Frank Parater’s Eternal Will and Testament
A short life lived well is better than a long one lived badly.
by Michael Steele, LC | Source:
What would you call a successful life?
Servant of God, Frank Parater, teaches us a valuable lesson on what life is all about. He was born on October 10, 1897, in Richmond Virginia. An enthusiastic youth, leader in the then newly-founded Boy Scouts of America, and class Valedictorian of 1917, Frank entered Belmont Abbey Seminary College in North Carolina after high school to study for the priesthood. In 1919 his bishop sent him to the North American College in Rome to further his studies.
Three months after his arrival in Rome, he was mysteriously stricken with rheumatism that developed into rheumatic fever. He endured tremendous suffering for a few weeks and then on February 7, 1920, after having received the sacraments of the Church, Frank entered Eternal Life. He was just 22.
Gloom surrounded his sudden and mysterious death until a fellow seminarian, Frank Byrne, discovered a sealed white envelope among his colleague’s belongings. Within was the following text, which Pope Benedict XV later published in the Vatican’s Newspaper, and which Pope Pius XI had “copied for his own edification.”
"To be read only in the event of my death at Rome.
1. I have nothing to leave or to give away save my life, and I have already consecrated it to the Sacred Heart to dispose of it as He wills. I have offered everything I have - everything - for the conversion of the non-Catholics of Virginia. This is what I live for, and, should I die, what I die for.
2. Death does not sadden me; rather it is the most welcome, the most beautiful event of life. Death is God's messenger who comes to tell us that our noviceship is over and to welcome us to the true life.
3. I do not write this out of melancholy or morbid sentimentality - for I love my life here, I love the College, the men, and Rome itself. But I have longed to die and be buried close to the saints. I dare not ask God to take me to Himself for fear of appearing so ungrateful for the gift of life or as if I wanted to avoid the graver responsibilities of living. At any rate, perhaps never again will I have less to answer for, perhaps never will I be more ready to meet my Creator, my God and my All.
“Since I was a child I have wanted to die for the love of God and for my fellowman. I do not know whether I shall ever receive such a grace; but if I do live, it will be for the same end. Every act of my life here is offered for God, that the Church may spread and prosper in Virginia. I have always desired to be only a little child, that I might enter the kingdom of God. When the day of resurrection comes, I want to remain as a child and that it be allowed to me to follow St. John Berchmans, St. Aloysius and St. Stanislaus as their servant and friend. Do we serve God less worthily in Heaven by prayer than we do on earth by our activity? No, surely it is not selfish to want to be with Him Who has loved us so much.
And there I will not be leaving those who are dear to me; I will always be close to them, and I will be able to help them much more than I could here on earth. I shall be able to be of more use to my diocese in Heaven than I could ever be on earth.
If it is God's holy will, I shall go back to Him on Good Friday 1920, and I shall never leave Him again. But not my will, Father, but Thine be done!
Rome, December 5, 1919."
Frank saw life as a gift, not as a meaningless existential conveyor-belt toward death. He, through faith, was able to see death also as a gift, and so was able to face it with courage when it came early.
Living well means living to give.
Frank Parater, servant of God, pray for us.
-Information taken from www.richmonddiocese.org- For favors received through Frank’s intercession please contact, Fr Scott Duarte, J.C.D., postulator at the above website.
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