A joyfully Franciscan view of Catholic life, inspired by St. Clare (Santa Chiara) of Assisi!

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Chiara Offreduccio (St. Clare) was born in 1194. It is said that when her mother had Chiara in her womb, an angel appeared to her and said, "your child will be a light that will illuminate the world!" Hence, her mother named the child Chiara, which means "light. As G.K. Chesterton put it, St. Clare was a romantic figure just like Juliet was. However, instead of running away from her family in order to be with an earthly man, Clare gave up everything and ran away from her family for the love of her Savior!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Saints and Sartorial Genius

Even though I can’t sew, I’m always doodling sketches of clothing. Therefore, it shouldn’t be any surprise that the one TV show that I watch happens to be Project Runway. For those who aren’t familiar with the show, Project Runway is a fashion design competition in which fourteen designers are successively eliminated by means of undergoing design “challenges.” Some of the challenges have been rather unorthodox…designing from candy wrappers, creating wrestling costumes, and the latest designer to be eliminated used human hair as part of his material! In the latest elimination, it was decided that Rami Kashou, one of the most talented of the contestants, would be one out of three designers to hold an exclusive fashion show at New York’s Fashion Week. This ordinarily wouldn’t be a bloggable happening for me, except for the fact that Rami used St. Joan of Arc as the inspiration for his collection! His Joan-inspired designs are both beautiful and innovative.

Joan of Arc has definitely been on my mind recently- a few weeks ago I watched the beautiful 1928 silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc. Also, here is a very nicely written children’s story on the life of St. Joan. This story, written by Lawton B. Evans, is taken off of The Baldwin Project site:


THAT we may understand the part that Joan of Arc played in the history of France we must know that at the beginning of the fifteenth century the king of France, whose name was Charles, was a half mad and totally incompetent ruler. His son, also named Charles, was a young and pleasure-loving boy, who thought very little of his kingdom.
The consequence of this was that the kingdom of France was at this time torn by dissensions and open to invasion. England was one of its enemies. [266] King Henry of England had agreed with the queen of France that he was to marry her daughter and be the heir to the French throne. In this way, the young Charles, who was known as the dauphin and who was a rightful ruler, was entirely ignored. Of course this brought on war between the two countries, in which France suffered a great deal.

The English entered France. Henry married Catherine, the dauphin's sister, but shortly after, he, as well as the poor mad king of France, was dead. All this brought about much confusion, for now the heir to the throne of England, who was only nine months old, was contending through his party for the throne of France, and the friends of the young dauphin, Charles, contended that he should be the king of France. Charles was proclaimed king, but had not been crowned at Rheims according to the ancient custom of the French kings.

The beautiful land of France was filled with war and strife. In every part of it the English and French were fighting. Villages were plundered, towns were burned, the poor people suffered much hardship, and it seemed as if nothing would be left to the unhappy inhabitants of these fair lands. This is the time when the story of Joan of Arc begins.

[267] At the little town of Domrémy, which is a village of Lorraine, there lived a farmer whose name was Jacques D'Arc. He had several children, among whom was a beautiful little girl named Jeanne, but we have always known her as Joan of Arc. She grew up as other little girls of her station, until she was about thirteen years of age. She went to church and said her prayers, but she never learned to read and write, for very few people learned to read and write in those days.

Since her parents were poor, Joan had much housework to do, but when the household tasks were finished she and her mother and sisters would sit and spin and sew and talk about the unhappy conditions of the country. The mother would say to her children, "What is to become of our beautiful France? The English are over-running the country, destroying our crops, killing our men, burning our towns, and our poor little dauphin cares for nothing but his pleasure. Would that the good Lord would send some one to rid us of the English!"

Out in the fields Jacques D'Arc and his three sons plowed and sowed and reaped and looked after the sheep, fearing all the time that the English soldiers would come by and destroy their crops and kill their cattle. In this way, between industry and [268] fear, the family lived on quietly, just as many simple people did in those days.

At last Joan became thirteen years of age. The wretched state of affairs in France continued; in fact, they were becoming worse. News came to the little family of dreadful happenings everywhere. Sometimes soldiers passed and told them that the English were besieging Orleans and that the French would not be able to hold out much longer. Sometimes wandering friars would come by bringing sad news of the condition of the country.

Joan became more and more thoughtful. She heard with great sadness that the dauphin, Charles, who was yet an uncrowned king, was living in idleness, trifling his time away and taking no interest in the troubles of his country.
She said to her mother one day, "Would that I were a man, that I might be a soldier, or at least that I might go to the dauphin and tell him to lead his people to war and drive the English from our shores!"

One evening Joan was seated in the little garden in front of the cottage, sewing. She was thinking of the dauphin and of France and the distress of the poor people everywhere. As she sat thinking, suddenly it seemed to her that a bright light shone between her and the church, which was close by. [269] She heard a voice speaking to her, saying, "Joan, you must be a good girl, and go often to church, and you will yet be of great service to your country."

The child was frightened at first, and spoke to no one about the light and the voice which she had heard. Every day voices sounded in her ears, each time saying, "Joan, you will be of great service to your country some day." Some of these voices she thought were those of saints. At another time she thought she heard the voice of Michael, the archangel, saying to her, "Joan, arise and go to the king of France and help him. It is for you to win his battles."

These voices spoke to Joan always when she was alone and in the open air and walking about the fields or through the woods near by. For five years the voices spoke to the young Joan, but she did not know what they meant nor what she could do. She asked herself, "How can a young peasant girl be of any service to the king of France? He would not believe me if I should tell him my story. But I cannot stand these voices any longer and I must tell some one. what I have heard."

She told her story to her uncle, who took her to a French lord, who lived close by. Together they told their simple story, but the lord, whose name was Robert, laughed loudly at the thought of the [270] young girl who proposed to help France in this time of trouble. So he said to Joan's uncle, "Take this child away. She is mad. Send her back to her mother."

Her words were very steadfast, her look was very serious, and her face was very sweet. She insisted that the voices still spoke to her and that she must go. At last Robert said, "Take the child to the king and tell him what she has heard. At least it can do no harm." So with two friends, Joan of Arc started out on her journey to the king's court.

She had on armor and breastplate and wore boy's clothes. Her hair was cut short, and one could not tell her from a young squire who was going to battle. She was mounted on a splendid horse and attracted much attention as she rode through the country. Robert himself had given her a sword.

For eleven days she and her escort rode through the country, traveling mainly by night for fear that the English soldiers would arrest her on the way. Finally they came into the beautiful country of Touraine and rode along the banks of the river Loire. Soon they came in sight of the great castle of Chinon, where lived the king. The castle stood upon a great cliff above the little town, and in it [271] the king was having his pleasures, with but little thought of the condition of his country.

For two days Joan waited in the town before she was allowed to see the king. At last one evening, just about dark, some one said to the king, "There is a young girl below who says she has a great message for your majesty. She says she has heard voices from on high and that she is appointed by God to rid your majesty of your enemies."

The king smiled and said to himself, "This at least will amuse me for awhile," and then ordered the girl to be admitted to his presence.

The castle was crowded with members of the court. There were several hundred present when Joan and her friends, lighted by torches, were taken through the corridors and passages into the great hall where the king stood. The king had dressed himself very plainly so that he could not be distinguished from the others. Joan had never seen him, but when she entered the hall she walked straight up to him and knelt before him, saying, "My king and master, may God give you a long and happy life!"

Charles tried to confuse her by saying, "I am not the king, but there he stands," and pointed to a courtier near by.

But Joan was not to be deceived. "No, gentle [272] dauphin, thou art my king and master. It is you to whom I speak and to none other." Arising from her knees, she said, "I am Joan, the maid. I am sent to the king by heaven, to tell you that you shall yet be crowned at Rheims, according to the ancient custom of the kings of France."
Joan stayed around the court for several days while the weak king made up his mind what to do. The ladies of the court questioned her about the voices which she had heard. She was examined by bishops and by other learned men, but to all who questioned her she gave the same answer, "I have heard voices from on high and they have told me to go to Orleans and drive the English from that town and then lead the king to Rheims, where he might be crowned."
Now Orleans, a city on the Loire river, was reduced to a state of great distress. The place was faithful to the king of France and the English had laid siege to it. They had built towers around its walls and from these towers they fired upon the inhabitants, killing many of them and driving others into the cellars. It was to this place that Joan begged King Charles to allow her to lead an army.

At last Charles and his counselors agreed that she should have her wish. She was provided for in every way. She was given a banner of snow- [273] white linen on which was embroidered a figure of the Saviour with an angel kneeling at each side. Her armor was pure white inlaid with silver. Her sword was one which had lain many years buried in a dead knight's tomb. She rode upon a great black horse that was accustomed. to battle.

In this way, one spring morning, she and a large following set out for Orleans. Joan rode at the head of the army, her face very serious. The men were awed by her appearance and by her gentle reproofs, and ceased their oaths and foul language. In fact, the army moved forward singing hymns and accompanied by chanting priests.

As she neared Orleans the English were quite astonished at the appearance of the approaching army. They looked down from their towers in amazement as Joan and her forces approached, but did not try to prevent her and her forces from entering the town. They said to themselves, "The more we can get in this town the more we will capture in the end."

As Joan's white armor gleamed through the evening dusk the people of the town crowded around to see and to touch her and to kiss her hand. They had all heard of what she had said and many of them believed that she had been sent by God to deliver them from their oppressors. She was lodged [274] in a house whose owner furnished such food as he had to her and her little army. Joan merely dipped bread in wine and water, saying that she would eat nothing else until Orleans was delivered.

The presence of the army cheered the people of Orleans and gave them great hope. They made many bold sallies from the town and one by one the English towers fell. The strongest of them, however, remained untaken. It was commanded by an English knight named Glansdale. Joan decided herself to lead the attack upon this tower.

Clad in her white armor and riding her black horse, she drew her sword, though she had never used it, and ordered the gates to be opened and her men to sally forth. In her hands she bore the embroidered banner, which could be seen from every part of the field of battle. Joan was in constant danger everywhere, but she seemed to bear a charmed life. She stood unhurt amid the cloud of arrows that fell about her and which were directed at her.

As she was standing at the foot of the great tower one arrow struck her in the breast. In fact, she had already prophesied that she would be wounded on that day. With her own hands she drew the arrow from the wound, and getting down from her horse she asked some one to pour oil upon the wound and bind it up with linen. Then re- [275] mounting her steed, she showed herself again to her host, and cried, "On, ye Frenchmen! One more effort and the tower is yours!"

The Frenchmen, seeing Joan again mounted, rushed forward with yells of courage. The English, who thought she had been killed, saw with dismay her boy-like figure riding through the field of battle and her white banner streaming in the wind. She seemed inspired of God, as she turned her face toward the skies. Again she cheered her followers. "Forward in the name of God! The place is yours in an hour!"

At last the tower was taken, and Glansdale, attempting to escape across a bridge, fell into the stream below and was drowned. He and his men had crossed the moat as Joan had moved along the lines, calling out, "Yonder goes the witch!" and calling her evil names. When Joan saw Glansdale and his men drowning in the stream she stopped and shed tears and said aloud, "I have great pity for the souls of those men. May God forgive them their sins!"

The town of Orleans was now out of danger, for the English marched away the next day. From that day Joan was no more known as Joan of Arc, but became known all over France as the Maid of Orleans.
[276] One part of her mission was now accomplished, but the other remained to be done, and that was to see the dauphin crowned king of France. Going back to his castle, she begged Charles to go at once to Rheims, where he might be crowned, but the poor king put it off from time to time, for it seemed to him best that he should stay where he was in idle safety, rather than to risk battle and, perhaps, his life.

While the king was delaying, the Maid spent her time clearing the English from the country round about. The great French generals were now her friends. In fact, so splendid was her following and so successful was she in her battles, that many of the French leaders were jealous of her success and began to look upon her with suspicion and with no kindly thoughts. Said they one to another, "Perhaps, after all, she is a witch and may be leading us into trouble instead of leading us to victory. We had better be careful." So it came about that the Maid had almost as many enemies as she had friends in France.

At last, in the middle of the summer, the king was persuaded to go to Rheims, where he was crowned, and so the second part of her great ambition was accomplished. With her banner in her hand the Maid rode beside the king into the ancient [277] town. The archbishops anointed Charles with oil, and on his head they put the crown of France.

Then the Maid of Orleans knelt at the king's feet and said to him, "My lord and king, the pleasure of God is now fulfilled. It was His will that I should raise the siege of Orleans and that I should lead you to this city to be crowned king. You are now the true king of France, and this fair country is yours. I hope you will rid it of all its enemies and do justice to all your people.

At the ceremony there were many friends from Domrémy who knew her as little Jeanne. There were her father and her uncle, who were very plain, simple people, and who once had looked with sorrow on her leaving her home dressed as a man and righting with rough soldiers. It was a joyful sight to them now to see her riding by the side of the king, receiving such honor from his hands.

When the ceremony was over, her friends from Domrémy quietly went back to their homes, expecting the Maid to follow them. But in this they were disappointed, for they never saw the girl again. The Maid was not satisfied with having accomplished the two great purposes of her life, and which the voices had told her she must do. Orleans was free and the king had been crowned, but the English still had possession of Paris and other places in [278] France. She persuaded the king to lead an army against Paris. There she fought as bravely as ever, but without success. Charles, who did not like fighting, retired from the wars and left that city in the hands of his enemies.

The next spring the Maid led an army into Picardy, to attack the English, who were threatening one of the towns. As the English approached, she said to her army, "We will sally forth to fight them before they reach the town. Guard the gates behind us."

Her forces went forward to battle, but suddenly the English appeared in great numbers, and her men, seized with panic, retreated towards the town whence they had come. To the consternation of those in the town, the English barred the way of the retreating forces. Then they made the cruel mistake of closing the gates of the town, leaving the Maid and her army outside.

In this way Joan was taken prisoner and led in triumph to the English camp. "At last we have you, thou witch and sorceress," said her taunting captors; "you shall no longer lead the French to victory, for we shall make short work of those inspired by the devil. You shall hear other voices than those of which you have spoken."

She was taken from one prison to another. Once she attempted to escape, and once she flung herself [279] from a high tower, but was not injured by the fall. After a few months she was imprisoned at Rouen where her fate was to be decided. There she was treated shamefully. She was kept in a dungeon shut up in an iron cage. She was chained to her bed and watched day and night by rough soldiers who taunted her with her misfortunes.

King Charles, whom she had so bravely helped, and the French generals, by whose side she had fought, made no effort to ransom or to relieve the unhappy girl. She suffered in silence, and always she said to those around her, "I am sustained by a higher power than an earthly one. I have succeeded in my mission and no torture that you can inflict can conquer my spirit."

At last the day came at Rouen, of which the English were in full possession, when she was tried by a court of judges, and sad to relate, those judges were mostly French, and the charge was sorcery and witchcraft and other crimes. She told the story of her life and of the voices which she had heard, and always maintained that the voices were from God. The trial continued for days and even weeks, and in the end the Maid was condemned to die.

One spring day, in the early morning, she was taken to the old market-place at Rouen, where a stake had been driven into the ground. To this stake she was [280] chained, and around her was piled a lot of wood.

She begged that she might hold a cross in her hand. One of the English soldiers who was on guard, broke a stick and fashioned the pieces in the form of a cross and handed it to her. The Maid took it and pressed it to her bosom and lifted her face to the sky. Then the cruel soldiers set fire to the wood and the flames slowly enveloped her form. Her last words were, "The voices I heard were of God. They still sustain me. They have never deceived me."
With these words upon her lips, the flames enveloped the form of the young girl and she died a martyr's death. Among all the heroes that France loves, whether they be soldiers or statesmen or even kings, there is none that is loved more tenderly or reverenced more sincerely than the little maid of Domrémy, whose wonderful courage has made her known to all the world as the Maid of Orleans.

It’s so awesome that Rami picked such a wonderful Saint as the muse for his beautiful final collection. Way to go, Rami!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Early February is always a very special time for me, since the feast days of two of my favorite saints fall within days of each other- Servant of God Frank Parater on February 7th and Saint Scholastica on February 10th.

Last year, I had a very late night on the eve of the feast of St. Scholastica. In fact, I almost forgot to wake up in time to go to St. Scholastica Day mass! Not to mention that my alarm was broken…but fortunately another “alarm” came to my rescue: right outside my bedroom window, a beautiful gray dove started to coo very loudly. According to legend, St. Scholastica’s soul ascended into heaven in the form of a dove after she died. Perhaps her soul came back down in the form of a dove in order to wake me up!

We have very little information on Scholastica’s life, beyond the fact that she was the sister of St. Benedict and the founder of the first women’s monasteries in Western Europe. I’ve already shared with you the legend that explains why she is the patroness against rainstorms. A few days after that incident, she supposedly died- and that’s when legend asserts that her soul rose to heaven as a dove. I think that this image of one’s soul rising to heaven as a dove is very powerful, and many Saints have in fact compared the soul to a bird. St. Therese employs this image in one of my favorite excerpts from Story of a Soul:

I look upon myself as a weak little bird, with only a light down as covering. I am not an eagle, but I have only an eagle's EYES AND HEART. In spite of my extreme littleness I still dare to gaze upon the Divine Sun, the Sun of Love, and my heart feels within it all the aspirations of an Eagle.

The little bird wills to fly towards the bright Sun which attracts its eye, imitating its brothers, the eagles, whom it sees climbing up towards the Divine Furnace of the Holy Trinity. But alas! the only thing it can do is raise its little wings; to fly is not within its little power!

What then will become of it? Will it die of sorrow at seeing itself so weak? Oh no! the little bird will not even be troubled. With bold surrender, it wishes to remain gazing upon its Divine Sun. Nothing will frighten it, neither wind nor rain, and if dark clouds come and hide the Star of Love, the little bird will not change its place because it knows that beyond the clouds its bright Sun still shines on and that its brightness is not eclipsed for a single instant.

At times the little bird's heart is assailed by the storm, and it seems it should believe in the existence of no other thing except the clouds surrounding it; this is the moment of perfect joy for the poor little weak creature. And what joy it experiences when remaining there just the same! and gazing at the Invisible Light which remains hidden from its faith!

O Jesus, up until the present moment I can understand Your love for the little bird because it has not strayed far from You. But I know and so do You that very often the imperfect little creature, while remaining in its place (that is, under the Sun's rays), allows itself to be somewhat distracted from its sole occupation. It picks up a piece of grain on the right or on the left; it chases after a little worm; then coming upon a little pool of water, it wets its feathers still hardly formed. It sees an attractive flower and its little mind is occupied with this flower. In a word, being unable to soar like the eagles, the poor little bird is taken up with the trifles of earth.

And yet after all these misdeeds, instead of going and hiding away in a corner, to weep over its misery and to die of sorrow, the little bird turns towards its beloved Sun, presenting its wet wings to its beneficent rays. It cries like a swallow and in its sweet song it recounts in detail all its infidelities, thinking in the boldness of its full trust that it will acquire in even greater fullness the love of Him who came to call not the just but sinners. And even if the Adorable Star remains deaf to the plaintive chirping of the little creature, even if it remains hidden, well, the little one will remain wet, accepting its numbness from the cold and rejoicing in its suffering which it knows it deserves.

O Jesus, Your little bird is happy to be weak and little. What would become of it if it were big? Never would it have the boldness to appear in Your presence, to fall asleep in front of You. Yes, this is still one of the weaknesses of the little bird: when it wants to fix its gaze upon the Divine Sun, and when the clouds prevent it from seeing a single ray of that Sun, in spite of itself, its little eyes close, its little head is hidden beneath its wing, and the poor little thing falls asleep, believing all the time that it is fixing its gaze upon its Dear Star. When it awakens, it doesn't feel desolate; its little heart is at peace and it begins once again its work of love. It calls upon the angels and saints who rise like eagles before the consuming Fire, and since this is the object of the little bird's desire the eagles take pity on it, protecting and defending it, and putting to flight at the same time the vultures who want to devour it. These vultures are the demons whom the little bird doesn't fear, for it is not destined to be their prey but the prey of the Eagle whom it contemplates in the center of the Sun of Love.

O Divine Word! You are the Adored Eagle whom I love and who alone attracts me! Coming into this land of exile, You willed to suffer and to die in order to draw souls to the bosom of the Eternal Fire of the Blessed Trinity. Ascending once again to the Inaccessible Light, henceforth Your abode, You remain still in this "valley of tears," hidden beneath the appearances of a white host. Eternal Eagle, You desire to nourish me with Your divine substance and yet I am but a poor little thing who would return to nothingness if Your divine glance did not give me life from one moment to the next.

O Jesus, allow me in my boundless gratitude to say to You that Your love reaches unto folly. In the presence of this folly, how can You not desire that my heart leap towards You? How can my confidence, then, have any limits? Ah! the saints have committed their follies for You, and they have done great things because they are eagles.

Jesus, I am too little to perform great actions, and my own folly is this: to trust that Your Love will accept me as a victim. My folly consists in begging the eagles, my brothers, to obtain for me the favor of flying towards the Sun of Love with the Divine Eagle's own wings!

As long as You desire it, O my Beloved, Your little bird will remain without strength and without wings and will always stay with its gaze fixed upon You. It wants to be fascinated by Your divine glance. It wants to become the prey of Your Love. One day I hope that You, the Adorable Eagle, will come to fetch me, Your little bird; and ascending with it to the Furnace of Love, You will plunge it for all eternity into the burning Abyss of this Love to which it has offered itself as victim.

St. Therese, LETTER TO SISTER MARIE OF THE SACRED HEART, Chapter IX - My Vocation Is Love (1896), Story of a Soul

Scholastica was a woman who was hidden from the world and has largely been hidden in the pages of history. Like Therese, perhaps Scholastica also felt at times that she wasn’t strong enough to accomplish large things….so instead the invested herself in little acts of love and trusted in God’s mercy. Ultimately, by living a life full of small acts of love, Scholastica was able to ascend as a “little bird” to her true home in heaven!

I am very grateful to Scholastica for interceding on my behalf so many times over the past year. I hope that your prayers are also answered on the feast of this wonderful Saint!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Frank Parater and "The American Dream"

Happy Feast of Frank Parater, Servant of God! Today is one of the most special days of the year for me, as I have a huge devotion to Frank. Click here to read an inspiring account of his life and learn more about my devotion to him!

One of the main tenets of the so-called “American Dream” is that a person can achieve “the perfect life” if they are goal-oriented, hard-working, affable, and have a positive attitude. The Servant of God Frank Parater, whose feast day is today, was a person who seemed to embody those “All-American” qualities. He was patriotic, an active parish and civic volunteer, a talented public speaker, an avid book-lover and writer, and valedictorian of his grammar school, high school, and undergraduate college. When he entered the Boy Scouts, he was initially awkward and gangly, but through hard work and virtue, he became one of the very first Eagle Scouts in this country. In fact, he was the youngest person to be named the director of the Boy Scout Camp. Indeed, Frank was a true athlete and outdoorsman. After many long hours of study, Frank was ultimately accepted to the Pontifical North American College….which is, for seminarians, the equivalent of receiving a Rhodes Scholarship. In virtually all his endeavors, Frank was extremely popular and well-liked.

Most of us have probably encountered such high-achieving people in our lives- the hard-working kids in school who always break the curve, are extracurricular all-stars, and get into top colleges. The people who embody “The American Dream.” Nonetheless, our mainstream culture asserts that in order to perfectly achieve “The American Dream,” we need to direct our virtue, hard-work, and optimism towards worldly success. Unless a high-achiever has a prominent career and a fantastic salary, our culture holds that his or her hard work has been in vain.
Indeed, Frank’s digression from these worldly ideals is part of the reason why we should admire him. Frank believed that being “perfect” should be our goal, but he had a different definition of perfection- a perfection that could only be achieved with God’s grace. To that end, Frank placed serving God above everything else in his life. This “Rule of Life” that Frank drew up for himself in is a testament to his true priorities- it included daily Mass and Holy Communion, praying the rosary and Memorare daily, weekly confession, reading a chapter of Scripture daily, and living with the abiding conviction that "the Sacred Heart never fails those that love Him." The following is an excerpt from his journals where he explains part of his Christ-centered philosophy:
Be a man and then you'll be a good priest. Don't be petty; be large minded. Don't be a bluffer; no man can keep from having his bluff called. Don't boast; an egotist is the worst boast; cultivate humility. 'Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart.' Be frank, but not critical. A word of praise does more good than a sermon on fault finding. Be gentle - 'a gentleman never inflicts pain.' Love the poor…Remember all mean are humans and let your charity be unbounded: but be strict with yourself (not scrupulous) remembering that some day God will judge every action of your life as a merciful Judge. The sunny smile with hearty handshake is the foundation stone of a successful life. (Rule, 1918)

The way that Frank placed God and following His will as the ultimate objective of his life- and ultimately, his death- is truly an inspiration for me. Like Frank, I have been a high-achieving person for all of my life. Unfortunately, I often mix up my priorities and think that my personal and academic achievements will only have significance if I am successful in a worldly sense. In turn, I become very discouraged and negative when I hit a roadblock and don’t see the material results of my hard work and past achievements- I even question whether I am truly following God when things don’t turn out the way I had hoped. Frank too hit a major roadblock when his lifelong effort to become a priest was interrupted by a fatal illness. However, instead of falling into despair and sadness, Frank knew that his suffering could also be a powerful way to love God. This sense of hope and redemption is expressed in a letter that he wrote to his mother:

Pray hard for your boy. The path God has destined me to walk glistens before me like the shimmering path of moonbeams on the water. But how many pitfalls, briars, and thorns have been hidden along that way. Beg God to give me the grace of one thing - 'to do His will perfectly.' That alone is enough. However hard the cross may be, however rough the way, I know it is God's will and I shall have grace to persevere until the end. 'Thy Will be done,' beg the Cor Jesu to give me the grace to make it my motto, the standard of my life. And then whether I die within the year or live to a ripe old age, I shall die happily and willingly, praising the Lord.

Frank’s faith-based perspective of “success” is something I plan to really work on in the upcoming Lenten season. Although they lived in different cultures and time, Frank Parater falls in line with some of my other favorite Saints and holy people- Saint Clare, Saint Francis, and Pope John Paul II. All of the aforementioned people were high-achievers and could have achieved worldly success if they wanted to. Instead, they dedicated their gifts and talents to God and the Church and were consequently “high achievers” in terms of holiness!
On a final note, Frank Parater is an extremely powerful intercessor. Just last week, he granted a very big favor in response to something to which my family and I had been praying. Please, don’t be afraid to ask Frank Parater to intercede on your behalf- I’m sure that he’s always happy to listen to your prayers.
Happy feast day, Frank! I love you!

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