But the LORD answered me, Say not, "I am too young." To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak (Jer. 1:7).
This verse from the book of Jeremiah forms part of one of the readings used at my Priesthood Ordination two years ago. It is the story of God calling Jeremiah to be His prophet, to trust in Him, and to promise Jeremiah that He would always be with him. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.
Whenever I am unsure or apprehensive about beginning a new chapter of life, this Scripture passage always seems to show up. We tend to make all sorts of excuses for not trusting in God. The truth is that God is in control of our lives, not us. God’s ways are perfect and our ways are very imperfect. God gives life, we often stifle it. God is completely trustworthy, we are, at worst, treacherous or, at best, wishy-washy.
I give thanks to God for giving me the grace to trust Him. That trust led me into seminary after my graduation from high school, led me to study in St. Paul and Rome, led me to the priesthood, led me to Marshfield and Spencer Wisconsin, and now is leading me onward to Altoona, Fall Creek, and Eau Claire. Every step He has reassured me, “To whomever I send you, you shall go,” and “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” I hope that these thoughts will continue to help each one of you whenever you face moments of difficulty or change in your lives, whether that be the death of a loved one, a vocational decision, a job change, a family decision, a health crisis, or just the normal uncertainties of life.
How can we increase our trust in God? Whenever I have needed a little booster-shot of God-trust in my life, these practices have always come through for me. Daily personal prayer, especially the rosary, the Sacraments (Mass every Sunday and monthly confession, if not more frequently), and reaching out to others in service and friendship.
Two years ago, I came to St. John’s, Christ the King, and Columbus HS/MS with just a bit of apprehension and nervousness (I mean, I had already heard numerous reports about the pastor and his antics!). But you all have done so much to welcome me here that I have come to consider these places “home.” You also have helped me to grow as a priest in innumerable ways. I am sure it is not always easy having brand new priests come to the parish (Fr. Martin will gladly tell you in vivid detail all about the difficulties!). We are nervous. We make mistakes. We don’t always know what we are doing. But you all have been up to the task, doing the Church a tremendous service by helping to form so many newly ordained priests of our Diocese. Please keep up the good work! And know that you will always be in my prayers. All in all, I think that I have accomplished as much good as I can here with regards to Fr. Martin. I have helped him learn how to make hard-boiled eggs and frozen pizzas. That may not seem like much progress for two years of work, but you have to consider who we are talking about here!
As St. John’s and Christ the King parishes begin a new chapter by welcoming Fr. Barry Saylor, I take the liberty to adapt the Scripture passage a little: Whoever I send to you, you shall welcome.
Long live Christ the King! St. John the Baptist, pray for us! Father Daniel Sedlacek