A Few Good Catechetical Books
Looking for some good, solid, basic, inviting, user-friendly books on the faith? My friend Msgr. Peter Vaghi, a fine writer, indefatigable priest and pastor of Little Flower Church in Bethesda, Md., is hard at work on a fine new series of books on our faith that would prove inordinately useful in any Catholic home, dorm, rectory, chancery, or school. I first met Msgr. Vaghi a few years ago on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, when we were seated next to one another on the rather crowded plane. A former attorney, he’s a delightful conversationalist: energetic, intelligent, witty, articulate, forceful. As soon as we started talking, both of us realized that while we probably wouldn't always agree on every single thing, we always agree on the basics. (Also, both of us suffer from terminal garrulousness. Thus, the trip from Lourdes to Baltimore passed very quickly!)
Besides the fact that (full disclosure) we’re now friends, I’m not sure why I like his books so much. But I can venture a guess: they are at once firmly grounded in Scripture and tradition, well written, clear, orthodox, to the point--and, best of all, wonderfully concise.
This summer he is finishing The Commandments We Keep: A Catholic Guide to Living a Moral Life, the third book in the series, which should be out next spring. The first book, which has sold extremely well is The Faith We Profess: A Catholic Guide to the Apostles' Creed. It takes the reader step-by-step through the Creed, a good idea since most of us—even me--need to be refreshed from time to time on what “one in being” means, for example. The second book, which was published this past spring, is The Sacraments We Celebrate: A Catholic Guide to the Seven Mysteries of Faith. It shows how each of the sacraments is a transforming encounter with Christ, in his dying and rising. It reflects the church teaching on sacramental theology as well as Msgr. Vaghi’s 25 years of pastoral work. His zest for Catholicism and for Christ are evident in his writing; the books are "catechetical" in the best sense.
His new book, he tells me, will analyze first, “The Jewish Understanding of the Commandment”; second, “The Effect of the Christ Event on the Commandment”; and third, “Pastoral and Practical Implications of the Commandment.” He hopes later on to have a fourth book on prayer. Overall, the series will focus on faith, sacraments, moral life and prayer, thus mirroring the four-fold foundation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church--the four pillars of our faith.
Anyway, now you can’t say (a) you have nothing to read or (b) you have nothing to use in your parish.
And if that's still not enough reading for you, check out my ten-year list of suggested readings for Catholic book clubs here.