About two weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the College World Series championship game between Mississippi State and Vanderbilt in Omaha, Nebraska. The stadium was electrifying with more than 24,000 fans in attendance. Mississippi State won its first ever national championship in a team sport in its 126-year history.

I remember the homerun that landed in right center field about 15 feet in front of me. The roar of the crowd literally shook the stadium. I also vividly recall the final out and the response of thousands of Mississippi State fans celebrating after 126 years without a championship. It was the best sports atmosphere I have ever experienced.

The following day at lunch I was speaking with a Catholic priest, named Father Dennis, who was also in attendance with his best friend (who was a former Mississippi State baseball player). He shared with me his thoughts about the electrifying moment of the final out during the 9th inning.

Fr. Dennis said, “All I could think about was if we were to take all the arenas and stadiums in all of sports history (including all the greatest moments of all sports) and put them all together it would only give a glimpse of the roar and cheering from heaven.”

Fr. Dennis then continued, “I like to think of the moment when a soul arrives into heaven and is greeted by Jesus who takes the soul into the stadium of the saints and the arena of the angels. This stadium and arena stretches beyond imagination and the seats are higher than one can see. As the soul enters into heaven there is a roaring of the righteous souls and a cheering of the angels that are simply beyond words.”

Fr. Dennis then said, “The arriving soul then humbly asks Jesus, ‘Why are they all cheering so loudly?’ And Jesus, placing his pierced hand on the soul, responds with a smile, ‘Everyone is cheering for you for accepting my mercy and grace. Well done my good and faithful servant...Come, share in your master’s joy.’”

Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, “Seek first the kingdom of heaven.” Fr. Dennis sought the kingdom first and appreciated the roar of the crowd while sitting at the College World Series more profoundly than me because his mind lifted up toward heaven. At the next electrifying sports game you attend, try to remember the words of Jesus, “Seek first the kingdom of heaven.”

All the saints and angels are praying for you. With the help of God’s grace, one day they may be cheering for you. Seek first the kingdom of heaven.

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Luke Daghir is a seminarian for the Diocese of Erie from St. Marys, Pa. He played catcher for the Elk Catholic Crusaders in 2010-2011 and coached SM Little League for 4 years. Luke was a catcher for the 2009 St. Marys Senior League State Championship team. He currently studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. His favorite team is the Pittsburgh Pirates and favorite baseball player is former catcher Jorge Posada of the New York Yankees.

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