"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)


St. Peter Faber: Patron Saint of Creativity and Reconciliation (August 2)

In a recent interview of Pope Francis by Austin Ivereigh, he asked the Pope how he is now since the start of the pandemic, he said,
"I’m praying more... And I think of people... Thinking of people anoints me, it does me good... My major concern is how to accompany and be closer to the people of God. Hence the live-streaming of the 7:00 AM Mass... the 27 March 2020 event in St. Peter’s Square. Hence, too, the step-up in activities of the office of papal charities, attending to the sick and hungry. I’m living this as a time of great uncertainty. It’s a time for inventing, for creativity.”
I believe it is the spirit of St. Peter Faber that inspires Francis' sense of creativity. He seemed to have read Faber's mind that if canonizing him could not be avoided, make the ceremony low-key with a simple Mass. On 17 December 2013, Pope Francis signed the bull of his canonization bereft of the usual big celebration in St. Peter's Square. Faber and Ignatius met in Paris, where Faber had come to study after his humble life as a shepherd on the mountains of Savoy. In Ignatius' personal attestation, Faber was the best giver of the Spiritual Exercises because of his gentle spirit that attracted and won princes, prelates, and priests towards spiritual renewal. He is recognized as patron saint of spiritual directors. However, just as he was so gentle with others, he was very hard on himself. He was ordained ahead of the other companions. When they professed their vows as the first members of the newborn Society of Jesus together with St. Ignatius, he presided over the mass in August 1534.

Chris Lowney, author of Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads (Loyola Press) has this to say about Peter Faber, I quote,
"His ministry was vital but not headline-grabbing. He was an extraordinarily capable spiritual director who reinvigorated clergy and bishops who had grown decadent, and patiently drew wavering Catholics back to the fold at a time when the Protestant Reformation was sweeping Europe. In an interview with La Civiltà Cattolica, Francis praised Faber's style, his 'dialogue with all... even with his opponents... his simple piety... his careful interior discernment... capable of being so gentle and loving'. Faber's patient but ever-persistent outreach, his 'frontier spirit' so to speak, embodies the culture change Francis is trying to engender in our church at large."
St. Peter Faber's Style of Evangelization
Austin Ivereigh, asked the Pope about the connection between the current crisis and conversion. "Every crisis contains both danger and opportunity—the opportunity to move out from the danger," the Pope says. "Today I believe we have to slow down our rate of production and consumption (LS 191) and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world. We need to reconnect with our real surroundings. This is the opportunity for conversion." In fact, the Pope is calling all people to ponder our human vocation in much more fundamental ways. He sets the example himself, by re-examining his responsibilities as Pope, and asks what will follow in the aftermath. He realized that the aftermath has begun to take its heavy, tragic and painful toll. The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development has been working on this, and meeting with the Pope. After all, that's what great leaders do, whether popes, state leaders, entrepreneurs and parents in every household, they lead the way beyond ideologies and differences and rally the people and family members towards a higher meaning; to hope even against hope. He opines,
"The Church is so wounded, and today it is also so wounded by tensions within it. Meekness, it takes meekness! And it takes a lot of courage to be meek! But you have to go forward with meekness. This is not the time to convince, to have discussions. If someone has a sincere doubt, yes, one can dialogue, clarify. But don't respond to the attacks." 
"What to do? It takes patience, it takes hupomeno, that is, carrying the weight of the events and circumstances of life. You have to carry the burden of life and its tensions on your shoulders. We know that we must proceed with parrhesia and courage. They're important. However, there are times when you can't go too far and then you have to be patient and sweet. This is what Peter Faber did, the man of dialogue, of listening, of closeness, of the journey."
"Today is a time more for Faber than for Peter Canisius, who was the man of the dispute. In times of criticism and tension we must do as Faber did, working with the help of the angels: he begged his angel to speak to the angels of others so that they might do with them what we cannot do. And then you really need proximity, a meek proximity. We must first of all be close to the Lord with prayer, with time spent in front of the tabernacle. And then the closeness to the people of God in daily life with works of charity to heal the wounds."
Pope Francis counsels that we need a "meek proximity" to the people of God as exemplified by Peter Faber. Fr. JM Manzano, SJ

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