Earlier in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a Roman Catholic priest from Trois-Rivieres, Quebec had Montreal Canadiens logos plastered on the ceremonial scarf around his robes. When a TV crew asked about it, he claimed he was praying "for the best team to win" but hoped "the good Lord might side with his Habs."
As we all know, hope has no place in Philadelphia. No, their men and women of the cloth demand divine intervention for the Philadelphia Flyers — from parishioners, students and from The Almighty.
An enthusiastic reporter from Fox 29 in Philly interviewed Father Mike Marrone and Sister Mary Joe on Thursday morning, hours after the Flyers captured Game 3 of the finals in overtime, 4-3, to cut the Chicago Blackhawks' series lead to 2-1.
Which was, in their eyes, God's clear intention to hear their prayers and guide the Broad Street Bullies to hockey's Holy Grail.
From the interview:
NUN: Oh yeah. And we had our pep rally last week with our orange and black, and every day when we do our intentions it's always for the Flyers, for the Flyers.
And you know what? The kids made Communion and I took down all that stuff. I should have put up stuff for the Blessed Mother, but I put up my Flyers banner instead.
No word if all of their Confirmation names will be either Clarke or Carcillo. We continue:
FOX: Do you pray for the players individually? Do you pray for the players? Do you pray for the coach?
PRIEST: You know what? We pray for everybody. And we have the good kids over at St. Dennis School wearing their colors today, showing their pride for the Flyers. We said mass for them. We've been praying for them, we put them in our intentions in the morning. We know God's not going to let us down.
Because, clearly, God hates Chicago. Why else give them the Cubs? We continue:
FOX: That's just it. You've got the direct hotline to Him. Has He spoken back to you? Are you feeling any good vibes?
PRIEST: I think last night was proof of it. He hears everybody's prayers and I think He's going to hear our prayers again tomorrow night.
We've often argued for a separation of church and sport when it comes to issues like team prayers and franchise/league-sponsored events that cater to one religion over another. Faith is a private matter, after all; while many of us have prayed for the success of our teams and/or the total destruction of their enemies, we probably haven't thought God was in the coach's box with a headset on and a windbreaker over His robes.
But hey: Based on these interviews, it's clearly God's will to give Philadelphia Flyers fans a championship season. How else to explain the overcoming of injuries? How else to explain the comeback against the Boston Bruins if not by virtue of a miracle? Ditto Arron Asham's(notes) offense?
We've been to Chicago. There are lots of places of worship. Obviously, the only prayer the Blackhawks have now is to have all members of the clergy in both cities engage in a holy war, hopefully with magic wands like the wizard fights in Harry Potter.
And now we'll return to coverage even agnostics and atheists can enjoy ...
UPDATE: Leave it to our readers. Eric B. in the comments notes that the Blackhawks already have earned an important endorsement in the "praying for the Cup" competition via Jersey Fouls:
JC at the UC. Unstoppable.