Celebrity (Shrove) Blogger Day!

Happy Celebrity Blogger Day! Sure, in years past we've had Celebrity Blogger Week (okay, week and a half). But the 10th year of Lent Madness calls for hyper-efficiency. Hence our incredible, super star Celebrity Bloggers are relegated to a single day. But what a day it is!

Not only are we highlighting the talented and faithful souls who will bring alive the saints of Lent Madness X, you get to eat pancakes while reading all about them. Plus the Supreme Executive Committee, in its benevolent wisdom, has conferred upon this momentous occasion the gift of its very own hashtag: #ShroveBloggerDay. Yes, this is one mashup you won't won't to miss. It's sure to go viral -- just kindly don't spill syrup on any of our Celebrity Bloggers. It's so...sticky.

Who are these semi-mysterious folks who toil under the bright lights of penitential celebrity status? Well, they'll sound familiar because, for the first time in Lent Madness history, the lineup is unchanged. That's right. The same amazing writers who brought you Lent Madness 2018 will bring you Lent Madness 2019. Not that they aren't free to go at any time. Really.


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Free Lent Madness Stuff!

Here at Lent Madness we're purveyors of free things -- grace (fine, that's from God), brackets (you can print your own), and this entire Lenten devotion -- despite our regular hawking of Saintly Scorecards and Bracket Posters, there is no cost to participate in Lent Madness.

But that's not all! Today we're offering two more FREE THINGS for all you church newsletter and Sunday bulletin creators: A free Lent Madness 2019 article AND free bulletin inserts!

How can you use the free article? Put it in your newsletter; put a stamp on it and mail it to your entire parish directory; print out copies and plaster them on windshields in the church parking lot (or at the grocery store); attach it to a drone and deliver it to the front door of all your neighbors.

How can you use the free bulletin insert? Download it, print it out, and stuff it into your Sunday bulletin; sneak it inside the grocery store circular when you're shopping for purple Lent-based food items like beets; go to neighboring churches and pay off the usher to put it into THEIR bulletins.

For those curious about this "Lent Madness thing," these (free) items serve as perfect introductions. And they're entirely free for however you see fit to use them. This is yet another, value-added service provided to you from your friends at Lent Madness.

Lent Madness 2019 The Saintly Smackdown is back!

Just when you thought Lent couldn’t possibly become even more penitential, have we got an online hair shirt for you! For the tenth year running, people of faith are filling out saintly brackets and gearing up for the 2019 “saintly smackdown.” 

With its unique blend of competition, learning, and humor, Lent Madness allows participants to be inspired by the ways in which God has worked through the lives of saintly souls across generations and cultures. Throughout Lent, thirty-two saints will do battle to win the coveted Golden Halo. Based loosely on the NCAA basketball tournament of a similar name, this online devotion pits saints against one another in a bracket as voters choose their favorites throughout this penitential season.

Here’s how to participate: on the weekdays of Lent, information is posted at www.lentmadness.org about two different saints. Each pairing remains open for 24 hours as participants read about and then vote to determine which saint moves on to the next round. Sixteen 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 coveted 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.

This year, Lent Madness features an intriguing slate of saints ancient and modern, Biblical and ecclesiastical. 2019 heavyweights include Ignatius of Loyola, Nicodemus, Margaret of Cortona, John Chrysostom, and Nicholas of Myra (aka St. Nick). The competition kicks off on “Ash Thursday,” March 7, with an epic battle between Biblical saints Mary and Martha.

The full bracket is online at the Lent Madness website www.lentmadness.org and, while not necessary to participate, you can order The Saintly Scorecard: The Definitive Guide to Lent Madness 2019 at www.forwardmovement.org. This companion guide includes biographies of all 32 saints, a full-color bracket, and information about how to fully participate.

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 who make up the church’s calendar of saints, Schenck devised this devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born.

Starting in 2012, Schenck partnered with Forward Movement (the same folks that publish Forward Day by Day) executive director Scott Gunn, to bring Lent Madness to the masses. Schenck and Gunn form the self-appointed Supreme Executive Committee, a more-or-less benevolent dictatorship that runs the entire operation.

Borrowing inspiration from yet another national sporting event, Schenck and Gunn are referring to the 2019 competition as Lent Madness X. 

Over the years, the formula has worked as this online devotional has been featured in media outlets all over the country including national television, the Washington Post, NPR, USAToday, and even Sports Illustrated (seriously). More importantly thousands of people have been inspired by the saintly stories of those who have come before us in the faith.

Ten “celebrity bloggers” from across the country have been tapped to write for the project: the Rev. Amber Belldene of San Francisco, CA; the Rev. Laurie Brock of Lexington, KY; the Rev. Megan Castellan of Ithaca, BY; Anna Fitch Courie of Honolulu, HI; Dr. David Creech of Morehead, MN; the Rev. David Hansen of Woodlands, TX; Emily Miller of Chicago, IL; Carol Howard Merritt of Chattanooga, TN; The Rev. Marcus Halley of Minneapolis, MN; and the Rev. David Sibley of Walla Walla, WA. Information about each of the celebrity bloggers and the rest of the team is available on the Lent Madness website.

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 get closer to Jesus Christ?

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Happy All Brackets' Day!

Even as we revel in the All Saints'-All Souls'-All Brackets' triduum, the entire world is still basking in the glow of Anna Alexander's victory in the quest for the Golden Halo last Lent. As you certainly know by now, she was a deaconess. What's one thing deacons do? They dismiss people.

So whatever you were planning for today, you are hereby dismissed. The Supreme Executive Committee is pleased to announce the 2019 Lent Madness bracket! (to read it, zoom in, open it in a new tab, print it out, or get a magnifying glass). We know you'll want to cancel your plans and spend the rest of the day poring over every saint and every match-up.


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LM @ GC Play-In: James the Great vs. James the Less

Everything's bigger in Texas. That's what people keep telling us as the Episcopal Church gathers for its triennial General Convention in Austin. Since the Supreme Executive Committee believes nothing is bigger than Lent Madness, we fit right in here!

We have a Texas-sized play-in match taking place TODAY as James the Great battles James the Less in a winner-take-all throw-down to become the first saint to crack the 2019 Lent Madness bracket. You can vote in one of two ways: online here OR by casting a special purple ballot at the Forward Movement booth in the Exhibit Hall. Polls will be open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern time today only. It's a short window, so cast your vote and tell all your friends to get to the polls! (as always, we encourage voting early but not often).

If you're in Austin, stop by the Forward Movement booth to meet Tim and Scott, take a selfie with an actual golden halo, and register your complaints about past and future brackets (which the SEC will "take under advisement"). For eagle-eyed attendees, you'll also have the opportunity to spy Distinguished Celebrity Bloggers/General Convention Deputies Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, and David Sibley.

We're grateful to veteran Celebrity Blogger David Creech for writing bios for both James the Great and James the Less (everyone else was either on vacation, working at the Convention, or ignored our email).

You can take your cattle ranches and giant slabs of barbecue. Nothing's bigger than Lent Madness in July!


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Nominationtide has arrived!

The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness wishes everyone a most blessed season of Nominationtide! For the next week, we will  accept saintly nominations for Lent Madness 2019. This holy season will run from Monday, April 23, at 8:00 am Eastern Time and conclude on Monday, April 30 at 8:00 am.


As we highlighted in a recent post, there are several Pharisaic rules and regulations in place to successfully nominate a saint. For easy reference, we are reprinting them here:

  1. The nominee must, in fact, be dead.
  2. The nominee must be on the official calendar of saintly commemorations of some church.
  3. We will accept only one nominee per person.*
  4. You must tell us WHY you are nominating the one person that you enter.*
  5. Your deceased pet, as wonderful as she or he may have been, is not eligible.
  6. The ONLY way to nominate a saint will be to leave a comment on this post.
  7. That means comments left on Facebook or Twitter don’t count.
  8. Scott and Tim may or may not be open to bribes.

* This is a new guideline as the SEC has received huge lists from individuals in the past.


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Nominationtide is nigh upon us

Mere days from now, the Supreme Executive Committee will begin accepting saintly nominations for Lent Madness 2019 during the holy season of Nominationtide (the liturgical color for this sacred season in the Church year is, obviously, purple). This year, Nominationtide will take place over a full week, running from Monday, April 23, at 8:00 am Eastern Time and concluding on Monday, April 30 at 8:00 am.

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The saints are queuing up already, hoping to be first-round draft picks of Lent Madness 2019.

It is a high honor to be invited to share nominations for what will be the 10th Anniversary Edition of Lent Madness. You will find your heart strangely warmed even if your nomination does not ultimately make it into the bracket. Why? Because every nomination will be prayerfully considered by the SEC during their upcoming annual Spring Retreat at a secure, undisclosed location.


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