Lent Madness Parish Interview: Mary O’Shaughnessy
March 10, 2015 § 2 Comments
[SLITF Editor]: How did you come up with the idea for St. Luke’s to participate in Lent Madness?
[Mary O’Shaughnessy]: “Once upon a midnight dreary,
While I pondered, weak and weary,”
Oh, wait. Wrong context.
Well, I was hanging out in some dark, loud Bronx dive with this troublemaker on the vestry, and we got to talking about education and encouraging St. Lukers to learn more about the wider Church. The stories about saints are the “family album” of the Christian community, but not everyone comes from saint-familiar backgrounds. Lent Madness seemed perfect for encouraging people to go Google unfamiliar saint names.
Can I say here how happy I am my parents didn’t name me Hadewijch?
[SLITF Editor]: Tell us about the bracket in the Church. Where is it and what does it mean?
[Mary O’Shaughnessy]: The bracket is hanging in the school dining room, on the bulletin board to your left as you come in. It can also be printed out from here for your own home enjoyment: http://www.lentmadness.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/LM2015Bracket308.jpg It’s this year’s collection of 32 saints, which have been picked from the many thousands of people that Christians across time have found to be particularly holy in one way or another.
Most weekdays in Lent, one pair of saints appears on the Lent Madness blog for public voting. On the St. Luke’s blog, St. Lukers (well, we don’t check IP addresses or emails, so theoretically anyone can vote there too) vote for our favorite. The next day we get to see how in- or out-of-sync we are with the Madness voters.
Each “winner” of a voting pair moves up a round, through the Saintly 16, Elate 8, Faithful 4, and finally the winner grabs The Golden Halo. They are retired from future Madness competitions.
During the year, the Supreme Executive Committee (http://www.lentmadness.org/tim-and-scott/) graciously accept suggestions of saints from οἱπολλοί and then make selections.
[SLITF Editor]: When did you first find out about Lent Madness?
[Mary O’Shaughnessy]: I first read about it in 2013, so I was not an early adopter, and so I will probably be embarrassed about that failure for as long as I continue in this earthly life. I voted faithfully for Luke, our patron, until he was finally knocked out of the Golden Halo round by Frances Perkins, fercryinoutloud.
[SLITF Editor]: How do you think Lent Madness can help with our Lenten journeys?
[Mary O’Shaughnessy]: Ambrose Bierce nailed it when he wrote this entry in his gem, The Devil’s Dictionary (compiled ca. 1881-1906):
SAINT, n. A dead sinner revised and edited.
The Duchess of Orleans relates that the irreverent old calumniator, Marshal Villeroi, who in his youth had known St. Francis de Sales, said, on hearing him called saint: “I am delighted to hear that Monsieur de Sales is a saint. He was fond of saying indelicate things, and used to cheat at cards. In other respects he was a perfect gentleman, though a fool.
Saints started out just like us. Now they’re dead, of course—that’s one of the requirements for being regarded as a saint in the “Church Triumphant.” But because they were “just like us”, they sinned, they had, uh, quirks, crappy days (and sometimes crappy years and decades), and still followed Jesus through it all. The stories of saints’ lives give us encouragement to keep plowing through the mud, keeping our eyes on our Savior.
[SLITF Editor]: Who do you think will win the Golden Halo?
[Mary O’Shaughnessy]: Francis, 2:1.
More to read:
On Sunday, peruse the calendar at the front of the Book of Common Prayer. Bold days are major feasts (and two fasts—Ash Wednesday and GoodFriday). The regular-weight names are commemorations.
Also take a look at some of the Episcopal Church’s resources for commemorating saints:
2009 Holy Women, Holy Men: https://www.diobeth.org/Customer-Content/WWW/CMS/files/How_We_Serve/Worship/HolyWomenHolyMen-1.pdf