Lent Madness


The Saintly Smackdown Returns!

Are you looking for something fun to focus on? Are you longing for inspiration and joy? For the eighth year running, people of faith are gearing up for Lent Madness, the “saintly smackdown” in which thirty-two saints do battle to win the coveted Golden Halo during the season of Lent.

Click to enlarge 2017 Bracket

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.

Based loosely on the NCAA basketball tournament, this online devotion pits saints against one another in a bracket as voters choose their favorites throughout the penitential season of Lent. This year’s competition begins on “Ash Thursday,” March 2.

How to participate

Here’s how to participate: on the weekdays of Lent, information is posted at www.lentmadness.org 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.

Click to enlarge calendar

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. 2017 heavyweights include Joan of Arc, Martin Luther, Florence Nightingale, Stephen the Martyr, and Sarah the Matriarch. It also includes several intriguing matchups including Augustine of Hippo vs. Augustine of Canterbury (All-Augustine Anarchy); Fanny Crosby vs. G.F. Handel (Battle of the Bands); and Joseph Schereschewsky vs. Nikolaus von Zinzendorf (Clash of the Consonants).

The full bracket is online at the Lent Madness website www.lentmadness.org and, while not necessary to participate, you can order the Saintly Scorecard: The Definitive Guide to Lent Madness 2017 at www.forwardmovement.org. This companion guide includes biographies of all 32 saints, a full-color bracket, information about how to fully participate, and a series of Pocket Lent trading cards.

The History of Lent Madness

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.
logoStarting 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.

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.

Eleven “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; Anna Fitch Courie of Ft. Leavenworth, KS; Dr. David Creech of Morehead, MN; the Rev. Megan Castellan of Kansas City, MO; Neva Rae Fox of Somerville, NJ; the Rev. David Hansen of Woodlands, TX; Beth Lewis of Minneapolis, MN; Hugo Olaiz of Cincinnati, OH; Dr. Derek Olsen of Baltimore, MD; and the Rev. David Sibley of Manhasset, NY. 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?

3/18: Lenten Quiet Day

Saturday, March 18th
10am to 4:30pm

at The Jesuit Spiritual Center
Milford, Ohio

Why does God allow suffering?

For many of us, this is BIG God question. I’ve been wrestling with this question for decades, continuing to dig through the layers of one faithful response to the next, until my question has changed.

The “Why” question assumes suffering doesn’t belong, that it’s a problem to be fixed. But what if suffering is essential, and assumed to be a part of every life, with essential gifts to give that only manifest through suffering. What would the question become then?

If these ponderings stir you, join me for our next Quiet Day. It will be include reading, prayer and creative expression.

Cost: $35 (includes lunch and materials)

Contact Pastor Mary to RSVP.

Pre-Lenten Retreat

February 17th to 18th
The Transfiguration Spirituality Center
Wholeness is a lifelong journey. Sometimes a relationship needs repair, we need to be opened up to joy, learn how to play, release an old anger, feel our grief, or find our way home to our bodies. Every Lent is an opportunity to invite God’s healing power more deeply into our life.
Join us for a weekend that will help prepare you for a Healing Lent.
We will begin our retreat with the question: “Where could I be more whole this Lent?”
We will then explore a variety of disciplines and discern “Which discipline, if I practice it for 40 days, will welcome God’s wholeness into my life?”
We have limit of 21 single rooms, or 18 singles and 6 doubles (24 max).  Commuters are welcome.
Cost: $140/single, $125/double, includes 4 meals, room and materials

New Year’s Retreat

New Year’s Retreat

December 30th to 31st, 2016
The Jesuit Spiritual Center, Milford, Ohio

What are the Celebrations and Challenges of 2016? What new thing is God calling you to in 2017? Mark your calendars for this annual spiritual reflection on the year. We will gather at the Jesuit Spiritual Center in Milford. There is room for 8 people to spend the night, and no limit on commuters.

Cost: $50 for commuters, $100 to spend the night.

Contact Pastor Mary to claim a spot at mlaymon@stthomasepiscopal.org or (215) 630-1091

Soul Collage: Connection

Soul Collage: December 4th at 12:30pm

We are created for connection…with God, one another, ourselves. Connection requires vulnerability…allowing ourselves to be seen. Christmas is our celebration of God’s Holy Vulnerability. God’s deep longing for connection with us resulted in Jesus’ birth: Emmanuel, God with Us. What in you longs for deeper connection? What in you needs to be seen, vulnerable, to experience this connection? Your soul knows. Let it speak to you in image, and lead you home to Love.

Contact Pastor Mary to learn more: (215) 630-1091