Thought for the Day – 2 August – The Memorial of St Peter Faber (1506-1546)
The Mass for the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, the titular feast day for the Society of Jesus, was offered on 3 January 2014, by Pope Francis in the Gesu Church in Rome. Today the Church reminds us “to let the centre of … [our] heart be occupied by Christ.” Gathering for prayer was an opportunity for the Holy Father to gather with his religious community in Rome to give God thanks for the many blessings received, and to give thanks for the new Jesuit saint Peter Faber (Pierre Favre).
In his homily Francis said: (excerpt)
“The heart of Christ is the heart of a God who, out of love, “emptied” himself. Every one of us Jesuits who follow Jesus should be willing to empty himself. We are called to this abasement: to be of the “emptied.” To be men that do not live centred on themselves because the centre of the Society is Christ and his Church. And God is the Deus semper maior, the God who always surprises us. And if the God of surprises is not at the centre, the Society becomes disoriented. Because of this, to be a Jesuit means to be a person of incomplete thought, of open thought: because one always thinks looking at the horizon which is the ever greater glory of God, who ceaselessly surprises us. And this is the restlessness of our void, this holy and beautiful restlessness!
This is the restlessness that Peter Faber had, man of great desires, another Daniel. Faber was a “modest, sensible man of profound interior life and gifted with the gift of close relations of friendship with persons of all sorts” (Benedict XVI, Address to Jesuits, April 22, 2006). However, he was also a restless, uncertain and never satisfied spirit. Under the guidance of Saint Ignatius he learned to unite his restless but also gentle — I would say exquisite –, sensibility with the capacity to take decisions. He was a man of great desires; he took charge of his desires, he acknowledged them. In fact for Faber, it was precisely when difficult things were proposed that his true spirit was manifested which moved him to action (cf. Memoriale, 301). Authentic faith always implies a profound desire to change the world. Here is the question we should ask ourselves: do we also have great visions and dash? Are we also daring? Does our dream fly high? Does zeal devour us (cf. Psalm 69:10)? Or are we mediocre and content with our laboratory apostolic programs? Let us remember always: the strength of the Church does not lie in herself and in her organisational capacity but is hidden in the profound waters of God. And these waters agitate our desires and desires enlarge the heart. It is what Saint Augustine says: pray to desire and desire to enlarge the heart. In fact it was in his desires that Faber could discern God’s voice. Without desires one goes nowhere and it is because of this that we must offer our desires to the Lord.
Faber had the real and profound desire to “be dilated in God”: he was completely centred on God and because of this, he could go, in the spirit of obedience, often also on foot, everywhere in Europe to speak to all with gentleness and to proclaim the Gospel. As Saint Peter Favre wrote, “We never seek in this life a name that is not connected with that of Jesus” (Memoriale, 205). And we pray to Our Lady to be messengers with her Son.”…Pope Francis, 3 January 2014