We share this excerpt in honor of St. Peter Faber’s birthday, April 13.
“Desire what is essential and original,” Faber writes in Memoriale. This sentence gets at the psychological brilliance of the Exercises and how they specifically transformed Peter’s life.
Faber discovers that desires are good, not bad, and that finding what’s essential in the heart comes only when we find God there. As Pope Francis said in his homily about him on January 3, 2014, “Faber could discern God’s voice in his desires.” Finding God’s will is possible when we accept that God has a unique plan—an identity, purpose, and destiny—that’s ours alone.
Every person who attempts to follow Christ with faithfulness feels desolation, loneliness, anger, and other upsetting emotions throughout the average day. To deny these and put on a happy face is to miss the purpose of emotions entirely.
When there is a knot in your stomach from nervousness, God is close by. We see this beautifully in this passage that Faber writes in a letter to a king: “Blessed be the upsetter of hearts.” Precisely when you cannot see the right way to go, God is present. Stop and look carefully. And in your joy as well as your sadness, God is there. God is in our turmoil and our desires. These are not the simple, pious messages of a man seeking private peace. A truly spiritual life doesn’t aim at that. Rather, it aims at holiness before God and with one’s neighbors.
—Excerpted from Peter Faber: A Saint for Turbulent Times by Jon M. Sweeney