All Is Prayer; Prayer is All
Peter was engaged in a round ofactivities, but we know few details about his interior life. His extrememodesty would not permit entries in the Memoriale beyond a brief mentionof them. Yet they reveal a life of deep prayer. His life with God is not separatedfrom life with others in “small deeds:” “The more one is united with [God], themore abundant blessing will God give to lowly works which come from him and aredone according to his will. Do not admire, therefore, the quality or size of awork which is visible, but rather the quality and size of the power from whichit proceeds. Prefer to be full of grace and to perform small deeds greatly,rather than to fail to grow spiritually and to perform great deeds weakly. Thesmallest deeds done with a great blessing of grace last longer and bear morefruit than the greatest deeds performed with only a little grace.” ( O’Leary,49-50; 423)
Peter takes delight in daily praisingand thanking God for favors received from pious thoughts and from his ministry.He records intense moments in prayer, a fact emerging from his keen awarenessof the Trinity present and at work in his life. Daily, he asks for God’sSpirit. In fact, he paraphrases John 14:26: ‘Father, give me your Spiritthrough Jesus your Son.’ There are times when he receives the gift of tears.
Brooding about a Bleak Situation
Peter’s natural tendency to moodswings never left him. In fact, they intensified because of thehopeless situation in Germany. Worse, he brooded over his brooding, and depression immobilized him.Helpless to do anything at these times, prayer was his only refuge where hebegged for guidance, for light to see what God wanted of him. His entries inthe Memoriale read like prayer because they were written duringprayer. He brings all to prayer and brings prayer to all. To the very end, heremained faithful.
On August 1, 1546, exhausted and wornout, Peter died in Rome en route to the Council of Trent where he was to serveas a theological adviser with three of his companions, Claude Le Jay, DiegoLaynez, and Alfonso Salmerón. He was forty years of age.
In 1607, the Bishop of Geneva,Francis de Sales in The Introduction to the Devout Life praises thesaintly Pierre Favre. Today he is honored in Villaret as a local saint, and asmall chapel stands on the Favre homestead, which I visited some years ago. Thewoman of the household, Madame Favre knew a pilgrim when she saw one. Sheoffered me a smooth, savory liqueur, had me sign my name in the visitors’ book,and handed me the keys to the chapel established on the homestead in his honor.It was a few steps from the humble cottage. An unforgettable experience!
On April 22, 2006, Pope Benedict XVIaddressed the Society of Jesus and their colleagues on the occasion of theIgnatian Year. He too spoke fondly of Peter as “a modest man, sensible, ofprofound interior life and given to strong rapport of friendship with all kindsof people, attracting in his time many young people to the Company . . .” (“A PreciousLegacy Not to be Lost”)
”The Elder Brother of Us All”
The life of Peter Faber puts a human face onone approach to God, the Ignatian. Despite the span of different time and differentcircumstance, Peter remains close to our human condition. We can feel with him coping with adversity. Heis not afraid to admit his doubts and struggles, his vulnerability anddepression. We admire his quiet gift of affecting one person at a time. Laynezspoke well when he described Peter as “the eldest brother of us all.” (BrianO’Leary, S.J., “Pierre Favre ‘The Eldest Brother of Us All’”)