Catholic Exchange: Servant of God Frank Parater’s Burning Love for Souls

Servant of God Frank Parater was a seminarian for the Diocese of Richmond whose cause for beatification was opened in October 2001. He desired to lay down his life for Christ as a priest. He burned with an intense love for souls and wanted to see souls converted to Christ and His Church. In a time when fewer and fewer men are answering the call to become priests, Frank is an example and an intercessor to turn to for holy vocations to the priesthood.

Francis “Frank” Joseph Parater was born on October 10, 1897 into a devout Catholic family in Richmond, Virginia. His father was Captain Francis Joseph Parater, Sr. and his mother was Mary Raymond, who was Francis Senior’s second wife. Frank was baptized at Saint Patrick’s Church on Church Hill in Richmond.

Frank’s father cared for the garden at the Monastery of the Visitation near their home, which allowed Frank to walk to daily Mass and serve as an altar boy until he left for college. He attended Xaverian Brother’s School and Benedictine High School. He graduated in 1917 as valedictorian. He was active in Boys Scouts of America and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

In 1917, Frank began studies for the religious priesthood at Belmont Abbey Seminary in North Carolina. His desire was: “To strive by every possible means to become a pure and worthy priest, an alterus Christus [sic].” He fostered a life of prayer through devotion to Our Blessed Mother in the Rosary and the Memorare. He frequented the Sacraments, especially daily reception of Holy Communion and weekly Confession.

While at Belmont, Frank decided to become a diocesan priest in the Diocese of Richmond in order to serve his native state of Virginia instead of pursuing monastic life. He saw the great need for priests and wanted to help grow the Catholic Church in Virginia. He believed that there is no greater gift he can give to others than Jesus Christ. He wanted to live the evangelical zeal the Church is called to by Our Lord in the Great Commission.

In the fall of 1919, He was sent to study at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He was happy in his studies and fostered many relationships with fellow seminarians. His spiritual life continued to deepen. In December he wrote an Act of Oblation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, while he was in perfect health. He did not show it to anyone.

He consecrated His entire life to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the will of God. He knew that “the Sacred Heart never fails those that love Him.” His life belonged completely to Jesus and he wanted to be used to save souls. The only life worth living is one surrendered entirely to Christ for the salvation of souls.

From an early age, Frank wanted to give his life even to the point of death to God for the sake of others. Such was the immensity of His love for souls. He wrote in his Act of Oblation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: “I have offered everything I have—everything—for the conversion of non-Catholics in Virginia. This is what I live for, and, should I die, what I die for.” As a seminarian he knew that the calling of a priest is to give himself away to Christ for the salvation of souls. The more a priest dies to self, the more souls Christ saves through him. Frank wanted to live this sacrifice.

In the end, Frank gave his life as an oblation for the people of Virginia and the Diocese of Richmond. He died at 22-years-old from rheumatic fever on February 7, 1920, two short months after composing his Act of Oblation. Even though he was unable to be ordained a priest before his death, he lived the priestly sacrifice through his suffering in union with Christ Crucified for souls.

He knew that in death he would be able to serve the Church to an even greater degree as an intercessor before the Throne of God. He wrote: “I shall be of more use to my diocese in Heaven than I could ever be on earth.” May he intercede for the Church in asking Our Lord to raise up an abundance of holy vocations to the priesthood and one day be counted among the Blessed.

Frank Parater Act of Oblation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

“To be read only in the event of my death at Rome.
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.
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.
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 that 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 Parater, ora pro nobis.

This article originally appeared at Catholic Exchange.

The Saints and the Cross Episode 19: Sts. Peter and Paul

Happy Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul! I apologize that I haven’t made any videos in the last few weeks. I’ve been working on a few projects and spending time with my family. Today I talk about how St. Peter and St. Paul show us the Way of the Cross and how their examples help us in our own spiritual lives. St. Peter’s doubt and St. Paul’s unshakeable faith are representative of the ups and downs most of us face in the spiritual life. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we too can have unshakeable faith despite the Crosses we face. These two saints show us that regardless of our faith journey the Holy Spirit is guiding us on the Way of the Cross in our own lives.

The Saints and the Cross Episode 11: St. Padre Pio

Today’s episode is on St. Padre Pio and persevering through this period of exile. He is a saint who achieved high levels of sanctity and was given great blessings and gifts from God, including the stigmata. He suffered tremendously, often at the hands of others because of these extraordinary gifts. During this time as we struggle with being exiled from the Real Presence in Holy Communion and public celebration of the Mass, he is an example to us of how to persevere and endure suffering.

Many feel abandoned by the Church, but the reality is, the hierarchy has failed the flock since the inception of the Church. The battle for the renewal of the priesthood will come and is being fought by some at present, but in this present exile, we need to focus on conversion of heart, deeper prayer, and making reparations–including for the hierarchy–so that Christ can unleash great graces into the world for the salvation of souls. Lord willing, we will come out of this period strengthened in faith, hope, and charity so that we can live the mission He has given to each one of us in order to draw all peoples into conformation with the Most Holy Trinity.

The Saint and the Cross Episode 10: St. Catherine of Siena

I’m a few days late, but today I talk about St. Catherine of Siena. In this short talk, I focus on her life of prayer and the interior life, which led Christ to use her in extraordinary ways. She’s often quoted in response to the clergy sex abuse scandals. It’s important for us to remember that God is the one who provides the graces we need to live certain missions. If He is calling us to help renew the priesthood, then we must first be people of prayer and mortification. We must seek His will or we may get in the way of what He’s trying to accomplish. It is a life of profound prayer and union with God that makes any missions He gives to us possible. Prayer must come before action.

The Cross and the Saints Episode 9: St. Augustine

Today, as promised, I talk about St. Augustine who was St. Monica’s son. He is a great saint for those who are struggling with lust and the sins of the flesh. He had a dramatic and beautiful conversions which is recounted in his Confessions. I highly recommend reading it during this time at home. He is also a wonderful saint for all of us as we constantly seek conversion of heart. This process of conversion of heart is a moment-by-moment struggle as we try to turn to God in all things. St. Augustine, ora pro nobis.

The Saints and the Cross Episode 7: St. Joan of Arc

Happy Third Sunday of Easter! Today I talk about the next saint in my series: St. Joan of Arc. This one is for my daughter who loves the martyr saints. St. Joan of Arc is a wonderful example to us of how to follow God’s will even when those around us do not understand it fully. She was tasked with doing extraordinary things in the face of extreme odds, but her faithfulness to God, led her to accomplish all that He asked of her. She eventually gave her life for Christ as a martyr when she was burned at the stake. May we all use this time to prayerfully discern where Christ is calling us to serve Him for the salvation of souls.

The Saints and the Cross Episode 5: St. John Vianney

Happy Easter! Today I cover one of the saints you all requested. He is a great saint who I already have a devotion to as a spiritual mother to priests. I could talk about him and the priesthood for hours, but I tried to keep it somewhat short. Please pray daily for our priests!

The Saints and the Cross Episode 1: St. Charles Borromeo

Today I begin my video series on the saints and the Cross with St. Charles Borromeo. I also provide a lens through which we can view the present pandemic and exile by referencing St. John Paul II’s Salvifici Doloris:

I’m still taking suggestions for saints you’d like to see me cover. Feel free to post them in the comments or email me.

Guest Post: 3 Tactics to Overcome Spiritual Sloth

**Today’s guest post is from fellow Catholic Exchange contributor Matthew Chicoine.

American founding father Benjamin Franklin said, “Diligence overcomes difficulties; sloth makes them.” Laziness not only creates problems, but also worsens them. Procrastination, a cousin of laziness, is the particular type of sloth that haunts me. I make excuses to explain and justify my laziness. “I am too tired.” or “The kids drove me crazy. I just need to de-stress by watching T.V.” or “I exercised yesterday so I can take the day off today!” The list goes on and on. 

Fatigue definitely leads to sloth. Another cause is pride. My hubris leads me to believe I don’t need to take action as promptly as possible. Oftentimes, this is the case when my wife asks me to accomplish a task or schedule an important appointment. Connected closely with physical laziness is spiritual sloth. After the intensity of Lent and the joy of the Easter season wears off, I always seem to be lagging behind my prayer life around the feast of Pentecost. This article will focus on three strategies to overcome spiritual sloth and renew your prayer life. 

Exercise

According to Proverbs 12:24, “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.” Exercise helps bring me out of a sluggish slump. Simply, holding myself accountable by going for a 3 mile run or bike ride provides me energy. The same is true with our spiritual life.

 A simple way to break out of your spiritual slump is to pray. Prayer is just a two-way conservation with God. If you don’t know how to start don’t worry! Communication with God need not be complicated. Just ask for strength. Tell Him your struggles. If you are still need direction on how to start praying look to St. Josemaria Esciva. The Spanish priest wrote, “The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” Another creative method to pray would be to pray while exercising! Ask the Holy Spirit for the mettle to make it that next mile or rep.  

Seek Guidance

Another tactic to dispel spiritual sloth is seeking guidance from the saints and/or a spiritual director. Because of the busyness of my schedule, I personally don’t have time for a formal spiritual director. I enjoy reading the Bible or spiritual writing of a saint. St. Vincent de Paul puts it plainly, “Read some chapter of a devout book….It is very easy and most necessary, for just as you speak to God when at prayer, God speaks to you when you read.” Reading only a few pages a day will definitely prove fruitful—the key is consistency. Digest this guidance daily bit by bit.

Frequent the Sacraments

A third way to defeat spiritual sloth is something Catholic already are supposed to partake in—the sacraments. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1210, 

Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life:1 they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian’s life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life.

At a bare minimum Catholics attend Mass weekly. There the faithful receives the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ as nourishment to sustain them for the week. During our journey on earth we fall into sin—marring our soul. Both physical and spiritual damage requires proper healing in order to avoid future decay. The sacrament of Confession restores us back into communion with God and our neighbors. 

St. John Paul II declares in his Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliation and Penance, “To acknowledge one’s sin, indeed-penetrating still more deeply into the consideration of one’s own personhood-to recognize oneself as being a sinner, capable of sin and inclined to commit sin, is the essential first step in returning to God” (no. 13). Being forgiven from your sins elicits a freedom. We become freer to choose God’s will over our selfish desires after receiving the sacramental graces of Penance.

If you are struggling with spiritual sloth do not despair. Ask God for help and aid will be given to you. Frequent prayer leads to greater stamina during the dry times of our spiritual journey. Look to the writing of the saints for guidance and receive the sacraments, especially Eucharist and Confession. These three tactics are simple ways to defend against and defeat spiritual sloth. The most difficult part of any exercise is to start. Take that first step and begin renew your spiritual journey today!

**You can read more of Matthew’s writing at Catholic Exchange and at his blog The Simple Catholic.


Catholic Exchange: When Life Feels Like a Raging Storm

There are periods in our lives that feel like a raging storm. The winds swirl up at high speeds, the clouds darken to a night sky mid-day, and rain pours down. The torrential downpour comes in unrelenting waves and we feel like St. Peter standing in the boat staring in fear and awe at Our Lord walking on the waves.

Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately he spoke to them, saying, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:22-36

During periods of trial, it can be easy to stand paralyzed by the storm. We can begin to focus on the crashing waves, the wind blowing so hard we can barely stand, or to shake violently in the freezing rain. In this passage from St. Matthew, the boat was beaten by the waves from the wind, but often the storms in our lives can feel like a hurricane. Suffering, pain, anguish, affliction, and struggles in this life are meant to strengthen us, but most of us battle immense weakness in the face hardships. These are periods that can be marked by doubt, fear, anger, anxiety, mistrust, and a deep desire to flee. So, what are we to do?

Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange.