From the Pastor – February 17, 2019

Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. (Lk 6:20-23)

It’s hard to argue with the joy that we experienced in 2010 when the Saints won the Super Bowl.  And it’s hard to argue with the sadness we felt this year when we were “robbed” by the referees who didn’t call a blatant penalty on our last drive.

It seems that after Katrina, we 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 was one of our own. It was the team that was never supposed to win. It was the team that lost its home to the storm. It was the team that traveled like refugees for a year, like so many of our friends.  And as you heard it back then, the Saints 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 in the year we won the Super Bowl and this year!

But still, the New Orleans Saints begin each season with a goal, and each year they work 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.  Football teams work hard, they sacrifice, prepare, support each other, and many believe that God will 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 in 2010, and we are sad about what happened this year.  But earthly joy is just a glimpse of the everlasting joy of Heaven.  Let this year’s Lent allow us to keep our eyes on the prize.  Let both the success of the 2009 New Orleans Saints and the dignity of the 2018 New Orleans Saints inspire us to aspire to the success of the saints in Heaven.

Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty