Benedict of Nursia vs. Dorothy Day

Welcome, friends, to the last full week of Lent Madness. Today we get the final match-up of the Round of the Saintly Sixteen. Then Tuesday through Friday we'll experience the four battles of the Elate Eight as we encounter the controversial mirth of saintly kitsch. More about that tomorrow.

But first it's Benedict of Nursia tangling with Dorothy Day for a shot at Luke the Evangelist. Dorothy made it here by knocking off Edward Thomas Demby while Benedict routed Anne, Jesus' grandma.

We hope everyone made it through another weekend of Lent Madness Withdrawal without having to enter online rehab. The SEC has counselors standing by if you need additional help. We did our part by offering you FREE Lent Madness ringtones for you smart phones. And we also offered some timely advice to Pope Francis from one Supreme (Executive Committee) to another Supreme (Pontiff). It was the least we could do. Really.

Finally, the mysterious Maple Anglican kicks off his daily videos today which will run throughout the duration of Lent Madness. At which point perhaps he will get a real job.

7_11_stbenedictBenedict of Nursia

Benedict of Nursia (c.480-c.550) is the subject of numerous legends in the second book of Gregory the Great’s Dialogues. One is about a youthful Benedict whose housekeeper borrowed a sieve that was then accidentally broken into two pieces. The housekeeper began to weep, so Benedict began to pray. When he finished, the sieve was found to be whole. After word of this miracle spread throughout the town, the sieve was hung on the door of the local church. Benedict was treated like a Lent Madness Celebrity Blogger. But he renounced such fame, fleeing both the town and his housekeeper. OK…that was totally weird. Let’s move on to quotes from his famous Rule for monastic life.

From Chapter 53 (“On the Reception of Guests”):

“Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ…

“In the salutation of all guests, whether arriving or departing, let all humility be shown. Let the head be bowed or the whole body prostrated on the ground in adoration of Christ, who indeed is received in their persons.

“After the guests have been received and taken to prayer, let the Superior or someone appointed by him sit with them. Let the divine law be read before the guest for his edification, and then let all kindness be shown him. The Superior shall break his fast for the sake of a guest, unless it happens to be a principal fast day which may not be violated. The brethren, however, shall observe the customary fasts. Let the Abbot give the guests water for their hands; and let both Abbot and community wash the feet of all guests.…

“In the reception of the poor and of pilgrims the greatest care and solicitude should be shown, because it is especially in them that Christ is received…”

From Chapter 49 (“On the Observance of Lent”):

“Although the life of a monk ought to have about it at all times the character of a Lenten observance, yet since few have the virtue for that, we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent the brethren keep their lives most pure and at the same time wash away during these holy days all the negligences of other times.…

“During these days, therefore, let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service, as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink. Thus everyone of his own will may offer God ‘with joy of the Holy Spirit’ (1 Thess. 1:6) something above the measure required of him. From his body, that is he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting; and with the joy of spiritual desire he may look forward to holy Easter.”

And isn't that precisely what Lent Madness helps us all do? "Look forward to holy Easter with the joy of spiritual desire."

 -- Neil Alan Willard

dorothyday-middleagedDorothy Day

From the time of her conversion to Christian faith in the mid-1920s, Dorothy Day, an American laywoman who co-founded the Catholic Worker movement, served as an exemplar to all who would seek to live lives of faithfulness to God by serving those in need.

Prior to her conversion, Day was a wild bohemian girl who wrote for socialist publications and hob-nobbed with prominent radicals in Greenwich Village. However, as Day wrote in her autobiography,”The Long Loneliness,” the experience of the birth of her daughter Tamar magnified her love and devotion to God. “It was all very well to love God in His works, in the beauty of His creation, which was crowned for me by the birth of my child... The final object of this love and gratitude was God. No human creature could receive or contain so vast a floor of love and joy as I often felt after the birth of my child. With this came the need to worship, to adore.”

Before long Day translated that worship and adoration into the nitty-gritty of serving the needs of people living in poverty and protesting the injustices of society. The movement’s houses of hospitality and farm communes are based on her belief that such work is best done in community. She wrote, Men are beginning to realize that they are not individuals but persons in society, that man alone is weak and adrift, that he must seek strength in common action.

In her famous Union Square speech of November 1965, she said,

"I speak as one who is old, and whose whole lifetime has seen the cruelty and hysteria of war in this last half century. But who has also seen, praise God, the emerging nations of Africa and Asia, and Latin America, achieving in many instances their own freedom through non-violent struggles, side by side with violence. Our own country has through tens of thousand of the Negroe [sic] people, shown an example to the world of what a non-violent struggle can achieve. This very struggle, begun by students, by the young, by the seemingly helpless, have led the way in vision, in courage, even in a martyrdom, which has been shared by the little children, in the struggle for full freedom and for human dignity which means the right to health, education, and work which is a full development of man’s God-given talents."

In 1976 Day asked Robert Ellsburg, a 20-year-old student on leave from Harvard who had come to New York to work with her, to be the managing editor of The Catholic Worker. At 77 she was in “retirement” and left the day-to-day operation of things to “the young people.” Ellsburg wrote, “My promotion had very little to do with any qualification for the job and everything to do with the fact that no one else was particularly interested. Dorothy had faith in people, and she was able to make them feel her faith as well, so they forgot their feelings of inadequacy and found themselves doing all kinds of things they never dreamed possible.”

At 19, while writing a garden-variety undergraduate paper on Day for a class on Christian political communities, I discovered this quote by Day that continues to transform the way I looked at prayer. She wrote that “prayer is outside of time.” As the only non-seminary trained Celebrity Blogger, I have no real interest in whether that notion has any theological chops. Frankly, I don’t care. What matters is me is that the idea that prayer is not constrained by the limitations of the “now” is a highly liberating concept that enlarges my view of God.

Historian Walter G. Moss, in his 2011 monograph, “The Wisdom of Dorothy Day,” concludes,

“More than three decades after her death, her legacy remains impressive. By 2011, according to the Catholic Worker website, ‘213 Catholic Worker communities remain committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken. Catholic Workers continue to protest injustice, war, racism, and violence of all forms.’ Her work and legacy continue to serve as a gentle reminder, to politicians and intellectuals among others, that what matters most is not what we say or how we label ourselves, but what we do. As psychologist Robert Sternberg wrote, ‘People are wise to the extent that they use their intelligence to seek a common good.’ By that measure Dorothy Day was wise indeed.”

However, Day herself said, “Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed so easily.”

-- Heidi Shott


Benedict of Nursia vs. Dorothy Day

  • Dorothy Day (59%, 2,213 Votes)
  • Benedict of Nursia (41%, 1,517 Votes)

Total Voters: 3,727

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Martha of Bethany vs. Harriet Tubman

A day after Florence Li Tim-Oi left Gregory the Great chanting to himself in despair, we have a clash of two women, one Biblical and one modern. Martha of Bethany and Harriet Tubman are duking it out for a chance at Hilda of Whitby (and NO this is not a conspiracy to have these worthy women knock one another out of the bracket). To get to this point, Martha stomped on the "Little Flower," Therese of Lisieux while Harriet made quick work of Nicholas Ferrar.

This is the penultimate match-up of the Round of the Saintly Sixteen (we really do love that word) with the last battle taking place between Benedict of Nursia and Dorothy Day on Monday. Then we're on to the Elate Eight, aka the round of Saintly Kitsch. What will your Celebrity Bloggers dredge up? What distasteful and tacky saint-ware will see the light of day? Will the easily offended shun Lent Madness entirely? These are the questions that await us starting on Tuesday.

In the meantime we all face another weekend without Lent Madness and the inherent hollowness of despair.

martha and dragonMartha of Bethany

Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus, testified to Jesus, saying “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” Despite all you may have heard about Martha, nowhere in the Bible does it actually say she does any cooking or cleaning. “Tasks,” yes. “Work,” sure. And though one might infer that these are domestic chores, that is an inference only, not to be found in Scripture.

This didn’t stop Irma Rombauer from putting Martha on the cover of the 1931 edition of The Joy of Cooking, “slaying the dragon of kitchen drudgery.”

The dragon part of the image actually has stronger literary connections to Martha than cooking does. According to the Golden Legend, after the Resurrection, Martha, Mary, Lazarus, and several others were persecuted and set adrift in the Mediterranean in a boat with no oars or sails which somehow ended up in Marseilles. Martha made her way to a region between Arles and Avignon that was besieged by “a great dragon, half beast and half fish, greater than an ox, longer than an horse, having teeth sharp as a sword, and horned on either side, head like a lion, tail like a serpent, and defended him with two wings on either side.” She stunned him with holy water (query: where did she get it?) and two sticks made into a cross. She dragged the bad boy back to town (either using her own hair or her belt) where he was killed. The dragon’s name was Tarasque, and the town Tarascon-Sur-Rhone was named for him. There’s an annual Fetes de la Tarasque the last week in June when the dragon is lured from his lair “accompanied by chevaliers” (query: what did they do to deserve to be there?).

Despite this feat of derring-do, Martha has a hard time shaking her domestic image. In Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, “older infertile women whose compliant nature and domestic skills recommend them to a life of domestic servitude” are known simply as Marthas. Martha Stewart didn’t do her any favors either.

St. Augustine, however, notes that Martha’s work is important for Christians to emulate and that Jesus “did not say that Martha was acting a bad part.” Instead, this “necessary business” would someday be unnecessary, and “that part which is occupied in the ministering to a need shall be ‘taken away’ when the need itself has passed away.”

The Golden Legend conveys this understanding as Christ appears to Martha on her deathbed, saying, “Come, my well-beloved hostess, for where I am thou shalt be with me. Thou hast received me in thine harbour and I shall receive thee in mine heaven.”

 -- Laura Toepfer

harriettumbansittingHarriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman devoted her life to fighting for freedom -- whether leading slaves to Canada on the Underground Railroad, becoming a nurse, spy, and soldier in the Union Army, or fighting for the rights of women.

She described escaping into freedom in this way: "I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came up like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in heaven."

Harriet was rock-solid in her faith -- a necessity in the life she led. She would pray, "Oh Lord! You've been with me in six troubles. Don't desert me in the seventh."

Once, while in charge of several escaping slaves, Harriet led them to the next house in the journey, only to discover upon knocking that the previous owner had gone, and a stranger now lived there. Afraid that the new owner had sounded the alarm, she led the band of escapees to a nearby swamp, where they waited, and Harriet prayed, for over a day. At nightfall, Harriet saw a Quaker man pacing by their hiding place, muttering to himself, "My wagon stands ready in the next barn across the way, the horse is in the stable and the harness is on the nail." Harriet snuck out of their hiding place to discover everything just as the Quaker had said -- a fully stocked wagon with food, and a ready horse. They made it to the next stop, and freedom, in safety.

Harriet also had a gift for faith-based fundraising for her conductor work on the Railroad. One morning, she approached a well-known abolitionist in New York, and informed him that God had told her that he "had twenty dollars to give her to free the slaves." The gentleman was not convinced. Undeterred, Harriet staged a one-woman sit-in in his office. She sat down, and calmly, politely continued to sit throughout the day, as the man continued to do his business.  People came and went, wondering who this determined black lady sitting in the corner could be, but by the time it was over, the gentleman had given sixty dollars to Harriet.

Of her work on the Railroad, Harriet said later, "I was a Conductor on the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most other conductors can't say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger."

She explained her motivation thusly: "I had crossed that line of which I had been so long dreaming. I was free, but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.

-- Megan Castellan


Martha of Bethany vs. Harriet Tubman

  • Harriet Tubman (64%, 2,134 Votes)
  • Martha of Bethany (36%, 1,183 Votes)

Total Voters: 3,316

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Gregory the Great vs. Florence Li-Tim Oi

A day after the election of a new pope, the only pope in the bracket, Gregory the Great, digs in his (red, Prada-covered) heels against Florence Li-Tim Oi, the first female priest in the Anglican Communion. To make it to the Saintly Sixteen, Gregory defeated Martin of Tours and Florence bested, nay demolished, Chad of Lichfield in our most lopsided match to date. Today's winner earns a date with Oscar Romero in the next round.

Yesterday in heart-thumping fashion, Frances Perkins upset Martin Luther King, Jr. Yes, you read that correctly. The first female cabinet member will now face Jonathan Daniels in the Elate Eight and we're reminded, once again, why this is called Lent Madness.

While the heated battle was going on, Tim spoke about the world's most popular online Lenten devotion, on Boston Public Radio. You can listen to the live interview (well, live at the time) by clicking here (skip to 1:35:15).

And thanks to everyone who liked us on Facebook this week, propelling us over our goal of 5,000. We're not sure what the next goal will be. Perhaps 1,500 followers on Twitter? (we're currently at 1,250). Certainly, we can do better than Scott's 2,231 Twitter followers/disciples...

gregorywithdoveGregory the Great

A liturgical reformer and staunch advocate for the poor, Gregory the Great, pope from 590 until his death in 604, skillfully navigated the complex era poised between the ancient and the medieval world. Drawn from his love for the quiet, monastic life to be pope, he served the church and the people of Rome faithfully.

In modern times, Gregory is well-known as the man who done Mary Magdalene wrong. In a sermon from 591 his facile conflation of several women cited in the Gospels into the person of Mary Magdalene is now judged a breathtaking oversimplification. His point -- to prove that even a person deeply mired in sin could be redeemed by the work of Christ -- is mostly lost within the controversy. He said, “In paradise, a woman was the cause of death for a man; coming from the sepulcher, a woman proclaimed life to men."

Now, despite 1,400 years of being maligned, Mary Magdalene seems to have had the last laugh. She has universal recognition while we don’t even know poor Gregory’s last name. And, some might remember, she fared pretty well in Lent Madness 2012.

But this isn’t something about Mary.

It’s about Gregory the Great, who once said, "Whatsoever one would understand what he hears must hasten to put into practice what he has heard." And, even more apropos to our purposes here, "The universe is not rich enough to buy the vote of an honest man."

When not busy liturgically innovating or fiddling with plainchant, he had some lovely things to say about love. In a letter to Virgillius, Bishop of Arles, he wrote:

O how good is charity, which through an image in the mind exhibits what is absent as present to ourselves, through love unites what is divided, settles what is confused, associates things that are unequal, completes things that are imperfect! Rightly does the excellent preacher call it the bond of perfectness; since, though the other virtues indeed produce perfectness, yet still charity binds them together so that they can no longer be loosened from the heart of one who loves.

And this: “The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.

But what about the dove?

The Catholic Encyclopedia attributes a story to Gregory’s friend, Peter the Deacon:

[W]hen the pope was dictating his homilies on Ezechiel a veil was drawn between his secretary and himself. As, however, the pope remained silent for long periods at a time, the servant made a hole in the curtain and, looking through, beheld a dove seated upon Gregory's head with its beak between his lips. When the dove withdrew its beak the holy pontiff spoke and the secretary took down his words; but when he became silent the servant again applied his eye to the hole and saw the dove had replaced its beak between his lips.

In a preface to Gregory’s influential “The Book of Pastoral Rule,” Philip Schaff, offers insight to his gifts and foibles,

Remarkable indeed is his own discriminating insight, displayed throughout, into human characters and motives, and his perception of the temptations to which circumstances or temperament render various people—pastors as well as members of their flocks—peculiarly liable. No less striking, in this as in other works of his, is his intimate acquaintance with the whole of Holy Scripture. He knew it indeed through the Latin version only; his critical knowledge is frequently at fault; and far-fetched mystical interpretations, such as he delighted in, abound. But as a true expounder of its general moral and religious teaching he well deserves his name as one of the great Doctors of the Church.

-- Heidi Shott

Florence Rd 2Florence Li-Tim Oi

Florence Li Tim-Oi, first female priest in the Anglican Communion, pursued a theological degree in Guangzhou during the Sino-Japanese War. In between exams, she also headed up the rescue squad, searching for survivors each time her town was bombed. Her memoir details the horrors she viewed: the girl crushed beneath rubble, the woman with bound feet who couldn’t flee, the man blown apart. This turned Florence into a permanent lover of peace.

Later in the war, while she was serving her parish in Macau, she received word that her father was ill and destitute in Hong Kong. So she disguised herself as a maid, borrowed some money, procured a boat, and braved the Japanese blockade to rescue him. Along the way, they ran into pirates. Florence described what happened:

The fisherman ordered all of us to throw the fishnet overboard and pretend we were trying to pull the net in. All the passengers co-operated. Knowing that I was a missionary, they jointly urged me to get below deck and pray. I gladly obeyed and knelt down in sincere intercession, imploring God to show his mercy...and grant us peace which passes understanding...Thinking that we were merely poor fishermen with no profitable booty, the bandits turned and sailed away.

She got her father out safely, but discovered later that the other boats that had left with them had all been captured.

When Florence first found out about the controversy over her ordination, she writes of her reaction, “I was quite perturbed. I gave serious thought to whether I should step down or stay on. Through a moment of deep meditation in which I prayed for God’s guidance, and the constant working of the Holy Spirit, I suddenly saw the light....I was willing to give up my title as priest, but I knew that having been ordained, I had to follow the order throughout my whole life. This is my philosophy of life. No one can take away the peace that comes from completing one’s responsibility to history and fulfilling God’s will.”

Much later, she had the opportunity to visit with then-Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie. This was before the ordination of female priests in the Church of England, and Runcie was on the fence. But after talking with Florence, he commented to the archbishop of Canada, “Who am I to say whom God can or cannot call?”

Florence herself was unabashed in this opinion as well: “Let me say that it is only proper for us, not to discriminate between sexes, but with one heart and one mind bear witness to Christ...If we stand steadfast in our faith, and both male and female cooperate in bringing heaven on earth, decisive victory is certain through the power of the Holy Spirit. Besides, is not our God an omnipotent God, and our help in ages past?”

 -- Megan Castellan


Gregory the Great vs. Florence Li-Tim Oi

  • Florence Li-Tim Oi (79%, 2,808 Votes)
  • Gregory the Great (21%, 726 Votes)

Total Voters: 3,534

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Martin Luther King, Jr. vs. Frances Perkins

In a rare battle of contemporaries, Martin Luther King, Jr. takes on Frances Perkins in today's Lent Madness match-up. Will quirks, quotes, or a combination win the day? To get to this point, MLK had to fend off his namesake, Protestant Reformer Martin Luther, while Frances Perkins felled Hawaiian Damien of Molokai.

More questions: Will U.S. Labor Department employees turn out for their former Secretary thereby fueling further controversy? Will Heidi's going way over the word count impact the outcome? What about all those Mount Holyoke alums jazzed to support one of their own? Or will everyone be walking to Selma by the end of the day?

Yesterday Luke sent John Donne to the literary showers and will face the winner of Benedict of Nursia vs. Dorothy Day in the Elate Eight. And in our "To 5,000 and Beyond!" campaign we're rapidly closing in on 5,000 likes on our Facebook page. In fact we're at 4,990+ as of this morning. The 5,000th Lent Madness liker will receive the grand prize of dinner with Tim and Scott! (fine print: winner is responsible for travel expenses, luxurious accommodations, and the cost of a fancy dinner).

In Lent Madness evangelism news, Tim will be appearing live on Boston Public Radio this afternoon sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 pm to talk about everyone's favorite Lenten devotion. If you want to tune in to WGBH go here and then click the "Listen Live" button. This could be a disaster.

Martin_Luther_King_-_March_on_WashingtonMartin Luther King, Jr. 

Martin Luther King, Jr., must have been an interesting student. Finishing high school at fifteen, in college he excelled in Bible but struggled with French. At seminary, he made a C in public speaking -- twice!

He and his wife, Coretta Scott King, spent their 1953 honeymoon at a funeral parlor because they couldn’t stay at at a white-owned hotel.

In 1967, he convinced Nichelle Nichols to continue in her role as Lt. Uhura on Star Trek because she was portraying an intelligent crew member who happened to be black rather than a stereotype. “I’m your biggest fan,” he told her.

Harassed, bombed, jailed, stabbed, and finally assassinated at age 39, the focus of King’s life work was justice for all people based on the command of the Gospel. He frequently quoted the prophet Amos: “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

And he always maintained hope. “The arc of the moral universe is long,” he said, “but it bends toward justice.”

“Nonviolence,” he said at his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time -- the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.”

His vision was always on the life and work of Christ and the promise of God. “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”

On the other hand, he had harsh words for the church: “So here we are moving toward the exit of the 20th-century with a religious community largely adjusted to the status quo, standing as a taillight behind other community agencies rather than a headlight leading men to higher levels of justice.”

This was his answer to the charge that he was an extremist: “Was not Jesus an extremist in love...[and] Amos an extremist for justice... [and] Paul an extremist for the Gospel? ... So the question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist we will be? Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love?”

King fervently believed that the work of Christians is not about “pie in the sky by and by” but that we are called to transform this world with the “fierce urgency of now.” “The gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well-being. Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”

Dr. King had a dream of a transformed world and believed that dream “will be accomplished by persons who have the courage to put an end to suffering by willingly suffering themselves rather than inflict suffering on others.”

Sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it?

Please add your favorite quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. in the comments!

-- Penny Nash

perkins-jesusbeamsFrances Perkins

Frances Perkins, Labor Secretary from 1933 to 1945 under Franklin D. Roosevelt, was the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet. As Secretary of Labor, she was the prime mover of the New Deal, championing a social safety net to the elderly, minimum wage, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), unemployment insurance, a shorter work week, and worker safety regulations. It is said that she wrote wrote the Social Security Act in the rectory of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Washington, DC.

Kirstin Downey, in her recent biography of Perkins, The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR'S Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience describes the role of faith in her life. It “served as a bedrock and a way to seek meaning in life when so much seemed inexplicable. These religious leanings became progressively more pronounced over time. When friends once questioned why it was important to help the poor, Frances responded that it was what Jesus would want them to do."

While many comments in the first round of Lent Madness pointed to the likelihood of Perkins living an opulent, la-de-da life in Washington, Downey points to a position in Philadelphia that Perkins took in the first decade of the last century. She worked on behalf of poor, immigrant young women who were brought to the U.S. to work at what they thought were legitimate jobs but turned out to be prostitution. “Frances’s job,” writes, Downey, “was to find ways to put pimps and drug dealers out of business, to detect, confront, and bring to law enforcement’s attention the establishment's preying on women: work considered daunting for even the most experienced social workers.

By the time she was in her early thirties, Perkins’ advocacy had led her to the New York State Legislature where, in 1913, she successfully campaigned for the 54-hour work week(!). It was around this time, even though women did not yet have the vote, that Frances began to appreciate the finer points of gaining influence in the halls of power controlled almost exclusively by men. Still a young woman, she realized that men respected their mothers and so began, rather than craft her appearance in a way that was attractive to men, to dress and comport herself in a way that would remind men of their mothers.

From early in her public life, Perkins had a strong sense of what constitutes the common good and the inherent value in every human life, “Our idea....has advanced with the procession of the ages, from those desperate times when just to keep body and soul together was an achievement, to the great present when ‘good’ includes an agreeable, stable civilization accessible to all, the opportunity of each to develop his particular genius and the privilege of mutual usefulness."

She also said, “I don’t see how people who don’t believe in God can go on in this world as it is today.”

But while she faced many challenges in her personal life as well as obstacles in her professional life, her belief in action and the ability of a small group of people to create change is reflected in this quote: "Most of man's problems upon this planet, in the long history of the race, have been met and solved either partially or as a whole by experiment based on common sense and carried out with courage."

Adam Cohen, former New York Times editorial writer and FDR historian, wrote, “If American history textbooks accurately reflected the past, Frances Perkins would be recognized as one of the nation’s greatest heroes – as iconic as Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Paine. Like Franklin, Perkins was a brilliant self-creation….  Like Paine, Perkins helped to start a revolution….  The New Deal was Perkins’ revolution, and it did nothing less than create modern America.”

But what about the other lesser known instances of Frances Perkins’ fame? Would there have been The Sound of Music without Frances Perkins?

Her advocacy for asylum seekers in the 1930s, through not as successful for German Jews as she would have liked, resulted in helping the Von Trapp family achieve asylum in the U.S. Because until 1940 the Department of Labor controlled the U.S. Immigration Service, Perkins was successful in helping to extend, often permanently, the visitor visas of at least 30,000 German Jews already in the U.S. Sadly, tussles with the Department of State and lack of solidarity among American Jewish leaders (many of whom worried that a great influx of Jews from Europe would heighten anti-Semitism at home) hampered her ability to persuade FDR to increase quotas. Perhaps as many as 1,000 asylum seekers, about 400 of them children in a special program, were eventually brought to the U.S prior to its entering the war.

While Frances Perkins’ roots in Maine run deep -- the Frances Perkins Center is based in Newcastle, Maine (where I happen to live) -- she was little known here until March 2011 when Governor Paul LePage decreed that a federally-funded public work of art, a 36-foot mural depicting moments from Maine’s labor history, was to be removed from the Maine Department of Labor offices in Augusta. Perkins is featured on one of the panels. As anger and lawsuits about the mural’s removal raged throughout Maine, Perkins’ name and stock rose quickly. After spending nearly two years in “an undisclosed location,” the mural was installed in the Maine State Museum in January 2013. Come on up and see it.

-- Heidi Shott


Martin Luther King, Jr. vs. Frances Perkins

  • Frances Perkins (52%, 2,160 Votes)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. (48%, 2,014 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,173

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Luke the Evangelist vs. John Donne

Today's match-up pits two writers against one another. Evangelist vs. Poet. In other words if you've ever experienced the agony of writer's block, this battle's for you.

No one seemed to experience voter's block yesterday as Hilda of Whitby held off a feisty Ignatius of Antioch to advance to the Elate Eight. She'll face the winner of Martha of Bethany vs. Harriet Tubman (good luck with that).

While everyone knows we have the best Celebrity Bloggers in the Celebrity Blogger business, we need to say a word about our own Laurie Brock. Some of you may know that a few days ago Laurie took a spill off her galloping horse and fell onto a fence. While she's at home and recovering nicely, she did break several ribs and punctured a lung. We invite you, the Lent Madness community, to keep Laurie in your prayers in the weeks ahead. An out-of-commission priest less than three weeks before Easter is not a good thing.

While the SEC got off its duff and wrote yesterday's write-up for Hilda (one of Laurie's saints), Laurie insisted on writing today's entry for John Donne. In other words, she is so dedicated to Lent Madness that she overcame broken bones and internal injuries to fulfill her commitment. While most of us would be crying while curled up in the fetal position and cursing the world (speaking for myself), Laurie has gotten right back in the Lent Madness saddle (um, bad analogy). Of course, this shouldn't affect your voting choice since the last thing Laurie would want would be sympathy votes for John Donne.

Tim and Scott addressed Laurie's situation and the inherent hazards of Celebrity Bloggership in yesterday's edition of Monday Madness along with a response to the accusation that Lent Madness is a liberal religious gambling site. Monday Madness: It's must see (low production value internet) TV!

And finally, if you haven't liked Lent Madness on Facebook (and reaped the benefits of all the bonus material) this is the week to do so. We're on a campaign to hit 5,000 likes by the end of the week. Why? Because we like round numbers and Tim and Scott could use the affirmation as a measure of their self-worth. Thanks to all our new "likers" who heeded the call yesterday -- well over 150 of you -- to put us at 4,859 as of this very moment.

2-saint-luke-grangerLuke the Evangelist

Luke the Evangelist and author of Luke-Acts gave us many key stories of the New Testament, including stories of Jesus’ birth and the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. But the stories about Luke himself are thin on the ground. What is he hiding? He’s the patron saint of bachelors and brewers, which is suggestive. Was he part of a fraternity? He was a Greek after all.

He’s also the patron saint of painters, based on a legend that he painted an official portrait of the Madonna. Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote a sonnet about “St. Luke the Painter” that begins:

Give honor unto Luke Evangelist
For he it was (the aged legends say)
Who first taught Art to fold her hands and pray.

It is claimed that both the Black Madonna of Czestochowa and the Madonna Nikopeia were painted by Luke with the Madonna sitting as model, telling him stories of Jesus’ life and ministry.

Luke is often seen with his emblem of an ox, which either symbolizes the priestly aspect of his gospel (since it begins with the priest Zechariah) or the sacrificial nature of Jesus’ ministry. Or someone decided to make the four beasts surrounding God’s throne in Ezekiel 1 match the four gospels of the New Testament canon and Luke got the ox.

There is another story about Luke in the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine (compiled in the 13th-Century) that claims Luke appeared to the Christians of Antioch who “had abandoned themselves to vice,” and were “besieged by a horde of the Turks.” Luckily, with Luke’s intercession, “the Christians straightaway put the Turks to rout.” And no doubt straightened up their act.

So apparently Luke kept an eye on his hometown of Antioch, which was probably tricky since he’s a bit scattered. In 357, his remains were moved to Constantinople by Constantine, then later taken to Padua, having been stolen by Crusaders. In 1992, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Ieronymos of Thebes and Levathia requested a bit of Luke and received “the rib of Luke that was closest to his heart,” which is now buried in Thebes. His head somehow ended up in Prague at some point, apparently. Other competing relics include three arms, a knee, two fingers, a tooth, and some miscellaneous bones.

A DNA test of a tooth from the Padua relics, however, suggest the remains are indeed “characteristic of people living near the region of Antioch, on the eastern Mediterranean, where Luke is said to have been born. Radiocarbon dating of the tooth indicates that it belonged to someone who died between 72 A.D. and 416 A.D.” So you know that’s legit.

-- Laura Toepfer

JD-1855John Donne

John Donne’s life preached the truth that humans are complex, rich texts. Like the stories in our Holy Scripture, one cannot read the section of Donne’s later ordained life as Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in 17th-century England without reading the first chapters of his adventures as a rake and scoundrel. Donne was born into a prominent Roman Catholic family and attended several institutions of higher learning, never attaining a degree. Instead, he jumped ship to the European continent, wrote bawdy poetry, womanized, partied, and lived life out loud while writing even more poetry. After going legit (sort of -- he was still one of London’s official playboys), his wit and intelligence landed him a job as the private secretary to one of the highest officials in the queen’s court. He secured a seat in Elizabeth’s last parliament and was on the fast track to fame and fortune. Then he ruined it all for love. He secretly married Ann More and her father and John’s employer were totally opposed to the match. Yet they married. Donne got sacked and landed in jail, along with the priest who married them. Donne summed up the experience in one sentence:  “John Donne, Ann Donne, Undone.”

While Donne had quietly converted to Anglicanism some time during the 1590‘s, he began more deeply to explore his faith in the early 1600’s. He began to mingle the erotic sexuality of his early poetry with what Donne called the “amorous seeking of Christ.” He quoted Solomon to explain his erotic religious poetry (and probably his earlier erotic not-so-religious poetry), reminding us that Solomon “was amorous, and excessive in the love of women: when he turned to God, he departed not utterly from his old phrase and language, but...conveys all his loving approaches and applications to God.”

His friends began to urge him to consider holy orders. He resisted, noting that some in England considered him a pornographer and that, “some irregularities of my life have been so visible to some men.” King James, however, wanted him to become a priest, and the king’s will was done.  Donne was ordained and soon became known as a great preacher in a era of great preachers.

Many of Donne’s poems, essays, and sermons during this time reflect a fixation on death (many being code for most). During his 10-year tenure as Dean of St. Paul’s the Black Plague swept through London thrice (this is about Donne; I can use thrice). His beloved wife Ann died before he became Dean and 5 of his 12 children died in childhood. He had a painting done of himself in a death shroud before he died. Yet his words focus not on the hopelessness of death, but the embrace of God’s love that awaits us through the gates of death.

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....
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Donne’s life -- all of it -- preached. His sermons, his poetry, his satire, and his essays weave the fullness of human life together. Courageously he did not edit out the distasteful, racy parts, but allowed all the words he lived and wrote to be offered to the glory of God. Donne’s life was filled with love, loss, passion, mistakes, poverty, riches and redemption. No chapter was wasted or ignored by Donne or God.  For Donne, “[A]ll mankind is of one author and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.”

-- Laurie Brock


Luke vs John Donne

  • Luke (56%, 2,097 Votes)
  • John Donne (44%, 1,655 Votes)

Total Voters: 3,750

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Hilda of Whitby vs. Ignatius of Antioch

Welcome back, friends, to Lent Madness and the third match-up in the Round of the Saintly Sixteen. We'll continue all week with this round featuring quirks and quotes from our saintly contestants. Today Hilda of Whitby takes on Ignatius of Antioch in a clash of influential figures about 600 years apart. To get to this point, Hilda routed Samuel Seabury and Ignatius came out victorious in the Battle of the Iggys by slipping past Ignatius of Loyola.

We did our best to help keep your weekend bout with Lent Madness Withdrawal (LMW) at bay. Because we care, we...

1. Shared some creative ways parishes are using Lent Madness in a post titled Creative Juices Overfloweth.

2. Linked to an article about Lent Madness taking over the entire state of South Dakota (we're still waiting on confirmation that the members of the Supreme Executive Committee will be added to Mount Rushmore).

3. Found out from the conservative website The Daily Caller that Lent Madness is part of a liberal conspiracy and may be responsible for the downfall of the Obama Administration. (Don't read the comments that follow if you have a weak stomach).

Our goal for this week, in addition to the usual Madness, is to get over 5,000 likes on Facebook. There's no reason, with your help, that we can't achieve this milestone. If you're on Facebook but have't yet liked us, you're missing some bonus material and links to get you through the day. (It's kind of like getting the deleted scenes on a movie DVD). We're hovering in the low 4,700's right now. Come on, people!

icon_st_hilda2Hilda of Whitby

Hilda (614-680) was the founding Abbess of the Monastery in Whitby, England. The source of our information about Hilda’s life is from the Venerable Bede’s The Ecclesiastical History of the English -- we have no surviving direct quotes from Hilda herself. According to Bede, Hilda was brought up in the court of King Edwin of Northumbria after her father, the king’s brother, was poisoned when Hilda was an infant. She was baptized along with King Edwin and his entire court in 627.

Bede tells us that Hilda's widowed mother, Breguswith, had a dream in which her daughter's destiny was foretold. In this dream she suddenly became aware that her husband was missing and, after a frantic yet fruitless search, she found a valuable necklace under her dress. When she gazed upon the jewel it brilliantly illuminated all of England. This vision was interpreted as foreshadowing the light Hilda was destined to shine on British Christianity.

As a young woman Hilda entered a convent, influenced by St. Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne. In 657 she founded the monastery in Whitby, where she remained until her death. Bede describes her as a woman of great energy, wisdom, and a skilled administrator. Many kings and princes sought her council and it is no accident that the Synod of Whitby was held at her monastery in 664. It was here that the church in England decided to follow the Roman rather than the Celtic path, a decision that would impact the course of Christianity in Great Britain.

Legend has it that when snakes infested the town of Whitby, Hilda’s prayer turned the snakes into stones. Here’s a verse by Sir Walter Scott commemorating this event:

When Whitby’s nuns exalting told,
Of thousand snakes, each one
Was changed into a coil of stone,
When Holy Hilda pray’d:
Themselves, without their holy ground,
Their stony folds had often found.

As Bede writes in his hagiography of Hilda:

Thus this servant of Christ, Abbess Hilda, whom all that knew her called Mother, for her singular piety and grace, was not only an example of good life, to those that lived in her monastery, but afforded occasion of amendment and salvation to many who lived at a distance, to whom the fame was brought of her industry and virtue; for it was necessary that the dream which her mother had, during her infancy, should be fulfilled.


Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch, and was martyred during the 1st-century. His series of letters, written as he was carried under guard to his death at Rome, provide key insight into the Early Church’s understanding of church unity, ecclesiology, and the sacraments.

Even as he was facing the near certainty of his death at Rome, Ignatius appears to have kept his own unique sense of humor as he wrote his letters. While writing to the Church at Ephesus, he opined on a few newly found fashion accessories:

Let nothing appeal to you apart from Jesus Christ, in whom I carry around these chains (my spiritual pearls!), by which I hope, through your prayers, to rise again.

While his letters show no sign that Ignatius ever owned any pets of his own, one of Ignatius’ statements reveals that he might have had great sympathy for any cat owner who just can’t seem to get their pet to act nicely:

I am fighting with wild beasts, on land and sea, by night and day, chained amidst ten leopards (that is, a company of soldiers) who only get worse when they are well treated. Yet because of their mistreatment I am becoming more of a disciple; nevertheless I am not thereby justified.

Among the common threads uniting Ignatius’ letters is his plea for unity within the church. In his letter to the Ephesians, he presents a stunning image of the church as a choir:

In your unanimity and harmonious love Jesus Christ is sung. You must join this chorus, every one of you, so that by being harmonious in unanimity and taking your pitch from God you may sing in unison with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father, in order that he may both hear you and, on the basis of what you do well, acknowledge that you are members of his Son. It is, therefore, advantageous for you to be in perfect unity, in order that you may always have a share in God.

Legends also abound about Ignatius; one holds that he was among the children taken into Jesus’ arms in Matthew 19. Another says that even as Ignatius was tortured before his death, he never ceased to proclaim Jesus. His tormenters are said to have demanded why Ignatius insisted, to his own detriment, to continue to preach Jesus Christ. Ignatius responded: “Know for certain that I have this name written in my heart, and therefore I cannot proclaim any other name.” After his martyrdom by lions, the legend holds that Ignatius’ body was opened and that Jesus’ name was found inscribed, in letters of gold, on his heart.

Legend or not, it is certain that Christ and the church never were far from Ignatius’ heart, for it was in service of both that Ignatius ultimately gave his life.

-- David Sibley


HIlda of Whitby vs. Ignatius of Antioch

  • Hilda of Whitby (54%, 2,049 Votes)
  • Ignatius of Antioch (47%, 1,781 Votes)

Total Voters: 3,829

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Oscar Romero vs. Lucy

The Saintly Sixteen continues with this year's early Cinderella, Lucy, taking on another modern martyr, Oscar Romero. Lucy made it this far by upsetting John the Baptist while Oscar Romero trounced Elizabeth Ann Seton. Will the "eyes" have it or will the assassinated archbishop carry the day?

In an emotional match-up (get used to it) yesterday, Jonathan Daniels bested Janani Luwum. He'll go on to face the winner of Martin Luther King, Jr. vs. Frances Perkins in the Elate Eight.

Despite the effects of Lent Madness Withdrawal (LMW) we all might need some time to catch our collective breath this weekend before a full week of Saintly Sixteen match-ups.

Romero 2Oscar Romero

Oscar Romero, Roman Catholic archbishop in El Salvador, used his position to advocate for the rights of the oppressed, and for his advocacy, was assassinated while saying mass in 1980.

Archbishop Romero was orthodox to the core; he even went to Opus Dei for spiritual direction. To his mind, giving voice to the voiceless was advocating for the Church in its truest sense:

You and I and all of us are worth very much because we are creatures of God...and so the church values human beings and contends for their rights, for their freedom, for their dignity.  That is an authentic church endeavor. While human rights are violated,...while there are tortures, the church considers itself persecuted, it feels troubled, because the church...cannot tolerate that an image of God be trampled by persons that become brutalized by trampling on others. The church wants to make that image beautiful.

Sadly, his fellow bishops and the Vatican hierarchy did not agree. When he had an audience with Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Romero used the opportunity to present the pope with a list of the names of the desparacidos that he had gathered, and urged the pope’s immediate intervention. But due to his continued, and fruitless, lobbying of the Vatican, by March 24, 1980, the pope had signed the order to replace him as archbishop. He never got the chance -- Romero was assassinated that evening[1].

Romero’s preaching, because it was broadcast throughout the country, was a powerful persuasive tool in the bloody civil war, and Romero took full advantage of it. In his last Sunday sermon, he directly addressed the members of the death squads:

Brothers, you came from our own people. You are killing your own brother peasants when any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God which says, 'Thou shalt not kill'. No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. is high time you recovered your consciences and obeyed your consciences rather than a sinful order. The church, the defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of human dignity, of the person, cannot remain silent before such an abomination. ... In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you -- I beg you -- I order you -- in the name of God: stop the repression.

Until the end, Romero thought martyrdom was a fate too honorable for him; “If God accepts the sacrifice of my life, may my death be for the freedom of my people. A bishop will die, but the Church of God, which is the people, will never perish. I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will rise again in the people of El Salvador."

-- Megan Castellan


It's great that this round features quirks and legends, since much of what we know about Lucy is legendary. Aside from the important fact that she suffered martyrdom (during the Diocletian persecution of Christians in the 4th-century) after distributing her dowry to the poor, little is known of her life. She has always been a very popular saint, appealing to Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Anglicans alike. Major feasts for Lucy abound, from Sweden to Italy to Omaha, Nebraska, plus she has an island in the Lesser Antilles named after her.

Legend has it that Lucy’s eyes were torn out, either by her own self or by her torturers, but God supplied her with new eyes. Thus, she is often portrayed holding a platter with a pair of eyes on it, and she is the patron saint of the blind and those with eye diseases.

Another legend explains why in Scandinavia Lucy carries a tray of coffee and saffron buns shaped like cats with raisin eyes (lussekatter): during a 19th-century famine,  a glowing Lucy arrived in a Swedish village by boat, bringing food to the starving residents. She wears the crown of lighted candles so that her hands are free to distribute nourishment to the hungry as she represents the Light of Christ in the world.

A similar 16th-century legend comes from her hometown of Syracuse, Sicily, where she appeared in the harbor, wearing her halo of candles, directing a flotilla of ships delivering wheat to famished Sicilians on her feast day (December 13). The people were so hungry that they simply boiled the wheat, rather than taking time to grind it into flour, hence the eating of wheat berries (cuccia) on St. Lucy’s day in Sicily.

Not many saints have their own soundtrack. Lucy inspired the traditional Neapolitan song “Santa Lucia” which Elvis Presley liked so much that he recorded it on his album “Elvis for Everyone” AND sang it in his movie “Viva Las Vegas.” It was also sung by Barney on “The Andy Griffith Show,” by the Robot and Will Robinson on “Lost in Space,” as well as featured in a Tom & Jerry cartoon, an episode of “Hogan’s Heroes,” and The Marx Brothers movie “A Night at the Opera.”

In all seriousness, though, Lucy’s steadfastness in her faith despite the violence done to her and her selfless generosity to the poor and hungry have inspired people in all times and places (see her photo here with Baby Jesus). With this plethora of stories (and more but I’m going over the word count!), it is clear that there are many reasons why Lucy is so universally beloved. I invite our dear readers to add theirs in the comments below.

-- Penny Nash


Oscar Romero vs. Lucy

  • Oscar Romero (70%, 2,523 Votes)
  • Lucy (31%, 1,108 Votes)

Total Voters: 3,628

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Jonathan Daniels vs. Janani Luwum

Welcome to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen! After 16 bruising battles, we have cut the field from 32 saints to 16. We've already seen our fair share of hotly contested match-ups, blow-outs, and Cinderellas and we're only half-way through the bracket. Lent Madness, like Lent, is part endurance race and we encourage those who have come thus far to buckle down for the duration. As Saint Paul (who was upset by Emma of Hawaii last year) says, "Run with perseverance the race that is set before you."

In this round, we move past basic biographies and delve into what we like to call "Quirks and Quotes." We'll learn some unusual facts about our saints and hear about them, either in their own words or in words uttered or written about them. Some of our holy men and women are quirkier than others and some are more quotable. As always, remember these match-ups are neither fair nor for the faint of heart. If you want a bland Lenten devotion you've come to the wrong place.

The Saintly Sixteen action begins with two modern-day martyrs, Jonathan Daniels and Janani Luwum. In the first round, Daniels defeated Macrina the Younger and Luwum swept past Thomas Tallis. With all of the subsequent rounds you can click on the Bracket 2013 tab and scroll down to find links to the previous match-ups. This is particularly helpful if you need a quick refresher bio when making your decision. Thanks to our unsung Bracket Czar, Adam Thomas, for making this happen!

Yesterday, the final match-up of the second round was set as Dorothy Day slipped past Edward Thomas Demby and will next face Benedict of Nursia. The other Saintly Sixteen pairings are Oscar Romero vs. Lucy, Martin Luther King, Jr. vs. Frances Perkins, Martha of Bethany vs. Harriet Tubman, Luke vs. John Donne, Gregory the Great vs. Florence Li-Tim Oi, and Hilda of Whitby vs. Ignatius of Antioch.

61danielssermon_thumbJonathan Myrick Daniels

Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a 26-year-old seminarian and Civil Rights worker, was killed by a shotgun blast in 1965 when he pulled a 16-year-old African American girl out of the line of fire.

A native of Keene, New Hampshire, Jonathan Daniels attended the Virginia Military Institute.  Though as his yearbook page attests, “The presence of a New Hampshire Yankee in a southern military college has for four years roused the curiosity of his Dixie colleagues,” he was voted Valedictorian of the class of 1961.

After graduation, Daniels began a graduate program in English at Harvard, but the death of his father two years earlier had left him battling depression and a loss of faith. Attending the Church of the Advent on Easter Sunday 1962, he experienced a profound religious experience, inspiring him to leave graduate school and pursue Holy Orders.

Daniels had a similar sense of calling through worship when he decided to go to Selma. After reluctantly deciding “that the idea [of going to Selma] was impractical, and with a faintly tarnished feeling, I tucked in an envelope my contribution to the proposed ‘Selma Fund.’

“I had come to Evening Prayer as usual that evening, and as usual I was singing the Magnificat with the special love and reverence I have always had for Mary’s glad song. ‘He hath showed strength with his arm…' As the lovely hymn of the God-bearer continued, I found myself peculiarly alert, suddenly straining toward the decisive, luminous, Spirit-filled ‘moment’ that would, in retrospect, remind me of others – particularly of one at Easter three years ago. Then it came. ‘He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things…’ I knew then that I must go to Selma.”

This phrase from the Magnificat is included in the collect for the feast of Jonathan Daniels.

From his work in Alabama, Daniels gained a deep understanding of the prejudice that held the whole country in thrall. After speaking to a church group in his hometown, “a militant liberal expressed the wish that I would stop calling the parishioners of St. Paul’s [Selma] ‘Christians’ – ‘churchmen’ would make her happier. Instinctively, I felt defensive for the people of my adopted ‘parish family,’ recalling the painful ambivalence and anguished perplexity some of them were beginning…to feel.” And after being teargassed in Camden, Alabama, “I saw that the men who came at me were themselves not free. Even though they were white and hateful and my enemy, they were human beings too. I began to discover a new freedom in the cross: freedom to love the enemy, and in that freedom, to will and to try to set him free.”

-- Laura Toepfer

Archbishop Luwum with Idi Amin

Archbishop Luwum with Idi Amin

Janani Luwum

As a young boy, Janani Luwum (1922-1977) tended goats. As a young man, soon after his conversion to Christianity, he climbed a tree to preach a sermon to children in the courtyard of a school. As a newly ordained priest, he served twenty-four congregations with only a bicycle on which to get around. So it seems that Archbishop Luwum was only a little quirky.

The strength of his faith is reflected in his words.

Quote from the day he embraced Christianity:
“Today I have become a leader in Christ's army. I am prepared to die in the army of Jesus. As Jesus shed his blood for the people, if it is God's will, I do the same.”

Quote about that conversion:
"When I was converted, after realizing that my sins were forgiven and the implications of Jesus' death and resurrection, I was overwhelmed by a sense of joy and peace.…The reality of Jesus overwhelmed me – and it still does."

Quote from his epilogue to a centennial history of Ugandan Christianity:
“What will happen in the next hundred years or so?…we have seen that the Church is founded on the belief in the sure foundation who is Jesus Christ, the Saviour. He is the sure Rock of our Salvation and therefore we will not fear any evil.”

Quote explaining why his participation in those centennial celebrations would be limited:
"I do not want to be the Archbishop of a dead church, but of a live one."

Quote in response to criticism of his willingness to meet repeatedly with Idi Amin:
"I do not know for how long I shall be occupying this chair. I live as though there will be no tomorrow. I face daily being picked up by the soldiers. While the opportunity is there, I preach the gospel with all my might, and my conscience is clear before God that I have not sided with the present government, which is utterly self-seeking. I have been threatened many times. Whenever I have the opportunity I have told the President the things the churches disapprove of. God is my witness."

Quote whispered to fellow Anglican bishop Festo Kivengere as Archbishop Luwum, like Jesus, was mocked by the soldiers of a dictator before he was executed:
"They are going to kill me. I am not afraid."

Quote spoken to a young lawyer named John Sentamu, who decided to become a priest on the day that Archbishop Luwum was martyred and who now serves as the Archbishop of York:
"We must be Christ to these people: be our advocate and take up their cases. The local prison is filled to capacity with innocent people suspected of opposing the government."

-- Neil Alan Willard


Jonathan Daniels vs. Janani Luwum

  • Jonathan Daniels (62%, 2,284 Votes)
  • Janani Luwum (38%, 1,425 Votes)

Total Voters: 3,704

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