[Personally, I love a little athletic to spititual life
Metaphor. Reader Adolfo sends this on on my. He tells me that he was surprised by the reaction of the youth group on the northshore. Positive of course.]
Who Dat, Everybody! (As I understand it, 'Who Dat' has replaced 'Hello' as the official term of greeting in the Greater New Orleans Area.)
I'm sure you were all watching with unmitigated glee as Garret Hartley's 40 yard field goal sailed through the uprights, sending our beloved Saints to Miami. If you weren't...um...are you dead? Because I cannot fathom not watching it. In fact, fyi, it seems over 55 million people were watching it, making it the highest rated tv show since Seinfeld's last episode 12 years ago.
Anyhoo, I was there. In the stands, making mad noise, dancing like a fool (I don't really dance any other way), and hugging everyone in sight. On my drive home, Bobby Hebert's post-game analysis consisted of him yelling a lot and crying, but he did manage to let slip that Sunday night's game was "a religious experience" and that got me thinking about the game in that context.
There are a couple of ways to look at that glorious game from a Catholic perspective. Most obvious is the Catholic teaching on the saints (the real ones). The Catechism says that the saints are "the holy People of God, and her members are called 'saints'." That's all of us. In that sense, we are ALL saints. Now, some of these saints are canonized so that they can serve as "models and intercessors" who sustain "the hope of believers." Others, who have passed and are in Heaven, are no less saints than the official canonized ones and it is the collection of all saints St. Paul refers to as the "cloud of witnesses" who cheer us on as we run the race.
So, here's the picture: The crowd in the Dome are the saints in Heaven, the 12th man, if you will. We are the players on the field, the New Orleans Saints. (In theological terms, these are called the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant.) The Vikings are the evil principalities and powers of this present darkness with whom we wrestle. (They have horns on their helmets, for goodness' sake, how much clearer does it get?!?) Now, I ask you, how important to the New Orleans Saints' victory was the crowd in the Dome?
The crowd was (if you believe Darren Sharper) what sustained the defense's intensity and fire during that game. The crowd in the Dome, that loud, raucous, crazy crowd helped the Saints win. Was the crowd necessary? No, but we sure didn't hurt. That's why it's called home field advantage.
In the same way, the saints in Heaven are there to help us do the same thing! They surround us, watching us, rooting us on to victory. When we score a touchdown (by acting virtuously), they erupt in cheer. When we are tempted into sin, when it looks like evil is driving on us, they are there as well, making noise in our favor in the form of intercessory prayer. The saints are the ultimate 12th man! And when victory comes, when we enter Heaven, they'll be there to greet us with dancing, hugs, and the goofy looks on their faces that come with joy.
So I invite you to be like the New Orleans Saints--Rely on the home crowd! Ask for their help, be sustained by their cheers and prayers for you. When they go marching in, you better believe they want you to be in that number!
Who Dat, indeed.
God bless you!