Happy All Brackets' Day! And welcome to the holy Season of Pre-Lent (aka any time outside the penitential confines of Lent's 40 days and 40 nights).
While much of the world is recovering from the Halloween sugar high, the rabid Lent Madness faithful cast their collective eye toward Lent 2016. It may be more than three months away, but the 2016 bracket of 32 saints has been officially released by the Lent Madness Supreme Executive Committee! For the seventh year running, people worldwide are gearing up for the “saintly smackdown” that will kick off on “Ash Thursday,” February 11.
In response to a question about why people should think about Lent in November, Lent Madness creator, Tim says, “It’s all part of our diabolical plan to create a year-round Lent. Why be penitential for just 40 days and 40 nights? And if you can walk into some big box store and see Christmas decorations in August, why can’t you walk into your local coffee shop and see purple lights strung up in November?” Scott agrees. “The Lent-Industrial complex is alive, well and thriving. We’re simply tapping into it in order to get people talking about saints throughout the year.”
"Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ,” as Paul of Tarsus said before he was ignominiously defeated by Emma of Hawaii in Lent Madness 2012.
As you know from breathlessly following Lent Madness on Facebook and Twitter (using hashtag #SECconclave), the Supreme Executive Committee has been prayerfully discerning the 2016 bracket throughout the day. Much coffee was consumed. And then more coffee was consumed.
We realize that many of you find it unbearable to endure the wait until All Brackets’ Day (November 3), when the 2016 bracket is released to the entire world. The SEC hears the plaintive cry of the Lent Madness faithful, and we assure you of our constant concern during this wilderness time. Though not so much as to provide even a hint about the content of the aforementioned 2016 bracket.
Of course, to keep things in perspective, it could always be worse. You could contract leprosy -- although that wouldn’t be so bad either, since you would be able to meet Damien of Molokai (defeated in the first round of Lent Madness 2013) while experiencing an all-expenses-paid (not by us) trip to Hawaii.
Nonetheless, the SEC, in our beneficent magnanimity and unsurpassed compassion hereby offer the follow coping strategies: (more…)
Welcome to this special edition play-in round of Lent Madness 2016 as we mark International Lent Madness Day with purple trumpets blaring. Coincidentally, this monumental occasion coincides with Lent Madness Day at the Episcopal Church's triennial General Convention in Salt Lake City.
Voting will run for 12 hours, from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm Eastern Time with both an online poll and an in-person voting opportunity at the Forward Movement booth on the Convention floor. The winner in this matchup of the Holy C's will advance to the to-be-determined 2016 Lent Madness bracket. Stay tuned for the announcement of the full bracket on All Brackets Day, November 3rd. We suggest sitting at your computer and hitting "refresh" for the next four months in anticipation of the blessed event.
In honor of all the voting at General Convention, we thought (Hanging) Chad of Lichfield would be a worthy contender to face Clare of Assisi as the Church seeks Clare-ity in its discernment on the issues of the day.
So, friends, the fate of the initial entrant into Lent Madness 2016 rests in your capable voting (once!) hands. We will share the result sometime soon after the live and in-person polls close. Minions have been acquired to tally the results of the paper ballots in a secure, undisclosed location in the salt flats, which will then be added to the online count.
Now, on to the most important vote of the week and a brief foretaste of the Madness that is to come!
Chad of Lichfield
Chad (634-672), a native of Northumbria, was one of four brothers who lived lives in service of the Church. Chad’s eldest brother, Cedd, was Abbot of a large monastery at Lastingham. Upon his brother’s death in 664, the abbacy passed to Chad. The Venerable Bede recounts that Chad was “a holy man, modest in his ways, learned in the Scriptures, and zealous in carrying out their teaching.”
Around the time he became Abbot of Lastingham, the Bishop of Northumbria died, setting in play a strange series of events in which Chad would ultimately become intricately involved. Oswiu, the King of Northumbria, chose Wilfrid, a Northumbrian noble, to become Bishop. However, due to an outbreak of the plague in England, Wilfrid found himself unable to find the three bishops necessary to ordain him; undeterred, he sailed for France to seek ordination.
Bede notes that during Wilfrid’s absence, the King of Northumbria became impatient with the vacancy and decided to take further action. Impressed by Chad’s holiness, the King appointed him to take Wilfrid’s place as Bishop of Northumbria. Chad encountered the same problems in tracking down bishops as Wilfrid did; ultimately, he traveled to Wessex, where he was irregularly ordained bishop by two British and one Welsh bishop – none of whom were recognized by Rome. Bede recounts that Chad diligently set himself to the work of administering his see.
By the time Wilfrid returned from France, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus, denied the legitimacy of Chad’s appointment, and announced his intention to install Wilfrid to Chad’s see. Theodore instructed Chad to step down from his position as Bishop of Northumbria. In an act of profound humility and obedience, Chad did so without hesitation or reserve, and he returned to his abbacy at Lastingham.
Later that same year, the King of Mercia requested a Bishop. Remembering Chad’s example of humility and holiness, Archbishop Theodore recalled Chad from his retirement to Lastingham, and had him re-ordained as a bishop. Chad’s humility was most acutely seen when he refused to use a horse to travel his diocese, preferring to follow the example of the apostles by walking.
Chad ran his new diocese as diligently as he had administered his former one, establishing a Monastery at Barrow. Two and a half years after his re-ordination, Chad succumbed to the plague in 672. Bede recounts that Chad was “mindful to his end of all that the Lord did.”
Clare of Assisi
Clare (1194-1253) was born to a wealthy family in Assisi and as a teenager heard a moving sermon by Saint Francis (of Lent Madness 2016 Golden Halo fame).
Much to the chagrin of her family, at the age of 18 she decided to take a vow of poverty and follow a Franciscan lifestyle. Her family brought her back by force but she slipped out again and entered a nearby convent of Benedictine sisters. Soon enough Francis gave her and several other nuns both a rule of life and a dwelling built next to the church in San Damiano. They became known as the "Poor Ladies of San Damiano," living a life of poverty, prayer, and seclusion. In time, two of her sisters, her widowed mother, and several close friends also joined the order.
These female Franciscans came to be known as Poor Clares and Francis himself named Clare the Superior. The Poor Clares devoted themselves to prayer and caring for the sick, needy, and marginalized. They also lived a life of extreme poverty — beyond what other female orders had ever experienced. They lived a life of complete poverty individually and collectively; they had no beds beyond piles of twigs, they engaged in hard labor, and begged for whatever food they ate.
Clare stood up to various ecclesiastical authorities seeking to impose a less severe rule upon her order. Her strength of conviction defied the norms of female religious orders in the same way Francis faced criticism for his strict and passionate observe of his own faith.
Clare and Francis have been linked by their friendship and dedication to the Gospel of Christ. During her lifetime some even referred to her as alter Franciscus, or "another Francis." Clare tended to Francis during his old age and considered him always her spiritual father.
Clare died in 1253 at the age of 59 and her remains are kept in the Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi. Ten years after her death the order she led became known as the Order of Saint Clare.
Nominations for next year’s field of 32 saints are now being accepted by the Supreme Executive Committee. Yes, for the next week we invite you to revel in the joyful, anticipatory Season of Nominationtide.
But before we get to the main attraction, we encourage you to visit the Lentorium. You can prove your love for Lent Madness by loading up on Lent Madness merchandise, including the ubiquitous Lent Madness mug featuring 2015 Golden Halo winner Francis of Assisi, the novel pint glass featuring Silver Halo winner Brigid of Kildare, or the de rigeur purple Lent Madness t-shirt.
And now, on to the main event: the call for nominations for Lent Madness 2016!
As always, we seek to put together a balanced bracket of saints ancient and modern, Biblical and ecclesiastical representing the breadth and diversity of Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
Inevitably, some will disagree with certain match-ups or be disappointed that their favorite saint didn’t end up in the official bracket. If you find yourself muttering invective against the SEC, we implore you to take a deep cleansing breath. Remember, there’s always Lent Madness 2034.
While the SEC remains responsible for the formation of the final bracket, we encourage your participation in the nominating process. As in past years, we might even listen to some of your suggestions.
As you discern saints to nominate, please keep in mind that a number of saints are ineligible for next year’s “saintly smack down.” This includes previous Golden Halo winners, the entire field of Lent Madness 2015, those saints who made it to the Round of the Elate Eight in 2014 and 2013, and those from the 2012 Faithful Four. Here is a comprehensive list of ineligible saints. Please keep this in mind as you submit your nominations — which you can do ONLY by leaving a comment on this post. Did we mention that the only way to make a nomination for Lent Madness 2016 is to leave a comment on this post?
Also, please note that the saints you nominate should be in the sanctoral calendar of one or more churches. We’re open minded. To a point.
Remember that when it comes to saints in Lent Madness, many are called yet few are chosen (by the SEC). So leave a comment below with your (eligible) nomination!
Past Golden Halo Winners (ineligible) George Herbert, C.S. Lewis, Mary Magdalene, Frances Perkins, Charles Wesley, Francis of Assisi
The Field from 2015 (all ineligible) Gregory the Illuminator Brendan the Navigator John Keble Thecla Francis of Assisi John Wycliffe Balthazar Cecilia Bernard Mizecki Margaret of Antioch Margery Kempe Jackson Kemper Bede Cuthbert Molly Brant Swithun Hadewijch Juan Diego Dorcas Frederick Douglass Egeria Hildegard Barbara Thomas Ken Dionysius the Great Irene the Great Brigid of Kildare Elizabeth William Laud Kamehameha Teresa of Avila David Oakerhater
From 2012 — 2014 (ineligible) Basil the Great Lydia Harriet Beecher Stowe Harriet Bedell Anna Cooper Phillips Brooks Julia Chester Emery Jonathan Daniels Hilda of Whitby Luke Dorothy Day Li-Tim Oi Oscar Romero Emma of Hawaii Margaret of Scotland Dietrich Bonhoeffer
After a mysterious process of bracket discernment at the upcoming SEC Retreat, the 2016 Bracket will be released on All Brackets Day, November 3, 2015. You have until Ascension Thursday, May 14, to make your nomination. In other words, your time is up when Jesus goes up.
For now, we wish you a joyous Nominationtide.
Update: Thanks for your nominations! Nominations for Lent Madness 2016 are now closed. But stay tuned - All Brackets Day, and the grand unveiling of next year's bracket - is November 3.
Mere days from now, the Supreme Executive Committee will begin accepting saintly nominations for Lent Madness 2016 during the holy season of Nominationtide. This sacred time of the year will commence at 8:00 am this Thursday, May 7, and run for a full week, concluding on the Feast of the Ascension, May 14.
While the process for precisely how the Lent Madness bracket is formulated is one of the great sacred mysteries of the faith, know that the SEC does indeed occasionally heed the cry of the Lent Madness faithful. Thus while maintaining supremacy in all things, there is a tiny window into which Lenten democracy flows. But don't get used to it.
As you fast in preparation for Nominationtide we offer you a glimpse into the mind of the SEC with this classic Monday Madness video explaining the bracket formation process. Let's just say that ferrets are involved.