Remember last Lent when we played Lent Madness?
Well, it's baaaack! Or at least it will be back in just a couple of weeks - beginning on "Ash Thursday," February 23. This year Lent Madness is bigger and better, with the help of Forward Movement and several more Celebrity Bloggers (you may remember that I was one of the four C.B.s who blogged the final four round last year). Lent Madness now has its own website (www.lentmadness.org) and several posts are already up about this year's tournament. Leading up to the actual beginning of Lent Madness, L.M. founder Tim Schenck and Forward Movement's Executive Director Scott Gunn will be posting a video conversation each Monday about how things are shaping up, and once the competition begins, they'll do some Monday morning quarterbacking.
Now, for those of you unfamiliar with Lent Madness (or who didn't quite get what it was all about last year), it works like this....
Well, first, maybe I should explain the name. Here in the U.S., we have something called March Madness, which is a phrase used to describe the annual NCAA college basketball national tournament. Most of this single elimination tournament takes place in March and folks from all over love to get the initial brackets with all the teams and their match-ups listed and pick winners for each round. Some of this may involve betting, which of course we do not encourage her at The Party unless the proceeds go to charity. Offices run pools (I know, that's really betting pools), as do some families (including mine!). It helps keep up interest in the games when you have a team to pull for.
OK, so what is Lent Madness? During Lent, we also have a bracket but instead of basketball teams, we have saints. You can see this year's bracket here. The purpose of this game is to help us learn more about the saints, those holy folks who have gone before. So every week day, there will be a matchup between two saints, and you go go the website and read about the two, and vote for your favorite right there on the post. At the end of the day, the polls will close and a winner will be announced who will go to the next round.
There are two ways you can play. First, you can print off a bracket, get together with some family, friends, youth group, Canterbury group, foyer group, staff.... you get it. Have everyone fill out a bracket by predicting who will will each round. Have someone keep score for the group and at the end, give a prize to the person who had the most wins.
The actual who-wins part, though, takes place on the blog. Each weekday, go to LentMadness.org and, as mentioned above, read about the saints and vote for your favorite.
And what will be on the website each day? Celebrity Bloggers (there are 8 this year - read about them here) have, for the first round, written biographies of the saints, along with a picture of some kind. This is how you'll learn about the saints. The second round, the Saintly Sixteen, will take things a little deeper - we'll offer up Quotes and Quirks about each saint still in the running. The Elate Eight round will feature Saintly Kitsch (you won't believe some of this stuff - or maybe you own some of it!). And the final four - well, that could be a saintly slugfest. With wings and haloes, of course. Because this is a devotional tool, remember.
So that's it. We've had lots of publicity this year (which you can read about on the website) and lots of folks are joining in. I hope you will, too! Like Lent Madness on Facebook. If you have your own blog or website and would like to put a Lent Madness widget (like the one on my blog) on your blog (which I hope you will do!), see how to do that here. Be sure to bookmark the site on your computer. You can sign up by email to subscribe, or you can put an icon on your iPhone or iPad, too, which will take you directly to the site from your home screen (thanks, Scott!). (To do that, go to the website on your phone or pad, and you'll see a little arrow thingy that instructs you to tap it to make an icon for your home screen.)
Our Canterbury Group at The College of William & Mary will be playing as will our youth group here at the parish. I hope your group will, too. Lent Madness really is a great way to become familiar with those heroes of the church. We may be giving up the alleluias, but we never give up learning more about our faith and tradition.