HomeJesuit SaintsPeter Faber and the Heart Space

Peter Faber and the Heart Space

Faber Friday - text over image of Peter Faber as seen on Peter Faber: A Saint for Turbulent Times cover - book by Jon M. Sweeney

Ignatius Loyola and Peter Faber were students together at the University of Paris, roommates in fact. Peter tutored Ignatius in Aristotle, and Ignatius tutored Peter in spirituality. Faber already had a rich and deep spirituality. Ignatius had already composed his Spiritual Exercises in the cave at Manresa. One can only imagine the late night talks the two would have had! Peter would be the first of Ignatius’s companions to be ordained—even before Ignatius—and shortly before his ordination, Ignatius led him through the Spiritual Exercises. Peter was also the first to jump on board with Ignatius as they sought to form the Society of Jesus, and on August 15, 1534, Ignatius and his six companions met in a crypt and pronounced vows while Peter celebrated Mass. (Tylenda, Jesuit Saints and Martyrs)

In his book, Peter Faber: A Saint for Turbulent Times, Jon Sweeney offers a new and intimate look at the young saint’s life. I was particularly touched by Faber’s journal entry about a deep longing he experienced while celebrating Mass one day: “Would that my whole inner being, especially my heart, were so yielding to Christ coming in as to open up and leave to him the place in my heart’s center.”

As I read this, I was transported back to second grade. My classmates and I were perched on the edges of the cold, wooden pews of the chapel. The granite, Station-lined walls exuded a cool dampness that made me shiver. Sr. Norah, our guitar-strumming principal, was talking to us First Communicants about making a space for Jesus in our hearts: “Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart.” How strange and interesting it seemed to think my heart had a door. And Jesus wanted to enter it? My imagination locked onto that image.

I consider what this would look like in my life today:

What would the door look like?

What would the knock sound like?

How long would it take me to answer the door?

What would it be like to see Jesus standing there?

How would I greet him? And he me?

What emotions would arise in me?

What would it be like to have Jesus enter into my heart?

Would he find it a welcoming space, or would there be too much clutter for him to enter and move around freely?

Faber took this imagery to the next level as he considered not just answering that door but allowing Jesus to dwell permanently in this heart space. I wonder about implementing this in my own life today:

What would it be like to have Jesus reside in my heart all the time?

What would it be like to have him there if I were in sadness and sorrow? And in joy?

How would my awareness of Jesus’ residency in my heart affect my daily interactions? As I drive? Work? Run errands? Walk through town? Spend time with my family? Friends? Do chores? Go to church?

Truly, it’s a truth-telling consideration. I think I’ve got some work to do!

Opening the Door to Jesus

by Rebecca Ruiz

Jesus, I don’t know how this is supposed to go,
how I am to be,
what I am to do.
I don’t know if I’m doing it right at all, Lord,
but I do know that my desire to welcome you pleases you.

So come, and dwell with me
in the deepest recesses of my being—
my heart space.
Will you rejoice with me in my joys?
Will you comfort me in my sorrows?
Will you anchor me in times of change?

Would you teach me how you are?
To see as you see
To hear as you hear
To feel as you feel
To react as you react
To love as you love
To be just as you are?

Rebecca Ruiz
Rebecca Ruizhttps://amdg1.wordpress.com/
Rebecca Ruiz holds a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and an M.A. from Tufts University. She has been trained as an Ignatian spiritual director through Fairfield University. Rebecca is on staff at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and previously served for a decade and a half at the Diocese of Arlington in refugee resettlement. She strives, as St. Ignatius taught, to see God in all things and do “all things for the greater glory of God.”


  1. Space is a word much used, and abused on occasion, just now.
    Yet space has a wide variety of meanings.
    I wrote a poem once about ‘Window Space’ – everything I could see
    from my bedroom window.
    Heart space, as you call it, has a similar value,
    in that its scope, beauty and changes are daily reflected
    in the way we live our lives, and reach out to God to enter in our beings.
    ‘Heart space’ – wonderful, my saying of the week – and on.
    Thank you very much for this lovely piece of writing, Rebecca.

  2. Not too long ago I was introduced to the idea that I’d got this whole “God” thing upside down and backwards. That instead of God being out there or up there, God is already here. Waiting for me to notice. Instead of opening my heart so God could enter, I had only to do what I could every day to sink into God’s presence. Instead of trying to do things to bring my
    Mind/heart/ego into conformity with some external idea of “the will of God,” all I needed to do was allow myself to know where I’ve always been. Like the Man said, “LET” this mind . . .

    • Hi Dawn,
      Yes, God is with us all the time – we simply need to give God permission -and notice how God is already and has always been working in our lives.

  3. Rebecca – As always, you are right on target. How We are coming to Virginia for a long weekend in October and will try to contact you. I tru;y miss our meetings – they were small, brief, intense and VERY productive, Thank you and God Bless. Annette Lynch


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