Win a FREE mug!

As the Lent Madness global public knows, the Supreme Executive Committee is very concerned about the health and well-being of fans around the globe. In the next few days, a lot happens. Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week, is coming right up. People in the US are facing down an April 15 deadline for tax filing. And your allergies might be going crazy with spring.

Frances Perkins mugThat’s why we are giving away THREE mugs. You can use these for coffee or any other warm beverage, especially coffee (have we mentioned recently that the SEC is fueled by single-origin, fairly traded black coffee?). Rumor has it these mugs work equally well with tea, though scones are sold separately. We have three Frances Perkins mugs available.

As you’ll remember, Frances Perkins won the Golden Halo in 2013. She was a lay leader in the Episcopal Church and also served as Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, the first woman to serve in the US Cabinet. These are literally the last three Frances Perkins Golden Halo mugs in existence and are major collector’s items in the world of Lent Madness tchotchkes.

Here’s how you can win your free mug. Head over to the Facebook page of our sponsor, Forward Movement. In addition to the Lent Madness Facebook page, we hope you like the Forward Movement Facebook page. Anyway, once you get there, you’ll see a post from today (April 10) inviting you to like and share the post, along with a comment, story, or photo about your favorite saint. Do what that post says. Remember, like and share the Facebook post from the Forward Movement Facebook page to enter to win.

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William Wilberforce vs. Pandita Ramabai

Yesterday, on the first day of the Elate Eight, Martha of Bethany left Photini high and dry 58% to 42% to become the first saint to reach the elusive and exclusive Faithful Four.

Today William Wilberforce meets Pandita Ramabai. To reach the Elate Eight, Wilberforce bested Agatha Lin Zhao and Richard Allen, while Ramabai defeated Damien of Molokai and Marguerite d’Youville. For all the previous rounds’ highlights, click the Bracket tab.

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Martha of Bethany vs. Photini

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. No, Virginia, Santa Claus will not be advancing in Lent Madness 2019. That’s because yesterday, in a shocking upset that rocked the North Pole, Zenaida defeated Nicholas of Myra 59% to 41% to claim the final spot in the Elate Eight. (Also, Virginia, congratulations on winning yesterday’s national championship in that other brackets-based tournament).

We started with 32 saints and 3/4 of them have been cast out, hanging their halos in shame. Okay, that’s not how it works – we’re pretty sure the saints themselves don’t actually care about our little Lenten game of learning. And each and every one of them has already received their own crown of righteousness. Nonetheless, welcome to the Elate Eight.

Who remains? Well, Zenaida joins Martha of Bethany, Photini, Ignatius of Loyola, Gobnait, John Chrysostom, William Wilberforce, and Pandita Ramabai. One of these remaining eight will be awarded the coveted 2019 Golden Halo.

Things kick off with two Biblical heavyweights as Martha of Bethany takes on Photini. To make it to this point, Martha defeated Mary of Bethany and Nicodemus, while Photini took down Ananias and Tabitha. Don’t forget to click the Bracket tab and scroll down to be reminded of what was written about these two in the earlier rounds.

The Elate Eight is also known as the Round of Saintly Kitsch. After basic biographies, quirks and quotes, what else could there be? Now, there are always some folks who take offense to this approach — we call them Kitsch Kranks. Please remember that this round is not meant to belittle or demean our saintly heroes but to have some fun and gaze in wide wonder at the breadth of devotional practice. So kindly relax and enjoy the spirit of the Madness as we push ever onward toward our goal.

For more about all things Lent Madness, tune in to yesterday’s edition of Monday Madness, if for some unknown reason you missed it. This week, among other things, Tim and Scott share the First and Great Commandments of Lent Madness.

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Monday Madness — Kitsch Krank Edition

As the giant purple Lenten clock ticks down to the start of the Elate Eight — aka the Round of Saintly Kitsch — Tim and Scott share their annual warning about Kitsch Kranks, the people who just can’t get on board with this level of fun and frivolity.

In this week’s episode of Monday Madness, you’ll get a reminder of the First and Second Great Commandments of Lent Madness, but also the reminder that if you want the facts about saints, you can always revisit the basic biographies of the first round or the quirks and quotes of the Saintly Sixteen by clicking the Bracket Tab.

The SEC also celebrates the naming of St. Anna’s Episcopal Church, a new church born out of the merger of two congregations. Inspired by the 2018 Golden Halo winner, Anna Alexander, they chose the name St. Anna’s. We shared this story in a special post.

Also, if you want to hear the rare instance where Scott accidentally called Tim a “friend”, tune into Scott’s interview with Sandra T. Montes on her Lenten podcast. He also talks about Lent, “go big or go home” liturgy, and his journey into the Episcopal Church. If you need to cleanse your palate after listening, you can read Tim’s new book while you sip some coffee.

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Zenaida vs. Nicholas of Myra

Congratulations! You survived another weekend devoid of voting. We realize this can cause Itchy Mouse Finger Syndrome (IMFS) for which we recommend sleeping all weekend. But, sleepers wake! For it is time to begin the last FULL week of Lent Madness 2019.

As a reminder, on Friday, Gobnait washed away Paula of Rome 73% to 27% to reach the Elate Eight, where she’ll face Ignatius of Loyola.

Today, in the final matchup of the Saintly Sixteen, Zenaida faces Nicholas of Myra with the last remaining spot in the Elate Eight on the line. After today we bid farewell to Quotes & Quirks and set our minds upon the Saintly Kitsch of the Elate Eight. Stay tuned later today for another exciting episode of Monday Madness as Tim and Scott break it all down.

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Gobnait vs. Paula of Rome

In yesterday’s Saintly Sixteen pairing, Pandita Ramabai trounced Marguerite d’Youville 62% to 38% to advance to the Elate Eight vs. William Wilberforce. And, yes, Pandita, much like the Grinch, stole Lent from all the d’Yous down in d’Youville.

Today’s battle features Gobnait vs. Paula of Rome for a chance to square off against Ignatius of Loyola in the Elate Eight. While you may think there is scant evidence about the lives of either of these saints, you can always check back to their earlier matchups to help fill in the gaps. Gobnait defeated Hrotsvitha and Paula of Rome bested Marcella of Rome.

This also marks the final matchup of another wild and wacky week of loony Lenten learning. We’ll be back first thing Monday morning for the final battle of the Elate Eight as Zenaida faces Nicholas as Myra. Then it’s on to the next round!

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Marguerite d’Youville vs. Pandita Ramabai

In yesterday’s Biblical battle, Photini defeated Tabitha 58% to 42%, setting up an intriguing Elate Eight matchup with Martha of Bethany.

Today it’s Canadian vs. Indian as Marguerite d’Youville faces Pandita Ramabai. You’ll recall that Pandita made it this far by barely sneaking past Damien of Molokai in the closest ever Lent Madness vote, while Marguerite upset(?) Phillips Brooks.

In other Lent Madness news, we shared the incredible story of two merging California congregations who decided to name their community St. Anna’s, after last year’s Golden Halo winner Anna Alexander.

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Golden Halo Winner Inspires New Church Name

We love hearing stories about the ways Lent Madness makes a difference, and we have quite a story to share today. As you might have seen from coverage in Episcopal News Service, the Anglican Communion News Service, the Episcopal Cafe, or the Living Church, there’s a new church in California. Two Episcopal congregations merged, and they wanted to begin their new life together under a new name.

Inspired by 2018 Golden Halo winner Anna Alexander, they have chosen to call themselves St. Anna’s Episcopal Church. Here’s the release their rector, the Rev. Jill Honodel, sent us. We at Lent Madness HQ pray that this new community has a flourishing ministry in which lives are transformed through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Antioch, California – Sunday, in a much-anticipated liturgy, the words of the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of the Diocese of California, soared through the air, “It is my delight to authorize with the consent of the Standing Committee the organization of St. George’s and St. Alban’s into a new bishop’s congregation with the name of St. Anna’s Episcopal Church.”

St. Anna's signWith those words read by Canon to the Ordinary Abbott Bailey, the first Episcopal Church in the nation to be named after St. Anna Alexander was created. A community celebration is planned for July 21.

Anna Ellison Butler Alexander is a new saint in the Episcopal tradition whose Feast Day is on September 24th and will be included in the next edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts. She came to the attention of St. George’s, Antioch, and St. Alban’s, Brentwood, during last year’s Lent Madness, Forward Movement’s version of March Madness with saints “competing” in the brackets. St. Anna “won” the Golden Halo, six months before General Convention reaffirmed her sainthood in July. Born shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Anna Alexander devoted her life to the service of others by providing much needed education and literacy to the children of those formerly enslaved. Despite the segregation of the Episcopal Church at the time, she became the first African American Deaconess in the Episcopal Church.

The new congregation has parishioners who hail directly from Uganda, Liberia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Korea, Mexico, Canada, Holland, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Bermuda and Ghana among others. The Rev. Jill Honodel, Long-Term Supply Priest said, “We were so inspired by Anna’s story of the pouring out her life for the sake of those formerly enslaved; despite having little resources she managed over time to build a school as well as a church to help people succeed through literacy. Educational segregation exists right here in our neighborhood in that only 9% of the African American boys pass their math through high school. We are inspired by St. Anna to do our part so that as many people as possible have a chance to succeed and the opportunity for a good future.” When parishioner Betty Smith saw the saint’s photo on the front cover of Sunday’s bulletin, she said, “It was good to come to church this morning and to see a saint of the church that looks like me. I’m really thankful that God has given this to me in my time.”

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Tabitha vs. Photini

In yesterday’s matchup between the Golden Mouthed John Chrysostom and the Harp of the Holy Spirit Ephrem of Nisibis, the bishop plucked the deacon 74% to 26% to advance to the Elate Eight.

Today, we’re back up to the Biblical quadrant of the bracket as Tabitha takes on Photini. The winner of this battle will meet Martha of Bethany in what promises to be a bruising Elate Eight pairing.

Yesterday, we also celebrated the release of Tim’s new book on coffee and faith, titled Holy Grounds: The Surprising Connection between Coffee and Faith – From Dancing Goats to Satan’s Drink. It makes a terrific gift for everyone on your Lent list! And, yes, even tea drinkers will find it a compelling read.

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Holy Grounds Book Launch!

As everybody knows, Lent Madness goes together with coffee like…saints go together with brackets. Well, today is a big day, as it’s the official release day for Lent Madness creator Tim Schenck’s new book on coffee and faith!

In Holy Grounds: The Surprising Connection between Coffee and Faith – From Dancing Goats to Satan’s Drink (Fortress Press), Tim serves up his usual dollop of wit with a side of inspiration. And, as it makes the perfect Lent gift for all your family and friends, we encourage the Lent Madness faithful to buy multiple copies for everyone on your Lent list this year. 

About the Book: 
If you like your coffee with a bit of inspiration, a hint of humor, and a dose of insight, you’ll enjoy pouring a mug full of java and curling up with Holy Grounds. Popular author and avid coffee drinker Tim Schenck brews just the right blend of the personal and historical as he explores the sometimes amusing and often profound intersection between faith and coffee.

From the coffee bean’s discovery by ninth-century Ethiopian Muslims to being condemned as “Satan’s drink” by medieval Christians, to becoming an integral part of Passover in America, coffee has fueled prayer and shaped religious culture for generations.

In Holy Grounds, Schenck explores the relationship between coffee and religion, moving from faith-based legends that have become entwined with the history of coffee to personal narrative. He takes readers on a journey through coffee farms in Central America, a pilgrimage to Seattle, coffeehouses in Rome, and a monastic community in Pennsylvania.

Along the way, he examines the power of ritual, mocks bad church coffee, introduces readers to the patron saint of coffee, wonders about ethical considerations for today’s faith-based coffee lovers, and explores lessons people of faith should learn from coffeehouse culture about building healthy, authentic community.

Still Not Convinced?
We get it. Don’t listen to us. Listen to people whose opinion you might actually respect. Like these three amazing people who shockingly agreed to write back cover blurbs for Holy Grounds (we’re pretty sure they really did read it first):

With deep research, a genuine love and devotion for the subject, and just enough of that characteristic snark to keep it funny, Schenck takes the novice and the aficionado alike on a coffee journey that will leave you craving not only coffee but the connections in community that have made its enjoyment so transformative for thousands of years.
Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Episcopal Bishop of Indianapolis

Schenck teaches us about the justice and history and taste of coffee so we can taste the true gift of being alive in God’s amazing creation. Buy the book, read it over a cup, and share your new appreciation of one of the oldest and most common beverages with a friend.
Becca Stevens, Author of The Way of Tea and Justice & Founder of Thistle Farms

Holy Grounds goes down as smooth as a great cup of coffee should. A must-read for any over-caffeinated history lover!
  -Mokhtar Alkhanshali, The Monk of Mokha

Still Dubious?
Take advantage of Amazon’s Look Inside feature to read a few sample pages. Then, if you’re still not convinced this is the book for you, you can always go back to drinking bad coffee out of styrofoam cups in dimly lit church basements while reading back issues of no-longer-published church magazines.

About Tim:
Tim Schenck is an Episcopal priest, author of five books full of faith and humor, syndicated columnist, and creator of the popular online devotion Lent Madness. He serves as pastor of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Hingham, Massachusetts. When not tending to his congregation, writing, or drinking coffee (often simultaneously), Tim enjoys life with his wife, Bryna, two teenage sons and the family’s two dogs. Follow him on Twitter @FatherTim.