Remembering Frank Parater, Servant of God...my first post of 2009!
Pax et Bonum, everyone, and Happy New Year! While the first weeks of the year have indeed been difficult for so many of us, I hope that you all have found joy in the many little blessings that God gives us. In that regard, I know that readership of my blog has decreased due to my writers’ block and other circumstances, but I’m grateful for those of you who still check back from time to time!
I figured that today, the “Feast” of Frank Parater, Servant of God, would be an ideal day to end my writers’ block and start posting again. For those of you who are unfamiliar with my obsession with Frank Parater, here are some of my past posts which delve into my devotion to this saint-in-the making:
2006- First post on Frank Parater
2006- Another one of my early reflections on "Frank"
Frank Parater- An Unlikely Hero
Frank Parater and "The American Dream"
Echoing the theme from St. Therese’s Story of a Soul, Frank wrote the following in a letter written months before his death: “I shall not leave my dear ones. I will always be near them and be able to help them more than I can here below. I shall be of more service to my diocese in heaven than I could ever be on earth.” In particular, Frank wanted to pray for the denizens of our home state of Virginia.
Over the past year, I’m sure that Frank has been praying overtime from his office in heaven! Within the past couple of months, tens of thousands of people in Virginia- and the rest of the country- have lost their jobs and savings, including many of my friends. For those of us who were already without jobs, employment was nearly impossible to find.
In my own case, months of futile job searching, hundreds of resume revisions, and fruitless cover letters left me embittered, anxious, and blind to the many gifts God has given me. However, I began to rethink this way of valuing myself when I randomly came across this quote from St. John of the Cross: “All goods were given to me when I no longer sought them through self-love.” It’s been quite a struggle overcoming the “employment=success=happiness” mindset and I often backslide, but I am strengthened by the way Frank Parater courageously channeled his gifts towards God and others. Thus, I’ve discovered over the past six months that happiness does not come in the form of a salary- it comes from prayer, reaching out to friends, helping family members, and asking the Holy Spirit to channel our gifts and talents according to His will. Besides, I feel much more in touch with my Franciscan roots now that I’m shopping in thrift and dollar stores rather than hitting the mall each week like I used to do several years ago.
When Frank left his Virginia childhood of scouting and camping trips behind to attend an unfamiliar overseas seminary, he was understandably anxious. Similarly, we are all a bit frightened to see our youthful ambitions slip away as our country moves into uncharted territory. However, the lives of past saints like Frank Parater illustrate that God always gives His children the grace to courageously shine Christ’s light in the most dark and difficult circumstances. In spite of ourselves, our prayers have been answered.