A Meditation on Death

Frank Parater (1897-1920), Diocese of Richmond

Buried in the College Mausoleum, Campo Verano

I have nothing to leave or give but my life, and this I have consecrated to the Sacred Heart to be used as He wills. I have offered my all for conversions to God of non-Catholics in Virginia. This is what I live for and, in case of death, what I die for. Death is not unpleasant to me, but the most beautiful event of my life. Death is the messenger of God come to tell us that our novitiate is ended and to welcome us to the real life. Melancholic or morbid sentimentality is not the cause of my writing this, for I love life here, the College, the men. and Rome itself. But I have desired to die and be buried with the saints. I dare not ask God to take me lest I should be ungrateful or be trying to shirk the higher responsibilities of life; but I shall never have less to answer for–perhaps never be better ready to meet my Maker, my God, my All.

Since I was a child I have desired to die for the love of God and for my fellow man. Whether or not I shall receive that favor I know not, but if I live, it is for the same purpose; every action of my life here is offered to God for the spread and success of the Catholic Church in Virginia. I have always desired to be only a little child, that I may enter the kingdom of God. In the general resurrection I wish to always be a boy and to be permitted to accompany Saints John Berchmans, Aloysius and Stanislaus as their servant and friend.

Do we serve God and man less worthily by our prayers in heaven than by our actions on earth? Surely it is not selfish to desire to be with Him Who has loved us so well. 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. If it is God's holy will, I will join him on Good Friday, 1920, and never leave him more–but not my will, Father, but thine be done! Rome, Dec. 5th, 1919 (From The American College in Rome, pp. 469-470.)