The NCAA basketball tournament, or “March Madness”, as it is known, is a passion of millions of men and women across the country. College students routinely skip classes to track their favorite teams. In the workplace people watch surreptitiously at their desks; however, many desks are empty because employees are, as they claim, “working from home”.
While gamblers and sports bars profit from this seasonal phenomenon, the overall economy takes a $1.8 billion hit from low productivity and absenteeism. Yet it is all in good fun, and college deans and business managers try to view the obvious shirking of normal responsibilities as a healthy diversion from the late winter blahs; a morale booster that does more good than harm.
To mitigate the grim and challenging weeks of Lent, we Christians can engage in “Lenten Madness”, thanks to Forward Movement Publications. It is a tournament of Saints, brackets and all, winners advance by popular vote, and the trophy is a “Golden Halo”. It is a morale booster to guard against taking ourselves so seriously that we become depressed for the duration of Lent. Go to https://www.lentmadness.com and have some fun.
It isn’t really necessary to wear “hair shirts” or undergo various means of punishment to have a good and holy Lent. Personally, I am a bit more disciplined during this period which usually leads to a more favorable reading on the bathroom scale. The goal is not to suffer or submit to fervent self-denial; it is to re-fuel the engine of faith and re-examine our relationship with God.
Yes, it is good to empty ourselves of those things that interfere with that relationship so that we may be filled with the same love and grace of the Holy Spirit that upheld Jesus on the cross.
Jesus has already done the work. Salvation is our destiny and we have nothing to prove but our gratitude. So find a book, keep a journal, pray the Daily Office, meditate, vote for and learn about your favorite Saints. Turn to your passions – whether sports, saints, scripture, or song – and let the madness drive you on to Calvary and beyond. Bishop Curry calls us “Crazy Christians” for a reason.