If you have no idea what I’m talking about… let me explain. Lent Madness is a light-hearted Lenten journey with the saints. Every weekday during Lent, from the day after Ash Wednesday to the day before Holy Thursday, you’ll find a post on the Lent Madness website with some information about the two saints who are matched against each other that day, along with a poll where you can cast your vote and a comment thread for sharing your thoughts on the saints, lobbying, dithering, and just generally carrying on in company together. The 64 saints are paired up for elimination contests through the Round of Thirty-Two, the Saintly Sixteen, the Elate Eight, and the Faithful Four until the final round for the Golden Halo.
There’s also this bracket… thing, which those of you who follow basketball and know about March Madness will understand better than I do! Basically you can print out the bracket and fill out your picks for the winner of each match, then see how you did at the end. There’s a scoring scheme (which implies you could actually win Lent, which is kind of a fun concept all by itself!), and your parish or school can also suggest an optional donation per bracket as a charity fundraiser. You can even get a poster-sized bracket to post in the parish hall.
I played along last year, and it was not only a lot of fun – it was a great opportunity to learn more about saints I’d never heard of or knew little about, in good company with others who were doing the same thing. The comment threads turned out to be a highlight of the event for me, as people talked about why they’d voted as they had, with reasons ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous all welcomed and accepted as part of the journey. I’m looking forward to it this year, too.
Just one more thing I should mention: as this event is organized by members of the Episcopal Church, not all the saints drawn from their Calendar of Saints are recognized by the Catholic Church as canonized saints. But all of them are sisters and brothers who have gone before us, whose lives and stories are worth remembering.
I invite all my readers to join me in playing along this year. After all, what better way to leaven Lent and prepare for the joy of Easter than by partying with the saints?