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Soon March Madness will be upon us. And much as we love the Wildcats, let’s be serious: is there anything more ridiculous than the spectacle of grown men (and women) cheering, weeping, screaming, cursing, and otherwise abandoning their dignity for the sake of their favorite team?

As a matter of fact, there is. How about pitting saints against each other in one-on-one elimination rounds as they vie for the coveted Golden Halo?

Welcome to Lent Madness!

Inspired by the close proximity in time of March Madness to Lent each year, Lent Madness is the brainchild of self-professed sports fanatic the Rev. Tim Schenck, Rector of St. John the Evangelist Church just outside Boston; it first appeared in his blog Clergy Family Confidential in 2010. The idea was to develop a Lenten devotion that was an entertaining way to introduce Episcopalians to the holy men and women the church recognizes. As the Lent Madness website explains:

“The format is straightforward: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time 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 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.”

By the way, if a participant gets the entire bracket correct, he or she automatically gets into Heaven, no matter what heinous acts they commit for the rest of their lives! Nah—just kidding. But hey, if Warren Buffett is offering a billion dollars for the perfect March Madness bracket, acing the Lent Madness bracket ought to be worth something really swell, right??

LM2014bracket

It’s easy to get in on the action. Just go on the Lent Madness web site. Start looking at the biographical data for this year’s slate of saints. The online voting begins on Thursday, March 6 (the day after Ash Wednesday, which I now unofficially name Bracket Thursday on the liturgical calendar henceforth). You can also like Lent Madness on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.

No matter where you are or what your style on the spiritual path, whether you drive the lane or are more of a perimeter shooter, let Lent Madness help you follow the saints and join your fellow Episcopal teammates as you progress toward Easter.

—Cynthia Kartman
Winter Member from Milwaukee

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