Sunday, February 8, 2015

How to get Fred Rogers a spot on the Lent Madness bracket

Hello, Lent Madness global reading public! For reasons known mostly to Scott Gunn, for the past several years I've had the pleasure of being a so-called Celebrity Blogger for Lent Madness. Though I admit the title earns me nothing but mockery and eye-rolling here at home.

As a long-time follower of Lent Madness, I've seen a yearly tradition arise of petitioning the Supreme
Executive Committee to put various people on the bracket, notably Fred Rogers. The problem is that, though the SEC would love to put more people on the bracket, they have established as a baseline that the contestants of Lent Madness are limited to the people who are recognized as saints in the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA). Reasonably enough.

But there is hope, Fred Rogers supporters! The liturgical calendar and our church's manner of recognizing people of faith is constantly evolving. What's more, there are definitely ways in which mere mortals such as ourselves can affect this change. I am firmly convinced that we can take steps this month to get Fred Rogers on the radar, so to speak.

Namely: Create a local commemoration of Fred Rogers for your faith community on or near the date he died, February 27!

One of the criteria given for inclusion in the Episcopal Church's calendar is local observance. I quote from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music's blog post from one year ago:
Criterion 5  Local Observance: Similarly, it should normatively be the case that significant remembrance of a particular person already exists within the Church at the local and regional levels before that person is included in the Church’s larger story.
I'm not saying the official recognition will happen this year. "Local and regional commemoration normally occurs for many years prior to national recognition," according to Lesser Feasts and Fasts. Still...if we really want Fred Rogers as part of our national collection of Holy Women and Holy Men (and in Lent Madness), it's great to take that first step.

Oh, and before you party-poopers step in and say, "A person needs to be dead for 50 years before we recognize him," I point you to last year's Lent Madness finalist Harriet Bedell who died in 1969. So unless I suddenly turned 50 without my noticing it, my basic math skills would suggest that Bedell was placed on the calendar well before her required 50 were up.

And whether or not Fred Rogers ever makes it on the bracket or in our church's official commemorations, the truth is, we will still have him as a model of gentleness and compassion. And I'm sure Mr. Rogers doesn't care about a golden halo.


Anonymous said...

Excellent idea. And Harriet wasn't the only one added in less than fifty years after dying. I've been Episcopalian for over twenty years and I do not remember a time when MLK was not on the Calendar and 1968 + 50 = 2018 and C.S. Lewis, who died 22 November 1963, was also on the Calendar in less than 50 years. Oh and don't forget the Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi, first female priest in the Anglican Communion, also added in way less than 50 years.

Alan C said...

Any suggested propers for the day? Off the top of my head I'm thinking "suffer the little children to come unto me" for the Gospel.

LTD said...

Anonymous: How funny! I'd never thought about MLK getting the special treatment. But there are certainly some people who are just such no-doubt-about-it exemplars of faith it's ridiculous to have a 50-year waiting period. I would include Fred Rogers among them.

LTD said...

Alan C: Yes, "Let the children come to me" sounds like a great choice. I keep something from Isaiah might be good, about all being welcome. That seems very Mr. Rogers-y. I shall ponder. And I'll be curious what else people suggest.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous here again . . . I'd like to add that Oscar Romero is also on the HWHM calendar and he was martyred in 1980 (the Vatican acknowledged him as a martyr in . . . 2015).