You don't have to be a football fan to watch in wonder of the goings on in New Orleans, La tonight. The talk of the town, and maybe the nation too, has been the NFL New Orleans Saints, undefeated after 10 football games. If you have lived down here for any number of years or you just like to follow sports, you know the Saints have had a pretty dismal overall record for 40 + years. Of course we had those glorious years in the late 80's and early 90's and then that first elusive playoff victory in 2000. And then we experienced that magical season that took the Saints just one game shy of the Super Bowl in 2007 after the '06 season, as the entire area continued to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
Just like that 2006 team, this 2009 edition of the Saints has made New Orleans happy and proud and has given many something to smile about as recovery continues. Those most die-hard of fans truly believe that this may be the year, that no one can beat them and there beloved Saints are by far the best. And we all hope this is true.
But unlike any other community, the Saints mean so much more to New Orleans than just wins and losses. The Saints help shape our identity. They are a sports example of recovery and renewal. They help all of us understand that no matter what comes along and knocks us down, we can survive, live for another day and win!
Don't get me wrong, if the Saints would somehow drop a game or two this year, we will hear from those long suffering folks who will be so disappointed. But if indeed they loose a game, we should marvel at what this team has meant to us and what it continues to mean to the community.
The build up for this game, around the rest of the world just the 11th game of the season, has become legend. There is more celebration, partying and joy in the Crescent City tonight then most cities experience when they actually win a championship. And if you can't understand that, you probably don't get jazz, and crawfish, and Mardi Gras, and Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler!! That's ok, come on down this way and we will help try to explain it.
And don't forget, this is a team steeped in Catholic tradition too. The name comes from their birthday, All Saints Day in 1966. The name had to get the blessing from the Catholic Archbishop of New Orleans at the time, the amazing Philip Hannan. And just last night one of our own diocesan Priests, Fr. Tony Ricard, went and celebrated Mass and prayed with the players, coaches and staff.
As you watch the game tonight, or follow the Saints for the rest of this year, keep in mind this is bigger than football, of wins and losses. This is a team that is helping lead a recovery that hopefully one day will restore one of America's great cities and surrounding communities to the greatness enjoyed pre-Katrina. So keep praying for our community, to those who still need help and those that have come here to help. And always invoke the litany of the Saints, as our New Orleans Saints go marching in.
Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 5/26
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