These last two play-off games have been quite exciting. The first was almost surreal with how well they seemed to play; and the second one, VERY intense.
Something that has impressed me about the team and the fans, is the sense of connection between the two, and the sense of giving of oneself for the other.
I’ve heard team members such as Drew Brees and Reggie Bush say that part of the reason they wanted to come to New Orleans was to help the city “come back” after Katrina.
They, as well as many other team members and the coaches, seem to be giving of themselves for us; not only on the field, but off. One of the Saints players even called my brother-in-law, Craig Cuccia, because he wanted to have a charity auction to support Craig’s non-profit New Orleans Cafe Reconcile, which aids the poor in New Orleans. And, sure enough, about 20 of the Saints team members played part in the auction and raised a lot of money for the poor of our city. Not to mention the many other ways the players help us.
On the other side of the coin, we, the Saint’s fans, are clearly going all out in our various ways, to give of ourselves in support of the team. Coach Peyton and others have referred to the fans’ support, commitment and encouragement as nothing they’ve ever experienced before.
They have said that it has had a profound impact on them, encouraging them to be the best that they can be.
Even Sunday night as Drew Brees held up the trophy, he said that they couldn’t do it without the support of the fans to encourage them.
A friend of mine who went to a recent game in the dome said she could feel the camaraderie taking place between the team and its fans; the team playing for the fans, and the fans lifting the team up in support, and hopefully prayer.
I think we can experience a certain taste of the charism of “communion” among the team and its fans. A charism that we see lived out fully and sacrificially among the communion of the Saints of God, after which the New Orleans Saints were named (I think the Heavenly Saints are interceding). Where other teams may have a Colt, a Viking, a Bronco, a Ram, etc, as the mascot to represent them, we here in Louisiana actually have the living Saints of Heaven representing us. It is no coincidence. And it’s obvious that God is about a mighty work among us, and the Saints of Heaven are a part of it.
Some of you may have heard of the analogy of Heaven and Hell both being like a huge banquet of luscious food, where the members in each setting is given a three foot fork which they can only use to feed each other.
In Heaven, everyone is so happy, joy-filled and satisfied, because they are all so concerned about feeding one another, that everyone eats and is cared for.
In hell, everyone is miserable, angry and hungry, because they are only concerned about themselves and their own needs, and they’re too selfish to try to feed one another.
The first scenario is what we are called to strive to have with one another.
May we all have the grace during this post-season and beyond, to experience more than just a football game, win or lose. May we allow this experience to draw us deeper into the camaraderie and communion that is being formed among us as a great state – having concern for and giving of ourselves for one-another. And, may it draw us even deeper still, as a we seek to recapture our rich Catholic/Christian heritage of “sinners striving to be saints.” May we turn to the one person, Jesus Christ, who gave of Himself TOTALLY and unconditionally, for each and every one of us, and who is our model in loving and supporting one another, as He tells us, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
For, our communion can only be deep and lasting to the degree that we have it in the Spirit of Christ.
+Lord, bless our beloved Saints players with all the graces they most need to live with and for You alone. Bless them with the graces to play the best they can for the Super bowl playoffs. And, we call upon all the Heavenly Saints to intercede for them, for all the fans, and for our whole State, Nation and World, that we may turn to God as our great Coach for the game of life. Mary, Queen of all Saints, pray for us!+