[Forward Movement] Lent Madness pits holy saints against one another in a battle to win the coveted Golden Halo. But it is more than that: Lent Madness is really an online devotional tool designed to help people learn about saints. The competition begins on Thursday, February 23.
The creator of Lent Madness, the Rev. Tim Schenck, says “My real goal in creating Lent Madness was to give people an opportunity to get to know some amazing people who have come before us in the faith. There’s no reason that a Lenten discipline should be dreary and if this helps people connect with God during this season of penitence and renewal, and have a bit of fun in the process, then it’s been worthwhile.”
The format is straightforward: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for twenty-four hours and people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Final 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. Subsequent rounds explore quotes and quirks, legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.
Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of the Rev. Tim Schenck, rector of St. John’s Church in Hingham, Massachusetts. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women comprising the Church’s Calendar of Saints, Father Schenck came up with this unique Lenten devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born on his blog “Clergy Family Confidential.”
This year Schenck has partnered with Forward Movement Executive Director Scott Gunn to create a dedicated website www.lentmadness.org and broaden the number of people involved in the selection and writing process. Eight “celebrity bloggers” have been tapped to write for the project including Dr. Meredith Gould, the Rev. Penny Nash, the Rev. Bosco Peters, Canon Heidi Shott, the Rev. Adam Thomas, the Rev. Laura Toepfer, the Rev. Neil Alan Willard, and the Rev. Chris Yaw. Information about each of the celebrity bloggers is available on the Lent Madness website.
This year’s heavyweights include Joan of Arc, the apostle Paul, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Mary Magdalene, Thomas Merton, Catherine of Siena, Nicholas, Thomas Cranmer, and Augustine of Hippo.
Visit www.lentmadness.org to view the full bracket of saints, learn about the contributors, and, starting on February 23, to vote.
Forward Movement has worked since 1935 to bring vitality and spiritual health to the church. Based in Cincinnati, OH, Forward Movement is widely known for Forward Day by Day. Lent Madness is one of many ways that Forward Movement hopes to encourage people of faith to live faithfully throughout their lives. Forward Movement is a ministry of The Episcopal Church.