This Advent, Ignatian writers from across the Jesuit Conference are sharing 25 days of reflections on Ignatian heroes. You can receive these reflections directly in your inbox by signing up here.
Day 4: Peter Faber
By Jamie Kralovec
It is quite fitting that the person St. Ignatius thought was the best giver of the Spiritual Exercises was pretty humble and quiet. The Exercises can have this kind of impact on people, transforming previously loud doers of showy things into quiet contemplatives who act in generous and life-giving ways. St. Peter Faber, who learned the Exercises from St. Ignatius, became a trusted expert in his own time. Faber is an enduring gift of the Ignatian tradition and beloved by so many, including Pope Francis who considers him to be one of his favorite Jesuits. As a trained giver of the Exercises and an Ignatian-animated teacher, I am reminded in the example of Peter Faber that faithful teachers and spiritual directors should always tend to their own interior lives. We cannot pass along to others what we have not cultivated in ourselves.
I believe that Faber’s emotional attunement and depth of interiority is what Ignatius most noted about his beloved first companion. Pope Francis comments on Faber’s “careful interior discernment” and his capacity for gentle friendship and dialogue, gifts that led Faber to become a reconciling presence among religious divisions between Catholics and Protestants. Faber’s spirit of discerning reconciliation, captured in his autobiography the Memoriale, can inspire us today as we seek to heal the divisions within our church and our world. Faber models the kind of active listening and quiet discernment that is so desperately needed.
In this season of Advent, we await with joyful anticipation the breaking through of God’s kingdom on earth in the humble form of a child. This quiet incarnation reminds me of Faber’s slowness to speak and readiness to listen. How might we emulate these virtues in this season? How are you being invited to model the gentle compassion of Christ to those around you? And taking cues from St. Peter Faber, how are you quieting down long enough to attend to the stirrings of your heart?
Reflection: Is God inviting you to reach out for spiritual accompaniment for the journey ahead? Is Advent an opportunity to connect with a spiritual director or other trusted guide about your life of prayer? Is this the time that you finally say “yes” to a silent retreat?
Jamie Kralovec serves on the faculty of the Urban & Regional Planning program and is associate director for mission integration at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. He previously served as program director for Georgetown’s Urban & Regional Planning program and on the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2), an inter-agency initiative created by President Obama in 2012. He holds a Master of Urban Planning from New York University, a Master of Arts from Fordham University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame, and is completing a Doctor of Ministry from Fordham University.