From the Pastor – February 14, 2010

Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man. (Lk 6:20-23)

It’s hard to argue with the joy that we’ve experienced over the last week. I still have a hard time saying it without laughing: The Saints Won the Super Bowl!!

It seems that since Katrina, we have needed a symbol for the “renaissance” of our city. It could have come from the outpouring of support we received from people living outside of the state, or even from the revamping of our own city government. It could have come from the outside businessmen, artists, musicians, actors, and celebrities who have taken an interest in our home. But it is fitting that the symbol of our renaissance is one of our own. It’s the team that was never supposed to win. It’s the team that lost its home to the storm. It’s the team that traveled like refugees for a year, like so many of our friends. And as you’ve heard all week, they did it for us, and they did it with us, especially our prayers and our noisy help.

But as we head into the season of Lent, we should be reminded that the saints in Heaven got there through the same hard work that enabled the New Orleans Saints to win a Super Bowl ring. Now, I’ve written about the heresy of “Pelagianism” before, the mistaken belief that man is saved by his own goodness and efforts, rather than by Jesus. So I’m not saying that the saints in Heaven got there “on their own.” And, in fact, many commentators (and friends) have attributed the success of our football team to “Divine intervention.” I can promise you that I said my share of prayers this season!

But still, the New Orleans Saints began this season with a goal, and they worked hard to achieve it. And the saints in Heaven had a goal, and they worked their entire lives to achieve it. The paths are similar. The football time worked hard, sacrificed, prepared, supported each other, and believed that God would help them. And the saints in heaven worked hard (in whatever vocation they had), sacrificed (fasting & abstinence), prepared (by confessing their sins and seeking purity of heart), supported each other (by communal prayer and Mass) and believed that God helped them. Lent is a time of particular preparation for Heaven – following the sacrificial practices of the saints. We are joyful that our team won, but that joy is just a glimpse of the everlasting joy Heaven. Let Lent allow us to keep our eyes on the prize. Let the success of the New Orleans Saints inspire us to aspire to the success of the saints in Heaven

Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty