Pope Francis and the Vatican have announced that Peter Faber, SJ, has been canonized. In celebration, Loyola Press is releasing The Quiet Companion, the authoritative biography about Peter Faber and his role in founding and shaping the Society of Jesus. Enjoy this excerpt.
As Faber was now [in 1534] preparing for his ordination, Ignatius allowed him to do the Spiritual Exercises. Although that February and March were the coldest in living memory he withdrew from the Ste-Barbe to live like a Carthusian in a little room off the rue St-Jacques, where he did without a fire and took no food or drink except a few sips of wine in the mornings when he returned from Mass. At the end of the first week Ignatius visited him “and found that he had eaten nothing for six days, that he slept in his shirt on the timber left him to make a fire, and that he made the meditations in the snow out in a little courtyard.” Telling Peter that he was sure he had not sinned but done something meritorious in undertaking these penances—the retreatant must have had some scruple and asked for direction on this point—Ignatius said that he would go away and pray and return in an hour’s time to give a decision. When he returned he said that Faber should fast one day more, which was the time he himself had fasted when he first did the Exercises; after that he should eat and have a fire. To reinforce his decision Ignatius came laden with wood and food; he lit a fire and cooked a meal for Peter.
Hardly any retreatant since Ignatius himself made these Exercises with the single-mindedness and fervour of Faber. In later years Ignatius used to say that none of the first generation of Jesuits could give the Exercises as well as Faber. He certainly emerged from his thirty days retreat imbued with the conviction that in all things a man should try to discover the will of God, and having discerned it immediately do it.