What’s the difference between being gaudy and being rich?
LSU is not exactly in the poorhouse after Sunday’s question-marked 47 minutes and exclamation-point conclusion. But it sure seems like the boon times are still seasons away.
Gaudy superficially glitters; rich has a solid core.
Or a half-way decent offensive line, at least.
When gaudy and rich combine, though? You remember those moments.
In August 2017, I was engaged in my pre-Mass greeting routine when some blingy sedan parked across the street. Shiny black, chrome details, tinted windows. Gaudy, I thought.
Then the doors opened. And immediately I changed my tune. Oh no, that’s more than surface-level; that’s rich.
Gayle and Tom had come to church.
By the time the Bensons made it to their second-row, 40-yard-line pew, I had been convinced by the ushers that today’s sermon should be audibled at the line to the pulpit. Try that Financial State of the Parish thing. From Proverbs we would hear (if such a reading had actually been selected for today’s Mass), God loves a cheerful giver.
I resisted. God comes to Midas and Medusa alike, right?
I did offer the Bensons donuts on their way back to the Mercedes Benz of New Orleans top-shelf selection. And Mr. Benson returned the gesture, offering me tickets to a game.
I wouldn’t cash in on my offer to the Benson Box for another season—teams coming off three straight 7-9 campaigns tend to play home games during a pastor’s 12:00 p.m. Sunday service. But they were kindly persistent, welcoming me four times in two seasons.
As you could imagine, the spread was always good (fourth quarter victory beers are available only in a box, it seems). But the people watching was even better. During one halftime, my sister was cut off from her conversation with Archbishop Aymond by Governor Edwards and his wife. You see, Becky could speak to the archbishop all game long, while Louisiana’s first family was stuck a box away. Life’s tough on the forty-five-yard line.
Before the game, the Bensons keep the tradition of a quiet and quite prayerful pre-game Mass. On the walls of the make-shift chapel (complete with its own vestments and sacred vessels) are various pieces of significant memorabilia. It wasn’t the autographs and presidential photo-ops that always caught my eye, however. Nicely framed is the earliest reproduction of Archbishop Philip Hannan’s 1968 prayer of blessing over the Saints. It is something of a New Orleans baptismal text, asking God’s support for the newly born franchise.
Our Heavenly Father, who has instructed us that the ‘saints by faith conquered kingdoms and overcame lions’, grant our Saints an increase in 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.
Faith meets culture. Appropriately, there’s even a “fetter the Falcons” intention worked in.
Throughout our history, the Saints have shown little gaudy, even less rich. But recency bias is the order of the day (the Twitter bots began crowd-funding Brian Kelly’s $100 million buyout by the end of Sunday’s third quarter). And recently, the Saints have been very good.
Put me on record that I think victories will continue this year. Now, I’ll grant you that CJ Gardner-Johnson’s exile to Philadelphia significantly reduces our gaudy quotient (how will the youth of today know how to cross-arm smirk their defiance to authority?). But maybe it will only dull the surface without chipping the core?
With seventeen destruction derbies on the schedule, being rich with injury luck is as significant as richness with talent. But after last year’s historically injured season, such luck seems due. A farewell to voodoo dolls and tarot curses and injury tents, we pray, O Lord.
And a return of the gaudy and the rich. From the franchise that gathers a dance party around a football field, runs for a photo-op at every turnover, and flexes on any unwitting DB, we know the place where gaudy and rich can meet.
A tasteful year for the Black and Gold would mean that much.
In anticipation of the Super Bowl, WDSU sat down with Archbishop Hannan on the team and his prayer. Enjoy!