Sunday, August 2, 2015

Alphonsus Liguori and Peter Faber, S.J.

Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists, was at first a lawyer, but a legal failure sent him examining whether he should become a priest. He founded a missionary order that was known for its kindness and concern for others and Liguori, as a confessor, wrote about moral theology.

As I never experienced a Redemptorist pastor, I have limited contact with their particular charism. Other than knowing that they do good work on behalf of the church, I find myself lacking in a real connection to Liguori.

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Peter Faber, S.J., holds incredible fascination in my consciousness. He was the first priest of the group that would become the Society of Jesus and he is known for his gentleness and kindness. He is the patron saint of the Spiritual Exercises and of retreat directors. He was chosen to attend the Council of Trent as a theologian, and on his way to the council he decided to visit Ignatius of Loyola. The road travel was wearying and he was already exhausted from his tireless work. On August 1, 1544, while visiting Ignatius, Faber fell ill and died at the age of 38.

He was beatified in 1872 by Pope Pius IX and canonized by Pope Francis on December 14, 2014. This would have been the first year Faber would have been on the calendar as a saint, but because his feast day falls on a Sunday, the Lord's Day, the Sunday schedule trumps his feast. Though he died on August 1st, Liguori already occupied that day, so we celebrate it on August 2nd.

In June, I prayed a whole lot to Peter during my surgery and recovery. I knew he would minister to me well as a priest and that his style would be gentle. He was good to me and was a very worthy chaplain. Faber is one of my top Jesuit heroes.