Absalom Jones vs. Catherine Booth

Hey, look! You survived the first round of the Elate Eight and have returned for more Saintly Kitsch. Kudos to you! Yesterday, in a hotly contested battle, Benedict the Moor narrowly defeated Camillus de Lellis 52%to 48% to nail down the first spot in the Faithful Four.

Today Absalom Jones faces Catherine Booth. To get here, Absalom defeated Henriette Delille and Marianne Cope, while Catherine took down Joan of Arc and Constantine. The kitsch keeps coming!


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Camillus de Lellis vs. Benedict the Moor

And then, believe it or not, there were eight! Today, and for the rest of the week, we will work our way through the Elate Eight, aka the Round of Saintly Kitsch. Not long from now, one of these saintly souls will be crowned with the 2021 Golden Halo: Camillus de Lellis, Benedict the Moor, Absalom Jones, Catherine Booth, Ives of Kermartin, Arnulf of Metz, Albert the Great, or Catherine of Genoa (who snagged the last spot yesterday by easily dispatching Isidora the Simple 74% to 26%).

The round's first matchup sees Camillus de Lellis take on Benedict the Moor. To get here, Camillus bested Matthias and Melangell, while Benedict took down Nino of Georgia and Euphrosyne. Don't forget, you can always pull up more...relevant information about the saints in this round by visiting the Bracket Tab and scrolling down to click on their previous encounters.

What exactly is saintly kitsch? You might say it's in the eye of the beholder. Or that you know it when you see it. If you need even more insights, check out yesterday's thrill-a-minute episode of Monday Madness. But, in the end, we hope this round brings out some levity, even as we continue our inspiring Lenten journey.


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Monday Madness -- Elate Eight Edition

We love alliteration here at Lent Madness HQ. So naturally, we're bringing you the Elate Eight Edition of Marvelous Monday Madness. Tim and Scott are back with another award-winning* episode of Monday Madness, in which they partake in a couple of annual traditions. And not just because they've run out of fresh material.

First, there's a bit of saintly kitsch show & tell, as we enter the round of saintly kitsch. Second, and like unto it, because we're at the kitsch round, we usually encounter a few Kitsch Kranks, the people who hate this part of Lent Madness. To that end, the SEC gives you the Summary of the (Lent Madness) Law. Again.

Would it even be an episode of Monday Madness without some product placement or high-pressure sales tactics? Now that it's spring, that means it's time for spring cleaning. Who better to invoke as the patron saint of spring cleaning than Martha of Bethany, famously overproductive domestic superstar? Fuel up with some caffeine from a Martha of Bethany 2019 Golden Halo winner mug. Your vacuum cleaner will thank you. Your dust mites will not.

* OK, sure, Monday Madness hasn't won any awards YET. But in our imagination we have several Oscars because they're so obviously deserved.


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Monday Madness -- March 15, 2021

In the go-go world of Lent Madness, the fun never ends. Don't believe us? Tune in to this week's episode of Monday Madness, which is both action-packed and fun-filled. OK, there's not much action.

Anyway, Tim and Scott are back with plenty to talk about as the Saintly Sixteen rolls on. You'll learn about a recent record-setting battLLLLe in LLLLLLent Madness. You'll see a shout-out to some big fans in Little Rock, Arkansas. And you'll get a timely reminder of the Summary of the (Lent Madness) Law.

For once, there's no product placement, but that doesn't need to stop you from browsing in the Lentorium. If you want some FREE entertainment, make sure you are enjoying Ellie Singer's epic TikTok videos. Find her on Twitter or TikTok.


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Monday Madness -- March 8, 2021

Last night, the world watched Oprah interview Harry and Meghan. Despite overtures from Oprah's people, Scott and Tim decided to forgo a moderator for the latest episode of Monday Madness. But the Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness is back with another action-packed, fun-filled episode of saintly merriment. Today they explain how the bracket of 32 saints is chosen, revealing heretofore secret details of the selection process. Perhaps even using the "Royal We" in the process.

They also answer a question from Twitter about the behind-the-scenes life of the Celebrity Bloggers. Oh, and Scott takes a sip from his Martha of Bethany 2019 Golden Halo winner coffee mug. Would it even be Monday Madness without some product placement?

Last, but not least, the Supreme Executive Committee again demonstrates its mastery of the Welsh accent.


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Monday Madness -- March 1, 2021

Are Tim and Scott bitter about being snubbed (once again!) at last night's Golden Globe Awards? Obviously. Everybody knows Monday Madness is the finest Lenten show in the penitential world. The production values alone make it stand out in the crowded field of seasonal church telecasts.

But just as they suggest people who find fault with Lent Madness start their own online Lenten devotion, they're prepared to start their own awards show. Are you ready for the Lentys? Well, they're coming and we encourage suggestions for categories (add them to the comments).

In addition to bitterness, the members of the Supreme Executive Committee are here to talk about upcoming battles, whilst carefully avoiding the indignity of mispronouncing saints' names.

All that, and more, in this new and typically epic episode of Monday Madness. Now go start choosing a fancy designer for your walk down the virtual Purple Carpet.

This is here for social media sharing. It's also here in case you want to create memes or anything.


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Monday Madness -- February 22, 2021

It's OK to enjoy things in Lent, especially right now when it's time to sit back and enjoy the latest episode of Monday Madness. Tim and Scott are back with another genre-defining episode. They review the battles of the week to come, including some fantastic themed contests.

There's also a shout-out to the wonderful fans of Lent Madness. The star this week is Ellie Singer, whose daily TikTok videos are stupendous. Follow @elliegsing on Twitter or TikTok to keep up. Oh, while you're there, make sure you're following @LentMadness on Twitter and Facebook.

Also, the Supreme Executive Committee is trying to set a record for the number of text effects used in one short clip. We're not sure if we've got the record, but we must be close.


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Always Resurrection

"It is winter in Narnia," said Mr. Tumnus, "and has been for ever so long...always winter, but never Christmas." In the imaginative writing of Golden Halo 2011 winner C. S. Lewis, Narnia was in the grip of what seemed like an endlessly grim winter. It's not hard for us to grasp this image as the United States is largely covered with snow and filled with shivering people in the midst of a pandemic.

flowers in snow

In the church, one would be forgiven for thinking it's always Lent and never Easter. Last year's Lent started pretty normally, but most churches closed to in-person worship before Holy Week. We started a Lenten journey that it may well seem we never finished. In the last year, we've been worn down by a pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Our normal patterns and beloved customs are disrupted.

One may wonder if we're in the grip of an endlessly grim Lent as we start anew our Lenten journey. After all, the previous Lent never seems to have ended. No matter how we celebrate Easter, or even if we skip it entirely, nothing can change the fact that the tomb was empty one morning long ago in ancient Jerusalem. We can't be sure what this year's Easter will look like. But we can be sure that Christians around the world will find ways to celebrate the triumph of Jesus Christ over evil, of love over sin, of life over death.

Jesus frees us from the grip of sin, and he certainly frees us from the grip of an endlessly grim Lenten journey.

At Lent Madness, we are fond of reminding people that Lent is not about misery, though it may sometimes be about fasting and self-denial. During the holy season of Lent, we "prepare with joy for the Paschal feast" as we turn our hearts and our lives toward Jesus. In that way, even in Lent, we are always suffused with joy.

This Ash Wednesday will be unlike any other. You may not even receive ashes. Fortunately, the real centerpiece of Ash Wednesday -- despite the name -- is not the mark of our mortality, but the invitation to a holy Lent, the litany of penitence, and the recitation of Psalm 51.

There are three verses of Psalm 51 that stand out to us as important this year as we contemplate the start of another Lenten journey.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, *
and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence *
and take not your holy Spirit from me.

Give me the joy of your saving help again *
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

Today we step back from the usual silliness of Lent Madness to invite you to a holy Lent. Let us all pray that we might know the joy of God's saving help and the power of God's bountiful Spirit. By God's mighty grace, there is always Resurrection.

Wishing you a blessed Lenten journey,
Tim+   Scott+

Photo by flickr user Henna K.

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The Opening Ceremonies of Lent Madness XII

The annual saintly smackdown kicks off on Thursday morning as Camillus de Lellis squares off against Matthias. We're calling this the Gamblers' Gambit, and we bet you will too. Odds favor an 8:00 am sharp kick-off on Ash Thursday, February 18. If you haven't made your bracket picks yet, head over to playlentmadness.com to enter your picks in an amazing newly-created and just-revealed online tracker!

This year, because we know you are struggling with the pandemic, we decided to add an official opening ceremony to Lent Madness XII, a.k.a. the battle for the coveted 2021 Golden Halo. Since we can't pack the Lent Dome with fans, we're holding an online Opening Ceremony. Perhaps next year, we'll hold an epic in-person event (no ticket scalping!).

For this year, our online ceremony begins with this video, courtesy of the Cathedral of Saint James in South Bend, Indiana.

The folks at St. James' have painted the amazing peg dolls you see in the video. Big shout out to the lay leaders and clergy for using Lent Madness as an invitation to learn more about the saints and to encourage discipleship whilst having fun.

Now, no sporting event can start without the singing of the national anthem. We were unable to secure Lady Gaga this year, but we DO have a fabulous pre-COVID recording of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in St. Louis, Missouri singing the Official Hymn of Lent Madness.

By the way, St. Peter's is searching for their next rector. If you know a priest who is open to a new call, tell them to check out the church website. Perhaps they can be the rector of the Lent Hymn Church™. Tell them to hurry; the deadline is today.

The Olympics usually start with an opening ceremony that lasts three or four hours. We know you're busy, so we're cutting it short. It's yet another way that Tim and Scott are caring for you, the Lent Madness global public.

Come back on Thursday morning as the saintly games begin. In the meantime, consider the Lent Madness XII games officially opened!

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Monday Madness -- Last 2021 Pre-Season Episode!

It's time for the last pre-season episode of Lent Madness 2021. Tim and Scott are back with yet another Oscar-worthy episode of Monday Madness, even if the Academy has spurned them at every turn. So dim the lights, grab some popcorn, roll out the purple carpet, and prepare to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

There's still time to study up and fill out your bracket for Lent Madness 2021. You can visit the bracket tab of the website, and if you need your Saintly Scorecard, it's still available for your Kindle. New this year, Lent Madness fan Seth Reese created a wonderful site where you can enter your bracket picks and track your progress along with Lent Madness fans around the world. Visit playlentmadness.com to enter your bracket picks! Seth is an Episcopalian and tech wizard, and if you're looking for more wizardly, check out his consulting firm, Juniper Workshop.

Get ready for the opening contest of Lent Madness which comes your way at 8:00 in the morning (Eastern time!) on Ash Thursday, February 18. It's Camillus de Lellis vs. Matthias, in the Gamblers' Gambit!


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