Another example of sports as religion comes courtesy of Peter Finney Jr, editor and general manager of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. He recently reported that less than two years after becoming archbishop of New Orleans, Archbishop Philip Hannan wrote and delivered the invocation for the Saints’ first game — Sept. 7, 1967 — at Tulane Stadium. Here is the archbishop’s “Prayer for the Saints”:
“God, we ask your blessing upon all who participate in this event, and all who have supported our Saints. Our heavenly Father, who has instructed us that the ‘saints by faith conquered kingdoms … and overcame lions,’ grant our Saints an increase of faith and strength so that they will not only overcome the Lions, but also the Bears, the Rams, the Giants and even those awesome people in Green Bay.
“May they continue to tame the Redskins and fetter the Falcons as well as the Eagles. Give to our owners and coaches the continued ability to be as wise as serpents and simple as doves, so that no good talent will dodge our draft. Grant to our fans perseverance in their devotion and unlimited lung power, tempered with a sense of charity to all, including the referees.
“May our beloved ‘Bedlam Bowl’ be a source of good fellowship, and may the ‘Saints Come Marching In’ be a victory march for all, now and in eternity.”
And maybe next season, like the archbishop did more than 42 years ago, we’ll once again be praying about “those awesome people in Green Bay.”