector of St. John’s Church in Hingham, Massachusetts. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women comprising the church’s calendar of saints, Schenck came up with this unique Lenten devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born on his blog “Clergy Family Confidential.”

Starting last year, Schenck partnered with the Rev. Scott Gun, Executive Director of Forward Movement (the same folks that publish Forward Day by Day) and Lent Madness went viral, reaching over 50,000 people and getting mentioned in everything from the Washington Post to Sports Illustrated (seriously).

Here’s how it works: on the weekdays of Lent information is posted about two different saints on and then participants vote to determine who goes on to the next round. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time – usually 24 hours – and people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the Golden Halo. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch. It’s fun, it’s informative, it’s the saintly smack down!

To win in 2013, will take grit, determination, holiness, and perhaps some good old-fashioned luck. This year Lent Madness features a slate of saints ancient and modern, Biblical and ecclesiastical including John the Baptist, Martin Luther King, Hilda of Whitby, Luke, Dorothy Day, Benedict of Nursia, Martin Luther, and Harriet Tubman as they vie to fill the shoes of 2012 winner Mary Magdalene.

This all kicks off on “Ash Thursday,” February 14, and will continue throughout the 40-day season of Lent. To participate, log onto, where you can also print out a bracket and fill it out to see how you fare or “compete” against friends and family members. Like that other March tournament, there will be drama and intrigue, upsets and thrashings, last-minute victories and Cinderellas.

If you’re looking for a Lenten discipline that is fun, educational, occasionally goofy, and always joyful, join the Lent Madness journey. Lent needn’t be all doom and gloom. After all, what could be more joyful than a season specifically set aside to grow closer to God?

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