John Chrysostom vs. Margaret of Cortona

Welcome back for the first FULL WEEK of Lent Madness 2019. If you’re just joining in the fun, we’re glad you’re here! There’s plenty of madness to go and we’re delighted to have people jump aboard the purple Lenten train at any point in the season.

Over the weekend, in the only Saturday battle of the season, Ignatius of Loyola strode past Tikhon of Zadonsk 65% to 35% to advance to the Saintly Sixteen, where he’ll face the winner of Dominic vs. Marina the Monk.

Today we make our first foray into the Miscellaneous quadrant of the bracket as John Chrysostom faces Margaret of Cortona. Perhaps we should have had a play-in round to decide, once and for all, whether the correct pronunciation of “Chrysostom” should have the accent on the first or second syllable. But however you pronounce it, this should prove an intriguing battle to kick off your Monday.

And don’t forget, later today, in order to make your Monday complete, Tim and Scott will be releasing another epic episode of everyone’s favorite penitential viewing experience: Monday Madness. Stay tuned! (or just binge-watch old episodes).

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Ignatius of Loyola vs. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Welcome to the one and only Saturday matchup of Lent Madness 2019. Grab your coffee, cook up some Eggs St. Benedict, read about some saintly souls, and cast the third and final vote of the week. But first, an update on yesterday’s battle: William Wilberforce forced his way past Agatha Lin Zhao 59% to 41% to advance to the Saintly Sixteen, where he’ll square off against the winner of Hannah Grier Coome vs. Richard Allen.

Don’t forget, our online bracket is updated and filled in with the latest results each morning by Adam Thomas (along with his inimitable headlines) on our Bracket Page. This will come in especially handy in later rounds when you need a quick reference guide to refresh your memory on the brilliant earlier write-ups provided by our Celebrity Bloggers. If you’re curious about when your favorite saint will be competing, you can scroll down on the bracket page to check out the invaluable and handy Matchup Calendar.

Today we take our first stab at the Monastics & Martyrs side of the Bracket as Ignatius of Loyola faces off against Tikhon of Zadonsk. And we should note that, in a Lent Madness scheduling quirk, Distinguished Celebrity Blogger Megan Castellan has had a saint doing battle on the first three days of this new season – Mary, Wilberforce, and Tikhon. Whew!

So, go vote, don’t forget to set your clocks ahead an hour tonight, go to church on Sunday, (where you’ll tell everyone at coffee hour to join in the fun over at Lent Madness), and we’ll see you bright and early Monday morning as John Chrysostom squares off against Margaret of Cortona.

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William Wilberforce vs. Agatha Lin Zhao

Congratulations! You survived the very first day of Lent Madness 2019. Which is more than we can say for Mary of Bethany, who was bounced by her sister Martha 58% to 42%. Martha becomes our first saint to qualify for the Saintly Sixteen, where she’ll face the winner of James the Greater vs. Nicodemus.

You should also congratulate yourself for having participated in a record setting day in the annals of Lent Madness history. Yesterday’s sibling matchup received nearly 10,500 votes, with over 500 comments, and more page views than we’ve ever had on a single day (almost 39,000, for those keeping score at home). And, despite a few shaky moments, you didn’t crash the server!

Today, in saintly action it’s William Wilberforce, the 18th century English abolitionist and reformer, squaring off against Agatha Lin Zhao, Chinese Christian and educator.

Don’t forget that tomorrow is the ONLY SATURDAY MATCHUP of Lent Madness 2019. After Ignatius of Loyola faces Tikhon of Zadonsk, voting will strictly take place on the weekdays of Lent, giving everyone a needed breather from the intensity of everyone’s favorite online Lenten devotion.

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Mary of Bethany vs. Martha of Bethany

After a full year of holy anticipation, Lent Madness returns for another season of saintly thrills and spills! Whether this is your tenth year engaging in the annual saintly smackdown or your first, we’re delighted you’ll be spending a portion of your Lenten journey among us. Along the way there will be debates, ire, angst, rejoicing, laughter, and holy trash talking. Just remember, it’s all in the spirit of this holy season specifically set aside to grow closer to God through our relationship with Jesus Christ.

To experience the fullness of the Lent Madness experience, the Supreme Executive Committee encourages you to do several things. First, like Lent Madness on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter. Second, subscribe to the Lent Madness e-mails so you never miss a vote. You can do this by going to the home page of our website and entering your e-mail address (near the top right). Third, you can support the ministry of Lent Madness by heading over to the Lentorium and purchasing Lent Madness swag.

But mostly, we encourage you to read about the 32 saintly souls participating in this year’s edition of Lent Madness, faithfully cast your (single!) vote on the weekdays of Lent, and add your comments to the great cloud of participating witnesses that gathers as the online Lent Madness community each year.

Lent Madness 2019, or Lent Madness X as we’ve been calling it, kicks off with a battle between two Biblical heavyweights as we settle, once and for all, the age old question: Mary vs. Martha. And before you say it, of course it’s not fair! It’s not called Lent Madness for nothing.

So, hang onto your halos, friends, and prepare yourselves for another wild ride of saintly action. Away we go!

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Lent is an Invitation

Dear friends in Christ,

On this one day a year, even Lent Madness pauses to reflect on our life, our blessings, and our mortality. The entire season of Lent is an invitation to recommit to following Jesus. This day, Ash Wednesday, is a poignant reminder that life is short. We are meant to savor our earthly life and to live it well.

kid with ashesAt the end of life, few people regret not having worked more, nor do they wish they had spent more money on stuff. In fact, end of life regrets usually revolve around love. “I wish I had spent more time with my family. I wish I had forgiven the person who wronged me. I wish I had been a more faithful Christian.”

Ash WednesdayWhen we kneel before the altar and hear the words, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” we are reminded that we are mortal. We should not delay our decision to repent, to live more fully, to follow Jesus more faithfully.

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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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Monday Madness — Celebrity Blogger Day Eve Edition

In this week’s edition of Monday Madness, Tim and Scott come to you live on the eve of Celebrity Blogger Day (a.k.a. #ShroveBloggerDay). Scott is at the chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary (what’s he doing there? tune in to find out!), which features an almost-golden halo over the altar. Tim shows off his Ash Thursday Bounty, and there’s STILL time in the episode to preview the kickoff of Lent Madness 2019, coming up later this week!

By the way, even though they didn’t mention the Lentorium on air (a first in modern Monday Madness history), you can still shop there. Or you can head straight over to Amazon to get the Saintly Scorecard 2019 for your Kindle device. But if you don’t want to spend money, no worries. Just visit the bracket page, print out your bracket, and make your picks for this year’s action-packed line-up.

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Monday Madness — February 25, 2019

Friends, it’s time for a brand-new episode of Monday Madness, featuring what Lent Madness historians believe is the first-ever double video post! Yes, brace yourselves, settle in with a giant cauldron of popcorn, and enjoy TWO videos embedded in this single post.

This week on Monday Madness, Tim and Scott discuss their shock at having once again been passed over for an Academy Award. Still, they soldier on, sharing Lenten joy and sanctoral smackdowns the world over.

Despite their dejection and outright rejection, Tim and Scott are pleased to share what is perhaps the definitive recording of the Official Lent Madness Hymn. You may recall that the Lent Madness global viewing public chose among three options penned by Hymn Writer in Residence Sr. Diana. A new version of “The glory of these forty days” is now the Official Hymn of Lent Madness. We’re grateful to organist & director of music David Sinden and rector Fr. Luke Jernagan — and their whole congregation — for offering this wonderful recording from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in St. Louis, Missouri. We’re also pleased to see that at St. Peter’s, as at churches in all of Christendom, nobody sits in the first few pews.

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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 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 and, while not necessary to participate, you can order The Saintly Scorecard: The Definitive Guide to Lent Madness 2019 at 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?

Monday Madness — February 4, 2019

It’s hard to believe, but it’s already been a week since the last episode of Monday Madness. Time flies when you’re anticipating Lent! (Speaking of which, if you haven’t already done so, you should forget about Game of Thrones and binge-watch all eight seasons of Monday Madness right now.)

Anyway, Scott and Tim are back with another compelling episode of must-see pre-Lenten TV. This week, they share the results of the first-ever three-option vote on Lent Madness, in which the global viewing public chose the new Official Hymn of Lent Madness.

Before we get to the results, now would be a good time to remind you to load up on special Lent Madness items, including the commemorative Tenth Anniversary Edition of the Saintly Scorecard. Just like last year, we are selling the scorecards individually or in packs of 10. To get the best price order three or more packs of 10, for an unbelievably low price of just $1 per scorecard. You’ll also want to buy the astonishing 2019 Giant Bracket Posters. They’re a steal at just $11. There’s no extra charge for the full color printing, and they get cheaper. It’s only $10 each when you buy two or more. Why not get an even dozen?

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