Lent Madness is the name a priest from the US-based Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Massachusetts gave to his unusual Lent campaign. The Revd Tim Schenck says that “with its unique blend of competition, learning, and humour” his online battle of the saints will allow participants “to be inspired by the ways in which God has worked through the lives of saintly souls across generations and cultures.” Each week-day during Lent, he will pitch two saints against each other and participants can vote to decide who goes through to the next round, until a final winner is awarded the “Golden Halo”.
Information about each day’s “contestants” will be posted at lentmadness.org with each pairing open for voting for 24 hours. After reading about the two saints, participants can cast their vote. Sixteen saints will make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight of these go on to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; before the Golden Halo is awarded to the last saint standing.
“The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints,” Schenck said. “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. 2018 heavyweights include John the Evangelist, Margaret of Scotland, Richard Hooker, Katharina von Bora, and the apostles Peter and Paul.”
Schenck, the rector of St John’s Church in Hingham, Massachusetts, devised Lent Madness in 2010 as “a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women who make up the church’s calendar of saints.
In 2012, Schenck partnered with Forward Movement’s 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.”
In previous years, the campaign has featured in media outlets all over the US, including national television, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, USA Today, and Sports Illustrated. “More importantly thousands of people have been inspired by the saintly stories of those who have come before us in the faith,” he said.
“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?”
To support the initiative, the Forward Movement has published “The Saintly Scorecard: The Definitive Guide to Lent Madness 2018”. This is a companion guide which includes biographies of all 32 saints, information about how to fully participate, and a series of pocket Lent trading cards, and costs $3 USD (approximately £2.16 GBP) for a single copy, or $20 USD for packs of 10.
You can take part in Lent Madness online and you can order The Saintly Scorecard from the Forward Movement’s website.