January 30, 2010 11:37:00 PM
Adele Elliott - [email protected]
This week the news has been filled with stories of saints of every sort.
For Chris and Eddy Green and the ba-zillions of fans, things could not be better. The New Orleans Saints are going to the Super Bowl! Who saw that one coming? Forty-two years of disappointment, and finally this!
I blame much of The Saints'' catastrophic history on my grandmother. Momo was a militant Catholic. When New Orleans decided to name their team "The Saints" she was mortified. In her mind, this was a sacrilege of biblical proportions. They did it anyway. Although she has been gone many years, I believe her outrage left a decades-long curse on the team. Perhaps she has finally forgiven them; hence, this long- overdue winning season.
Of course, The Big Easy may experience problems with split loyalties on Super Bowl Sunday. Native son, Peyton Manning, will be playing against "The Who Dats." Maybe that just makes it a win-win situation for a city that needs little reason to celebrate.
In the 1980s, I had a small shop on Magazine Street, in uptown New Orleans. My mother worked for me. Her role at Ballunacy was to answer the phone, and she formed instant and almost intimate relationships with total strangers.
Olivia Manning was one of our customers. She began each call by announcing, "This is Olivia Manning." My mother, who had little knowledge of professional sports, or any idea of Archie''s importance, would turn to me and say, "It''s Mrs. Manning on the phone again. Isn''t she that old lady on Second Street?"
Often, Olivia would confide, "I have three very young boys. They are such a handful!" Bet she doesn''t say that now.
There is also news about the imminent canonization of Pope John Paul II. It seems that he is saintly because he beat himself with a belt, slept on the floor and fasted. Some psychiatrists may have another name for that.
If you think that a church that teaches that the "body is a temple" may have a problem with such behavior, you would be wrong. Monsignor Oder, Pope John Paul''s chief postulator, calls the practice "an instrument of Christian perfection."
In order to be declared a saint, the Church requires proof of a miracle attributed to the nominee. Pope John Paul''s folks are working on that. However, I can''t help but remember that old Guido Sarducci routine. When talking about a candidate for sainthood, he quipped, "I think one of his miracles was a card trick."
My husband''s passion for The Saints does not have much influence on me. I think athletes are overpaid for playing a "game." And Pope John Paul created a false sense of suffering in what was truly a very cushy life.
I do believe, however, that there are some real saints on Earth. The whole world is gathering to help Haiti. I can''t imagine what strength it must take to dig through rubble and the stench of decomposing corpses on the hope of finding just one more human still alive. Tragedy sometimes brings out truly sacred behavior.
Real saints probably do not think of glory or wealth when doing good deeds. They are almost certainly too busy working on improving some small part of the world. Canonization, the title of "saint," should be reserved for those who are genuinely worthy.
Could Momo have been right?
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.